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Buffalo Herds

How We Lived with the Buffalo

The Buffalo

Buffalo were our staff of life. They gave us raw material for containers, shelter, and tools. They were our food.

Buffalo Herds

Buffalo herds were made up of smaller bands of cows (females), newly born calves, yearlings, and two-year- olds. They were related to each other, like a family. One cow was the leader of the herd. She decided when it was time to graze somewhere else or when it was time to walk to the nearest water for a drink.
Buffalo Herds

Buffalo Bulls

The bulls (males) spent most of the year apart from the main herd. Near the end of summer, they joined the larger herd and mated with the females.

Height
I usually grow to be over two metres tall.

Weight
I often weigh over one tonne, the size of a
pick-up truck!

Speed
I have powerful legs and can run very fast.

Agility
I am very agile and can jump over one metre in the air from a standing start.
Buffalo Herds


Buffalo

Cape

The thick, wooly hair on my shoulders acts as a cape. During a blizzard I am protected from the freezing wind by this thick shoulder hair. It keeps me warm and provides insulation.
1

Horns

My short, sharp horns are good for fighting and keeping predators away.
2


Eyes

Although I do not see well close-up, I can see someone moving up to two kilometres away.
3

Hoofs

My sharp hoofs help me to paw through snow and find grass during winter.
4



How We Used the Buffalo


Buffalo

Scrotum

Our rattles were made from bulls' scrotums that had pebbles inside.
1

Rattle, mid 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum Collection of Glenbow Museum

Stomach and Bladder

The stomach and bladder were water-tight and made good storage containers.
2

Container made from buffalo bladder, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Hair

We stuffed our saddles with the hair. It was also made into rope.
3

Skull

The skull was an altar at our ceremonies.
4


Tongues

Tongues were dried and used at our summer ceremonies.
5

Sinew

Sinew attaches muscles to bone. We stripped this and used it as thread.
6


Back Fat

The meat from the hump was especially good to eat.
7



Hides

Hides were used for:

  • hard soles on our moccasins
  • bedding
  • winter robes to wear in the cold weather.
  • winter moccasins had the hair on the inside
  • bull's shoulder hide made the best shields
  • tipi covers
  • rawhide containers for our food and clothing
  • quivers for our arrows and bows
8
D.B. Robinson,  Crowfoot - Blood Chief (Sapo-Omok-Sokah), 1875-76, Collection of Glenbow Museum; Parfleche, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum Parfleche, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum

D.B. Robinson,
Crowfoot - Blood Chief (Sapo-Omok-Sokah),
1875-76,
Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


Tail

The tail was used to swat flies. Some of our men used the tails in the sweatlodge to sprinkle water on the hot rocks.
9

Buffalo tail, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum Collection of Glenbow Museum

Brain, Muzzle and Tongue

We ate the brain, muzzle, and the tongue. The brain was also used to tan hides.
10

Horns

Horns were used for:

  • cups
  • ladles
  • powder horns
  • headdresses
  • fire carriers
11

Internal Organs

We ate all of the organs. Raw kidney was a delicacy.
12

Bones

Bones were boiled to get their fat and marrow.
13


Hooves

We boiled the hooves to make glue. They were also used as rattles and tipi doorbells.
14

 


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