Zuni Fetishes – The Buffalo (3 of 7)

Until the 1800’s (19th century) the great Buffalo roamed the American plains in huge herds. It was not uncommon to have thousands of buffalo in a herd. Their migration patterns help to craft the Native American’s living habits as strongly as the great prairie fires that occurred during summer and fall seasons. During the late 1800’s the hunting of the Buffalo became a lucrative source of income for both Native Americans as well as the new people settling in the American Southwest. Buffalo hides brought in large sums of money, and by the turn of the century, the Buffalo were hunted close to complete extinction.

In the early 1900’s, Buffalo conservation began to turn around the almost inevitable disappearance of these animals. Several notable Americans began to raise and protect Buffalo on their own ranches instead of hunting them. Because of these efforts the Buffalo population is approximately 350,000 today in North America. Though a small fraction of the 60-100 Million estimated Buffalo that roamed the prairies in the mid 1800’s, the current population continues to grow.

Next up, how the buffalo became an integral part of the Native Americans’ lives; so much so that they began to embellish their turquoise jewelry with images of these great animals as well as carve them out of stone to create Zuni fetishes. An example that combines both turquoise jewelry and Zuni fetishes can be seen to the right.  This is a pair of earrings that include 2 carved buffalo fetishes.

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