The Last of the Buffalo, oil on canvas, 1885. Albert Bierstadt, 1830-1902, American.
Corcoran Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
It is widely understood that it was not the American Indians who reduced the stock of the American buffalo (American bison) from an estimated 60 million in 1800 to 300 in 1900.
300. Their population has been restored to approximately 500,000
The time has not yet come for explanatory texts with the display of a painting like Alfred Bierstadt’s.
So inimical is the American pursuit of happiness to the philosophy and ecology of the native peoples of the United States, that the time may never come for a redress of their grievances.
Of which wall plaques in our great museums would be, probably, the tiniest, most minuscule part.
Vintage and widely known photos of the hunting near to extinction of the American bison in the Plains states of the United States prior to 1900
Things, however, do change, if slowly.
An uncounted number followed the arrival of hundreds of American Indians at the buffalo farm of Peter Fay in Connecticut in 2012 for the welcome and naming of a rare white buffalo, an arrival believed to portend good.
The birth of a white bison at a farm in Connecticut in 2012. Photo by Douglas Healey for The New York Times