The buffalo is the largest North American
animal. It weighs as much as 2,000 pounds. It lives with other buffalo in
groups or herds. Two hundred years ago, there were 60 million buffalo. They
lived all over the center of North America. There were thousands of herds. One
herd was twenty miles long and twenty miles wide. The buffalo followed the
grass and the Indians followed the buffalo.
The Indians used the buffalo for many
things. They used it for meat. Sometimes they ate fresh meat. Sometimes they
dried the meat in the sun. Then they ate it later. The Indians also used the
skin, or hide, of the buffalo. From the hide they made tents, clothes, shoes,
hats, and rope. They wasted nothing. But times changed.
People from other lands came to
America. These immigrants crossed the country in wagon trains. They killed the
buffalo for food and hides. More and more people came. And everyone wanted
leather. Hunters with guns killed the buffalo only for their hides. They wasted
everything else. These hunters were very good at their job. By 1900, there were
fewer than thirty buffalo alive.
Today, there are about 30,000 buffalo
in America. But herds are very small. You can see them in states like Wyoming.
Sometimes you can buy buffalo meat at a restaurant. But you will never see a
herd of buffalo as big as a city.