1400 to 1699


The First Sightings by Explorers


Early America’s explorers first seeing our bison, had no idea what they were, and they have been called many various terms; buffalo, bison, wild ocshen, buffelo, wild ox, wild cattle, cibola, vaca, wild beast, etc..It depends where and when I am searching. Many remarking they look like those of Europe but much larger and darker. Today, the European bison species is said to be larger than American. (a whole other subject I may or may not get into. A friend commented “rabbit hole”.)   I might also point out that I pretty much ignore articles from out of country because they could be speaking of Asian buffalo. There is no way for me to know in most cases, so they are tossed out of my discoveries. In some cases, however, they will say from America.  (Tyger means any wild cat in America)


1554 American Bison Drawing
American Bison illus. with descriptive text in Spanish 1554 Francisco López de Gómara, La Historia General de las Indians LOC 2006677962


It was in the year 1542 that he (Coronado) reached the buffalo country and traversed the plains that were “ full of crooked backed oxen, as the mountain Serena in Spain is of sheep. ” This is the description of the animal as recorded by one of his followers, Castañeda, and translated by W. W. Davis:
“Another thing which struck us was that all the old buffaloes that we killed had the left ear cloven, while it was entire in the young; we could never discover the reason of this.”


Henry Kellsey, a factor of the Hudson Bay Company, in a report of his explorations in the far west of Canada, in 1691, tells of his party sighting buffalo in large numbers. A few years later this explorer became the first white buffalo hunter on the plains of western Canada. He tells that everywhere the Indians were slaughtering, taking only the choice pieces and leaving the greater portion of each slain body to the wolves which followed in large bands.

1400-to-1699  1699 Buffalo Drawing
 1699, Buffalo Drawing LOC-A new discovery of a vast country in America. Louis Hennepin, London LOC