Monday, April 10, 2006

"...a scale that was truly grand"

The army of half-breeds and Indians which annually went forth from the Red River settlement to make war on the buffalo was often far larger than the army with which Cortez subdued a great empire. As early as 1846 it had become so great, that it was necessary to divide it into two divisions, one of which, the White Horse Plain division, was accustomed to go west by the Assinniboine River to the “rapids crossing-place,” and from there in a southwesterly direction. The Red River division went south to Pembina, and did the most of their hunting in Dakota.
From The Extermination of the American Bison, by William T. Hornaday

An example of the scale of a typical hunt - "In June, 1840, when the Red River half-breeds assembled at Pembina for their annual expedition against the buffalo, they mustered as follows..."

To read more about what it was like, read this eyewitness account...