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Unit 3


buffalo in South Dakota

Lesson 3
Preservation of the Buffalo
     In the 1800s, millions of buffalo were killed by Indians and non-Indians. Their hides were made into clothing or blankets. Their tongues were sold or traded as delicacies. By 1890, the buffalo was nearly extinct. Something had to be done.

Buffalo and Calf
Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

     The American Indians needed the buffalo. It gave them food, shelter, and clothing. Some Indians were the first to try to save the buffalo. They saw hunters shooting the animals from trains. These Indians chased the animals away from the railroads. They tried to herd them north. Their plan did not work.

Frederick Dupree
Frederick Dupree

  In 1883, a rancher saved five buffalo calves. His name was Frederick Dupree. He found the calves along the Grand River. In fifteen years, the five calves became a herd of fifty-seven animals.



     After Dupree died, James ("Scotty") Philip bought the herd. He moved the buffalo to his ranch. His ranch was near Fort Pierre. He built a fence around the herd. By 1914, there were four hundred buffalo on his ranch.

     South Dakota bought thirty-six buffalo from Philip. The state wanted to start a herd. The animals were put in Custer State Park. Other people bought buffalo from Philip, too.

Scotty Philip
Scotty Philip


Buffalo and Calf
Photo courtesy of South Dakota Department of Tourism

William Hornaday also wanted to save the buffalo. He worked in New York City. Hornaday came to the Great Plains. He was looking for buffalo. He wanted to take them back to the East. He was able to find only a few animals.

     Hornaday worked for preservation of the buffalo. He started the American Bison Society. The members were conservationists. They raised buffalo. They sold them to parks. Fourteen buffalo came to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

     Now almost two hundred fifty thousand buffalo live in North America. Many are descendants of the buffalo that Scotty Philip bought.

conservationists (n.), people who preserve or protect wildlife or nature

delicacies (n.), foods that are not eaten often; treats

descendants (n.), offspring such as children or grandchildren

preservation (n.), keeping or protecting from harm