The Buffalo Hunt

The topic of this lesson is the Buffalo Hunt. The students will be investigating the importance of the buffalo in the Midwest to the Native American tribe. They will also be looking at the decline of buffalo due to buffalo hunting and how the white man pushed Native Americans westward due to the high value of the buffaloes. This lesson fits into our content because the students are currently learning about the Midwest region. We have previously learned about how the Native Americans were pushed westward from the Southeastern region because of the white man taking over the land because of its rich, fertile soil which they used for farming.

Historical Background

During the 1600s, the Lakota Indian tribe lived in North America along the Mississippi River where most of their resources came from. With the fertile land there, the Lakota had the ability to gather food and plant crops, so they could prepare for the long winters. Also, along the Mississippi, the Lakota were able to fish in the multiple lakes and rivers with canoes and hunt for animals along those same waters.

After the 1600s, the Lakota decided to move west to the prairie’s by the Missouri River. Travel was difficult, and many of the Lakota lost their lives during these journeys due to sickness, starvation, or harsh weather. Travel was long, slow, and tedious as the Lakota hauled all of their supplies with them.

When Spanish explorers and colonists began exploring land in North America, many of the horses they brought with them escaped, resulting in herds forming of wild horses. The Lakota learned how to catch these horses to ride them, use them to hunt, and also use them to help carry goods across the plains on their journeys.

The buffalo was a staple animal that provided food and other resources to the Lakota. As the Lakota acquired these horses, they were able to follow the herds on the plains. As the Lakota were hunting the buffalo, they used bow and arrows and they also used horses to drive the buffalo of the sides of mountains. There were many different uses for the buffalo. The buffalo were used as meat, clothes, teepees, tools, and rope.

In the mid to late 1800s, settlers from the east began moving west to plains for the cheap, abundant land. While the railroads were laying tracks westward, many men came to work for the railroad companies. Men were hired to hunt the buffalo to provide food for the laborers on the railroad. Many of the hunters were able to kill over a hundred buffalo a day. The meat was given to the railroad workers, while the expensive hides were sold. The overhunting of the buffalo left the Lakota with a minimal population to hunt which resulted in a much tougher life. The Lakota were forced even farther westward in the late 1800s after fighting with the settlers.

Lesson Objective

By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to describe how the buffalo hunt in the Midwest played an influential role in the Native American survival and how the attraction of the hunt eventually pushed the Native Americans even farther westward.



  1. At the beginning of the lesson, I will read a little excerpt from Russell Freedman’s Buffalo Hunt on the iPad. This will give the students a little background knowledge about how the buffalo hunt played a very influential part in the Lakota tribes’ lives.
  2. After I have finished reading excerpts from the “Buffalo Hunt” book, I will have the students view a PowerPoint presentation that was created with primary sources. While we are going through each of the slides, the students will view each of the primary sources on the slide and be able to answer the essential questions that go with each of the pictures. During the PowerPoint, the students will also watch a short five minute video of a re-enacted buffalo hunt and they will answer questions from watching the video. After each of the slides, I will have the students ask questions on their own for clarification/understanding of the picture.


The students will be writing a story to me from the prompt:

Imagine that you are a young Lakota buffalo hunter. Tell us in your own words about your life, and the people of your tribe.

What is like to be all alone trying to hunt a buffalo? Have you ever killed a buffalo before? Are you afraid?

Tell us about your family

Are they worried about you? Are they proud of you? What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

The students will be graded on how well written their responses are and if they have answered each of the questions asked in the prompt.

Rubric for Buffalo Hunt Story





Most of the paper is on topic

Many sentences are on topic

Some sentences are on topic

Few sentences are on topic

The main idea is supported with many details

The main idea is supported with some details

The main idea is supported with few details

The main idea is not supported with details

All sentences follow the correct organization rules

Many sentences follow the correct organization rules

Some sentences follow the correct organization rules

Few sentences follow the correct organization rules

Most sentences begin differently

Many sentences begin differently

Some sentences begin differently

Few sentences begin differently

All sentences are complete

Many sentences are complete

Some sentences are complete

Few sentences are complete

There are no capitalization, grammar, or punctuation mistakes

There are few capitalization, grammar, or punctuation mistakes

There are some capitalization, grammar, or punctuation mistakes

There are many capitalization, grammar, or punctuation mistakes



Catlin, George. “Catlin and His Indian Guide Approaching Buffalo under White Wolf Skins,” 1846-1848. (Accessed 11-18-2013)

“Scotty Philip’s herd, Fort Pierre, S.D.” [2 hunters standing over dead buffalo]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. (Accessed 11-18-2013)

Bison Skull Pile, ca. 1870.”,_ca1870.png(Accessed 11-18-2013)

Webb, W.E. “Wanton Destruction of Buffalo” in Buffalo Land, 1872. (Accessed 11-18-2013)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.