The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 173

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2002 Archeological Investigations at the Battle of Red River Site

the Indians voluntarily moved to the reservations and tried to live by the
terms of the treaty, they found it almost impossible to do so because the
U.S. government did not live up to its end of the bargain of furnishing ad-
equate food and supplies to the Indians. The Indians were used to sub-
sisting largely on fresh meat, but they were issued only limited supplies of
salt pork and cornmeal. The government had planned to furnish seeds
and tools to the Indians for three years, and the rations had been intend-
ed as supplementary to the foods the Indians were supposed to produce
themselves. However, the Indians had no interest in learning to farm, and
they were hostile to the idea of taking up any kind of labor except hunt-
ing. In general, neither the goods nor the projected life at the reserva-
tions was attractive to the Indians, and they immediately began to drift
back to the plains. Within a year, the majority of the reservation Indians
had gone back to hunting on the buffalo plains, paying no attention to
their imposed boundaries."
Three years after the Medicine Lodge Treaty went into effect, a series of
events took place that brought the uprising of the Southern Plains Indi-
ans to a head and sealed their fate. In the fall of 1871, a young New Eng-
lander named Josiah Wright Mooar came west and founded the business
of hunting buffalo for hides. Within a matter of months, buffalo hides
were in such demand by eastern tanners that hundreds of hide hunters
rushed to the plains to take part in the suddenly lucrative business. Rail-
roads penetrated deeply into the buffalo range at numerous points and
were carrying away buffalo hides by the thousands to the eastern markets.
Dodge City, in southwestern Kansas, became the center of the trade. In
1873 alone, the three rail lines serving Dodge City carried away over
750,000 hides, and for the three years 1872 to 1874 an incredible
4,373,730 buffalo were killed. That figure was for the rail exports alone;
other sources added at least one million more to the total."
The Indians to the south found the wanton slaughter of the buffalo dis-
dainful, but they made no concerted effort to stop it, since the commer-
cial hunters were confined to lands north of the Arkansas River. Under
the terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, land to the south of the Arkansas
River was considered Indian hunting grounds, and the hide hunters re-
spected the boundary, at least in the early years of the treaty. Only after
the northern Kansas buffalo were gone did the hunters venture south of
the Arkansas River into the Indian hunting grounds. The buffalo hunters
slaughtered the buffalo by the thousands, and in one season's kill obliter-
Fehrenbach, Comanches, 481.
"Jerry L. Rodgers, "The Flint and Steel: Background of the Red River War of 1874-1875," Texas
Mzlztary History, 7, no. 3 (1969), 153-175; Richard Irving Dodge, The Plains of the Great West and
Their Inhabitants (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1877), quoted in General Nelson A. Miles, Per-
sonal Recollections and Observations (Chicago: Werner Co., 1896), 159.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. ( accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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