Humanistic

Bison skulls to be used for fertilizer, 1870

Bison skulls to be used for fertilizer, 1870

Published: 2016-06-06 | Original Article
Attribution By RHP

Bison were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.
Bison were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.
Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century and were reduced to a few hundred by the mid-1880s. They were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. Hides were prepared and shipped to the east and Europe (mainly Germany) for processing into leather. Homesteaders collected bones from carcasses left by hunters. Bison bones were used in refining sugar, and in making fertilizer and fine bone china. Bison bones brought from $2.50 to $15.00 a ton.

The US Army sanctioned and actively endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds. The federal government promoted bison hunting for various reasons, to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition from other bovines, and to weaken the North American Indian population. The US government even paid a bounty for each bison skull recovered. Military commanders were ordering their troops to kill bison — not for food, but to deny Native Americans their own source of food. One general believed that bison hunters “did more to defeat the Indian nations in a few years than soldiers did in 50 years.” By 1880, the slaughter was almost over. Where millions of bison once roamed, only a few thousand animals remained.

Fact: In 1884 there were around 325 wild bison left in the United States – including 25 in Yellowstone. Before the Europeans arrived in New World, there were more than 50 million bison in North America.
Attribution By RHP