Native To America Hunting, Cooking & Butchering Bison Meat

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Sometimes bison were killed using a method learned by watching coyotes. One animal would be separated from the rest of the herd, then chased in circles until exhaustion set in, causing the bison to either collapse or give up. However, other techniques were developed that could be used to slaughter enormous numbers of buffalo at once. Often, these tactics would produce such huge amounts of meat that there would be far more than the tribe could consume.

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After the kill, the hunters would make their way down to the land beneath the precipice where camp would be made. Tipis would be erected and the work of butchering the buffalo meat would commence. There’s archaeological evidence of one technique where the first cut would be made down the back, exposing the tender cuts of meat beneath the surface. Next, the meat of the large and muscular hump would be revealed by removing the front legs and shoulder blades. When these cuts were made it would allow access to the rib meat and nutrient rich organs. After butchering these areas, the spine was severed and the pelvis and hind legs removed. Lastly, the neck and head were cut away as one piece.

Native To America Hunting, Cooking & Butchering Bison Meat — Beck & Bulow

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The hump was considered to be choice meat and was sometimes prepared cut into steaks, sewed up in a piece of hide and cooked in an oven dug into the earth. The fatty tongue was considered by some to be a delicacy. It was said that the different parts of the bison had energetic medicinal properties for the corresponding areas of the human body. Eating the tongue could heal imbalances with communication and singing, and all of the organs were highly valued for these qualities as well as their bountiful nutrition.

Colonial Waves of Change

As time passed and colonial settlers began to arrive in the land of the bison, the population plummeted. Some of this mass killing of the buffalo was a result of military involvement and attempts to weaken native tribes by eliminating their main food source. There’s also speculation that as Native Americans began to use firearms, overhunting became commonplace with these newfound powerful weapons. By the 1880s, there were fewer than 100 bison in the wild. They very nearly went extinct before conservation efforts were made, restoring the population enough to stabilize from this threat. Today there are around 500,000 bison in America.

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