American Bison

Inexcusable are the men before our time/I’d like to kick their ass for what they left behind

Bad Religion, Unacceptable

Two more photos by Clint Elliott from a recent trip to Montana. American bison once roamed the plains by the tens of millions before being hunted to the brink of extinction. Today they number less than one percent of their historic population.

“Besieged by hide hunters in the 1870s and 1880s,” writes Patricia Nelson Limerick in her book, The Legacy of Conquest, “the buffalo came close to disappearing. … Yellowstone holds the only continuously wild herd, augmented by animals raised domestically and then released.”

“From here on for several days he would see little but a thin scattering of ranches, established in the wake of the buffalo slaughter. There had been  some hide camps in the past, but those would be gone now. Instead of gathering buffalo hides, men with no better work to do were gathering buffalo bones to be shipped to Europe for the making of bone china.

Remembering the great shaggy herds he had seen as a boy, living among the Comanches who had captured him, he gave way to a fleeting melancholy for so much that had been lost.”

Elmer Kelton, Other Men’s Horses

A massive pile of bison skulls soon to be ground into bone meal fertilizer. Photograph circa 1870s.

The Clint Elliott Files:

Lower Yellowstone Falls Canoe Camping Along the Green River, Utah — Canoe Campin’ and Fishin’ in Minnesota Goddard Campground: The Lost Jewel of West Camino Cielo Sliding Down Mono Debris Dam Cliff Diving Montezuma Falls in Costa Rica

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4 Responses to American Bison

  1. Ugh. That mountain of skulls is a sobering memorial to what’s been destroyed. It makes my heart ache as I ponder the psyche of our species. z

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Yeah, it is depressing. It’s something that has been going on since the beginning of our species. Prehistoric humans hunted to extinction their fair share of animals.

  2. Love the pictures, esspecialy the last one. 🙂 Impressive!

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