For what were buffalo bones used?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The buffalo were very important to the Native Americans. The destruction of the buffalo dramatically impacted the Native American way of living.

All parts of the buffalo were used. The hides could be used to make tepees. Soap was made from the fat. Even the bones were used.

Buffalo bones served several purposes. The bones were used to make various tools including painting tools. The bones were used for some daily functions. For example, the bones could be used as eating utensils, splints, and scrappers. They also could be used for recreational activities. For example, they could be used as toys and game dice. Some people used the bones to make jewelry. Buffalo bones were used to make carbon, which helped with the refining of sugar. The bones were also used to make fertilizer. Other uses included making arrowheads, awls, knives, war clubs, shovels, and pipes.

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The buffalo was of great importance to the Plains Indians before being decimated by early Americans.  Every part of the buffalo was utilized to make everyday items.  The bones of the buffalo were no different.  There were dozens of uses for the bones of buffalo.  The ribs were used as runners for horse-drawn sleds and smaller bones were used to make needles and awls.  The bones could also be ground to make an adhesive that acted like glue for the Indians.  Bones could be used to make a number of items that were used for ceremonial purposes.  As an example, the ribs could be shaped into a dancing stick.  There were likely also ornamental and artistic uses for the the bones of buffalo as suggested by the discovery of bones that had been painted.