Buffalo Skinner's Cart
Over sixty million buffalo once roamed the Great Plains, hunted only by natural prey and the Native Americans who depended on the buffalo for their livelihoods. When General Philip Sheridan took command of the U.S. troops in the West in 1867, he swore to bring peace to the plains by killing off the buffalo.
Herds were so large that trains often had to stop and wait hours for the buffalo to pass and railroads began to hire commercial hunters to clear the herds. Hundreds of hunters arrived easily by train and began indiscriminately killing buffalo for their hides. Using a “still hunt,” the leader of the herd was targeted. Confused, the remainder of the herd would eventually become still and easily slaughtered.
After one of these expeditions, the plains for miles around were covered with mutilated buffalo carcasses. The skins were stretched, baled and shipped like cordwood. By the end of 1875, the great southern herd was practically extinct.
The thinning of the buffalo herds cleared the prairies for the grazing of cattle and the farming of crops, still the basis of agriculture in Oklahoma today.
Images are copyright of The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. and the artist. Please contact Matt Duehning at 405-524-0126 or Matt.Duehning@oksenate.gov for further copyright information.