Buffalo as a Complete Diet

There will be occasion farther on to describe Indian methods of hunting the buffalo, the making of dried meat and pemmican, and the additional uses the buffalo served. It seems proper to point out here that buffalo meat was a complete diet. The modern experiments of Stefansson have shown why. Parts of it were eaten raw and abundant fat was eaten with the lean. The Indians who lived along the Missouri cultivated corn and squashes and their immediate neighbors sometimes got their produce in trade; those who lived near the Continental Divide and on the inner edge of the Great Basin regularly ate a variety of roots; all tribes knew many edible plants on which to fall back in starving times. But most of the Plains tribes lived exclusively on meat, and so except for two or three weeks a year did the mountain men. At rendezvous and at the beginning of the trip West there would be coffee, sugar, hardtack, and bacon, usually nothing more and these in sternly limited quantities. For the rest there was only meat and this meant primarily buffalo meat, fresh, dried, or made into pemmican. No hardier people ever lived. There was no scurvy; in fact, nothing is rarer in the literature than mention of a sick trapper.