The Largest Destruction of Animals in Modern History | The American Buffalo | A Film by Ken Burns

Video

Joshua J. Mark
by PBS
published on 18 January 2024

Official website: https://to.pbs.org/buffalo | #AmericanBuffaloPBS

The scale of destruction of wild animals in the American West during the 19th century is the largest in known human history. When hide hunters ran out of buffalo, they turned to other animals to feed the market economy, from antelopes and elk to wolves and grizzly bears. Even scavenging animals could not escape the destruction.

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More about THE AMERICAN BUFFALO
For thousands of generations, buffalo (species bison bison) have evolved alongside Indigenous people who relied on them for food and shelter, and, in exchange for killing them, revered the animal. The stories of Native people anchor the series, including the Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne of the Southern Plains; the Lakota, Salish, Kootenai, Mandan-Hidatsa, and Blackfeet from the Northern Plains; and others.

Numbering an estimated 30 million in the early 1800s, the herds began declining for a variety of reasons, including the lucrative buffalo robe trade, the steady westward settlement of an expanding United States, diseases introduced by domestic cattle, and drought. But the arrival of the railroads in the early 1870s, and a new demand for buffalo hides to be used in the belts driving industrial machines back East, brought thousands of hide hunters to the Great Plains. In just over a decade the number of bison collapsed from 12-15 million to fewer than a thousand, representing one of the most dramatic examples of our ability to destroy the natural world. By 1900, the American buffalo teetered on the brink of disappearing forever, and Native people of the Plains entered one of the most traumatic moments of their existence.

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APA Style

PBS, . (2024, January 18). The Largest Destruction of Animals in Modern History | The American Buffalo | A Film by Ken Burns. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/3107/the-largest-destruction-of-animals-in-modern-histo/

Chicago Style

PBS, . "The Largest Destruction of Animals in Modern History | The American Buffalo | A Film by Ken Burns." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 18, 2024. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/3107/the-largest-destruction-of-animals-in-modern-histo/.

MLA Style

PBS, . "The Largest Destruction of Animals in Modern History | The American Buffalo | A Film by Ken Burns." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan 2024. Web. 24 Feb 2024.

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