Previews + Extras
Did you know a buffalo can clear a six-foot fence? Or hit running speeds of 35 miles per hour? These animals may look strange and slow, but they’re "a souped-up hotrod of an animal hiding in a minivan shell." They were also driven nearly to extinction – but that’s only the beginning.
After the Civil War, Americans set out with renewed energy to unite the East and West. They built railroads to span the continent, opening up vast areas for homesteaders and connecting distant metropolitan markets to domestic crops and cattle. The effect on the environment, the bison, and the Plains Indians was catastrophic.
The U.S. government made treaties with Indigenous people when it was convenient, and broke these treaties when it was inconvenient. This recurring pattern made it increasingly difficult for Native people to live – and survive – as they once had.
The scale of destruction of wild animals in the American West during the 19th century is the largest in known human history. When hide hunters ran out of buffalo, they turned to other animals to feed the market economy, from antelopes and elk to wolves and grizzly bears. Even scavenging animals could not escape the destruction.
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