CHIEF BIG BUFFALO
BUFFALO CLAN MEMBERS
An average buffalo bull provided a great deal of meat, about 700 kilograms. Prepared fresh, the meat was roasted on a spit or boiled in a skin bag by adding stones hot from the fire to make a rich soup. The remaining meat was cut into thin slices and dried in the sun to produce jerky or it was made into pemmican, a high protein food which consisted of dried meat pounded into a powder and mixed with melted buffalo fat and berries. Both foods were packed tightly into skin bags and would remain edible for years. Almost nothing of the buffalo was wasted. Bones were fashioned into tools and horns served as containers, sinew was used as thread and shaggy hair was braided into halters. Hooves were either made into rattles or boiled to make glue. The hides of the animal provided most of the clothing for the Indians and were sewn together to produce tipi covers.
The women were experts in the tanning of skins, a long and tiring process. This process was considered so important that each woman was judged largely on the quality and quantity of the skins she tanned. Even making the simplest hard rawhide for moccasins was an exhausting process that required both sides of the skin to be scraped clean; soft skin took a week to produce. The women also made the tips, and therefore had ownership of them. In addition to the preparation meats and skin women made weapons, shields, tools, drums, and pipes, although men were the primary hunters.