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The Buffalo Chase

by Clifford Taylor

This story appeared in The Carlisle Arrow, volume VIII, number 27, Carlisle Indian School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1912. Clifford Taylor was a Kitkahahki, a son of Robert Taylor and Sallie Taylor. Clifford was born about 1889 and died in 1914. He was an older brother of Hugh Ralph Taylor, who was a son of Robert Taylor and Angie Taylor (a sister of Sallie Taylor). Hugh was the grandfather of Anna Lee Walters, author of Talking Indian (1992), a book that includes a discussion of her family history.

Many years ago, before the western plains of our country were discovered and explored by white men, large herds of buffalo and deer roamed over the vast area of pasture lands, shifting north or southward as the grass became scarce, or resting near salt licks which were numerous on the plains. The Indians having little or no knowledge of tilling the soil, or the use of machinery, farming was of no value to him. He enjoyed the out-of-door life, fishing, trapping and hunting or perhaps trailing across the prairies in search of big game. Oftentimes he found it difficult to come within close distance of his game. To deceive his prey he carried a robe which he placed upon his back, and which covered his body, and prowling about in disguise he succeeded in getting within shooting distance. This crafty trick was practiced by the Pawnees, and they are termed Foxes by the neighboring tribes because of the fact that they disguised themselves in such robes. As he possessed skill in hunting, trailing and trapping, hunting was his chief occupation. The deer and buffalo supplied him with meat, and the hides were worked from which moccasins, leggings and other garments were made. As there were no large extensive wheat fields and busy flour mills to supply him with flour for bread, Indian maize took the place of wheat.
Early in the spring maize was planted, cultivated, and cared for by the squaws by means of rude implements or hoes made from bones or rocks. All the work about the camp or village rested upon the industrious squaws. While the female sex labored at home the braves were on a hunting expedition.
Perhaps there was no other sport enjoyed by the savages as was the buffalo chase.
This chase was held in the spring and fall of the year, often lasting for several days, depending upon the scarcity of game.
They were not held for mere sport, but all game killed was packed home, dressed, and prepared for storage to be used during the coming winter.
Since the settlement and discovery of the plains, the buffalo and deer have rapidly disappeared, and the Indian has settled on his farm allotted to him; but the custom of the chase is still held and exercised by a few tribes. The Ponca tribes of Indians near the One Hundred and One Ranch, Bliss, Oklahoma, still observe the chase.
Every fall of the year the chase is held under the auspices of the Miller Brothers, at Bliss.
Many people gather to witness the event.