Project 93: The Rise and Fall of the Buffalo Population in Canada

Student Name(s): Omar

School: Edmonton Islamic Academy

Grade: 4


Research Topic / Main Questions:

Why did the population decrease in the Canadian plains? Why are buffalos important to First Nations? How can you learn more about the buffalos?

Why did you choose this topic:

I chose to research buffalos because they are interesting animals. In social studies, I have studied that this animal is special to First Nations. I was very sad to read about the drop in population. The fall in the population of buffalo changed the traditional way of life for First Nations people. Maintaining culture is important to me.

Please summarize your experience in researching this project?

Buffalos are sacred to First Nations people. Before the arrival of Europeans, they were easily found on the plains of Canada. Their population was strong because First Nations people hunted only what they needed. Buffalo provided food and shelter. We have studied how First Nations groups in southern Alberta used Head-Smashed In Buffalo Jump.

However, the introduction of guns during the fur trade changed everything. People started hunting for money instead of what was needed. Piles of buffalo hides started arriving at fur trading posts. This led to the fall of the buffalo population. Along with disease and the introduction of alcohol and tobacco, the traditional way of life of First Nations started to fall as well.

How did you personally connect to this project?

In Islam, protecting animals is important. I follow the holy Quran. It is mentioned that wasting natural resources is forbidden. I am grateful for everything that I have. Protecting my identity and culture is important for my quality of life. I was very sad to see that the fall of the buffalo population affected the culture and traditional way of life of First Nations.

What are your conclusions about your topic?

The fur trade between First Nations and Europeans had a huge effect on the buffalo population. The introduction of rifles led to a steady decline in the numbers. People no longer hunted what they needed, but they hunted for what they wanted. People began to be motivated for money and profit. Pictures of dead buffalos lying down were photographed in Canadian galleries. These pictures show the waste of natural resources and the fall of the buffalo population. The First Nations’ traditional way of life was no longer possible.