Was a more humane Native American policy possible for the US?

Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#31
@sculptingman

Thanks for that fascinating post about Native Americans.

I'm aware that the were not the sensitive ecologists of "Dances With Wolves". it is my understanding that it was not uncommon for Plain Indians to kill a buffalo for its tongue, considered a delicacy.

Given the population of Indians and the buffalo population I find it hard to believe they were mainly responsible for the near extinction of the buffalo. Perhaps I am repeating the popular view. IE that the neat extinction of the buffalo was caused by white men. This included train loads of whites going on buffalo shooting from trains, as well as professional buffalo hunters, killing thousands of bison ,each. Plus, in later years I understand . some whites made a living collecting buffalo bones which littered the prairie.

It has been estimated that there were between 50-60 million bison in the early 1800's.

I understand that the relationship between Indians and buffalo was a complex one, and I can kind of see how they could have have eventually driven the animal to extinction..

Could you perhaps let me have a link or two supporting your claims?
 
Oct 2009
3,447
San Diego
#32
@sculptingman


I understand that the relationship between Indians and buffalo was a complex one, and I can kind of see how they could have have eventually driven the animal to extinction..

Could you perhaps let me have a link or two supporting your claims?
This understanding came from the research I did in making about ten years worth of sculptures of native americans- back in the time before the internet... It was gleaned from reading the accounts of very early fur trappers- who noted the size of the herds- versus the accounts of later reporters in the 1860s whose accounts were of much smaller herds.
Couple this with the fact that prior or the horse, native tribes did not live on the plains- aside from a few sedentary tribes like the Mandan who lived on the major rivers.
We have evidence of Tribal peoples along the river valleys staging mass hunts when herds came near their villages- such as the site called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump National Monument. That illustrates that pre-horse natives had very little access to the buffalo except around the periphery where such mass killings have been found.

A good illustration is found in the three branches of Sioux, the Nakota, Dakota and Lakota Who, before the horse, were a small tribe living north of lake superior.
They spread south into Minnesota and Wisconsin- eradicating the tribes that formerly lived in those areas- but once they got the horse, They burst out across the northern plains-taking the Black Hills, and the territory today encompassing the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma And Nebraska. They did not Follow the buffalo- because their ponies needed grass the buffalo would have eaten ahead of them- but ranged widely looking for herds to hunt.
Couple this with the history of megafauna in North American that all started going extinct sometime AFTER human beings first arrived.


The infamous stories of Whites shooting buffalo from trains are overblown myths- While it DID happen- there were no trains across the prairie until the 1860s and prior to the 1890's there were only a few rail lines crossing the vast expanse. The chances that any given train would encounter a buffalo herd ON the right of way were actually pretty small. To suggest that this significantly eroded the numbers of buffalo would be like saying DEER would go extinct because of all the cars hitting them. There are a LOT more roads, today, then there were across the prairie back then.
The native peoples first began noticing that the buffalo were getting harder to find in the 1860s- Long before Whites were on the plains in any significant numbers.


In fact- Whites ultimately DID put the last nail in the coffin in that they DID step up commercial trade in buffalo hides and buffalo bones- and what that did was drive the increasing number of Settlers to kill buffalo whenever they came across any and then haul the bones and pelts in to the railheads where agents paid cash money for them.
This trade was helped by the US army deciding that eradicating the buffalo would be the easiest way to keep the natives ON the reservation- and dependent on government beef allocations.

The last areas to be significantly settled were the plains- and it was actually the Cattle barons and sheep ranchers and their fences that ultimately broke up the migratory patterns of the remaining buffalo and led to the final decline.

But the Natives easily cut the buffalo herds in half from the time they first got the horse until 1860. And between 1860 and 1880 the natives killed nearly as many as whites did. ( though whites DID collect the bones the native left behind to sell for glue, gelatin and soap manufacture. )

Just as the Anasazi ended up turning their lands into deserts thru cutting all the timber in a marginal ecosystem- Native peoples did as much damage to their environment as their technology allowed. That their actions had effects over generations, coupled with their lack of written histories, made it impossible for them to even realize the damage they were doing.

An example is that when Joao Cabrillo first discovered the Los Angeles river basin- he named it Tierra Del Los Fumar - the land of the smoke- this was because of the smog that hung over the basin from all the cooking fires of the thousands of native who live in the area- the same thermal inversion layer that makes smog hang over LA today affected the smoke of native campfires.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#33
Wow, terrific post. Thank you for taking the time.

Any chance of any photos of your work?

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Completely Off topic, but I feel the need to tell some one. Right now ,it is 1605 daylight savings time .The official temperature is 46 celsius. Pretty sure it's a record.,Under m pergola it's 50, but that's as high as the thermometer goes. I'm expecting a power cut at any time.