1870 - Buffalo disappearing

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.


         Fifteen million 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.

         Congress was 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 consummated.