A small mountain of buffalo skulls collected by white hunters was a harbinger of difficult times for plains Indians who had depended on the bison for their sustenance for centuries.
buffalo had roamed the Great Plains when the white man arrived
fifty years earlier. From 1871 to 1873, hide hunters
concentrated their fire on the herds in western Kansas -
three million hides were harvested annually.
asked to stop the "indiscriminate slaughter and extermination of
the buffalo, but "too many congressmen favored the business
interests that profited from the buffalo slaughter," and Congress
turned a blind eye to the mayhem on the plains.
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By 1878 the
southern herd was eliminated, and the last of the herds on the
northern plains disappeared by 1883. "The greatest slaughter
of wild animals by human hands ever recorded in history" had been