|The whol face of the country was covered with herds of Buffaloe....|
|Capt. Meriwether Lewis
April 25, 1805
They were woolly. They were mammoth. But they werent the elephantine anachronisms Jefferson expected. Still, they were a wonder. On the Great Plains Lewis tells of immense herds...in every direction, and says the bison were so gentle that we pass near them....without appearing to excite any alarm.
Their plenty was a boon to the Plains Indians. To them, the bison was food, shelter, tools, ornaments, clothinga way of life. An estimated 60 million bison roamed the pre-Lewis and Clark plains. By 1900 white sportsmen had reduced their number to fewer than 300 in the States. Today there are some 250,000 bison on the plains.Bison on a Montana ranch
Photograph by Sam Abell
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