Episode 202: The Silence of The Bison

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Bison Skull Pile

In the late 1800s the United States would experience an extinction of unparalleled levels. No not the dinosaurs but the Bison. This majestic creature, once numbering in the tens of thousands, would dwindle to mere hundreds at the end of the 19th century. How did this happen, and what was done to counteract this? In this episode, your hosts Louis Herman, David Backer and Max Stern will explore these questions and more covering the the American Plains, Native Americans, and of course the Bison, in this episode of Hear UR: Nature Reconstructed.   

Show notes


works cited

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. W.W. Norton, 1997.

Hornaday, William T. “Letter Dated December 21, 1886, to Professor Spencer F. Baird, Secretary of the Smithsonian, about Collecting Bison Specimens for an Exhibit.” Received by Professor Spencer F. Baird, Smithsonian Museum, 21 Dec. 1886, Washington, District of Columbia .

Isenberg, Andrew C. The Destruction of the Bison: an Environmental History, 1750-1920. Access and Diversity, Crane Library, University of British Columbia, 2015.

Leiter, Susan. “The Wildlife Conservation Society Scrapbooks of William T. Hornaday.” Wildlife Conservation Society Library & Archives, Wildlife Conservation Society, hornadayscrapbooks.com/about_hornaday.

Phippen, J. Weston. “’Kill Every Buffalo You Can! Every Buffalo Dead Is an Indian Gone’.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 13 May 2016, www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2016/05/the-buffalo-killers/482349/.

Powell, Miles A. Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation. Harvard University Press, 2016.

“William Temple Hornaday: Saving the American Bison.” Smithsonian Institution Archives, 14 Sept. 2012, siarchives.si.edu/history/featured-topics/stories/william-temple-hornaday-saving-american-bison.


Thank You to Dr. Tim McCleary, anthropology professor at Little Big Horn College, for taking the time to give an interview.

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