Buffalo robe

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Hó-ra-tó-a, a Crow warrior with headdress, painted buffalo robe, and hair reaching the ground. Painted by George Catlin, Fort Union 1832.

A buffalo robe is a cured buffalo hide, with the hair left on. They were used as blankets, saddles or as trade items by the Aboriginal people of North America who inhabited the vast grasslands of the Interior Plains.[1] Some were painted with pictographs or Winter counts that depict important events such as epidemics, famines and battles.[2]

From the 1840s to the 1870s the great demand for buffalo robes in the commercial centres of Montreal, New York, St. Paul and St. Louis was a major factor that led to the near extinction of the species. The robes were used as blankets and padding in carriages and sleighs and were made into Buffalo coats.[3]

Only hides taken in winter between November and March when the furs are in their prime were suitable for buffalo robes.[1] The summer hides were used to make coverings for tipis and moccasins and had little value to traders and neither were the hides of bulls.[3][1]

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  1. ^ a b c William Waterston (1863). A Cyclopaedia of Commerce, Mercantile Law, Finance, Commercial Geography, and Navigation. H.G. Bohn. pp. 142–144. 
  2. ^ "Pictograph Robes of the Plains First Nations". Retrieved 2014-02-11. 
  3. ^ a b John Welsted (1 January 1996). The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People. Univ. of Manitoba Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-88755-375-2.