Today, the bison buffalo is a symbol of North American west. However, many hundred years ago, bisons were prevalent right from Canada until the Great Plains in the US. It is said that when the bisons ran in the prairie, the sound of their hooves sounded like rolling thunder. This is the reason why the American bison is also referred to as the thunder of the plains. However, when the white settlers settled in the prairies, the number of bisons reduced, and there was a stage when the magnificent beasts were close to extinction.
The American bison and the Eurasian bison have the same ancestor. This ancestor crossed the Bering Straits during pre-historic times. According available evidence, the Eurasian bison evolved in the Wood Bison and Plains Bison which both American bisons. When the bison was at the peak of its existence, it is estimated that nearly 60 million nomadic bisons lived from Mexico until Canada. These bisons proved meat to the Native American tribes living in the plains. Many Native American tribes, like the Sioux, Cheyenne and Lakota, timed their migration based on the season migration of the bison herds. (See Reference 1)
The Native Americans used to hunt bisons with bow and arrows, and machetes. In order to kill the bison, the Native Americans had to use their brains rather than brawn. Often the hunters used to camouflage themselves as wolves by wearing wolf skins and the come near the herd without causing a stampede. And, then they would trick the bisons into stampeding off a cliff. However, it is important to note that the Native Americans used to kill only how many bisons they needed for the tribe, and they would use every part of the bison. The hide would be used to make moccasins, saddles and shields; the coat would be used to make pillows and ropes; the tongue would serve as combs; the gall was used to make yellow paint; and the stomach lining of a bison would be used as a cooking vessel. There are many folklores in Native American history highlight the importance of the bison in the lives of the Native Americans living in the plains. (See Reference 1)
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