Mass bison kill in 1800s has lasting legacy on Indigenous people

Extirpation of bison from large parts of their former range affected more than the ecology

The mass killing of millions of bison in North America 150 years ago continues to affect the Indigenous communities that once depended on the ungulates. Bison (Bison bison) once numbered in the millions in the United States, but uncontrolled mass killing by settlers reduced their numbers down to the hundreds by the end of the 19th century. Many Indigenous people who depended on the meat, hides and other resources that bison provided suffered huge economic losses due their disappearance. Researchers recently examined the immediate and long-term effects of bison loss on Indigenous people. They found the loss had profound effects, even cutting inches off the height of people who were once among the tallest Indigenous Americans before the bison were largely exterminated. Child mortality also increased with bison loss, the study found.

Read more at the Emory News Center.

Header Image: Bison once numbered in the millions in North America. Credit: Doug Davey