One of the great worries American Indians had when the white man started encroaching was watching the depletion of nature occur at an accelerated pace. Trees were cut down, mountains plowed through, rivers damned and bridged; as well as animals slaughtered for meat, fur, hides and bones. The white man was a whirling dervish of waste and destruction. This led Native Americans to some destructive behavior of their own. They hunted the bison to the brink of extinction in an effort to deprive the white man of a primary food source. It didn’t work. the white man kept coming and ate elk, deer and antelope in lieu of buffalo. It was one of many desperate measures taken in order to stanch the inexorable march of the murderers, thieves and rapists who stole our country for us.
Of course it didn’t work, and the genocide and internment of the First Nation tribes, which exists to this day, was a fait accompli. The grinding erosion and elimination of natural resources, plants and animals also assumed a murderous pace as well. The making of this Republic was a bloody, awful business. It meant the unmaking of a natural world. Naturalists will tell you that extinction is part of nature. As the planet changes, each species’ ability to change with it is tested. The last passenger pigeon died in a Cincinnati zoo in 1912.
They were at one time so plentiful. It would take 2 or 3 days for a single flock of them to pass over head during migration. Less than a hundred years later, they were extinct. The march of mankind did them in. New emigres from Europe would feed them to their hogs. Massive “pigeon shoots” were commonplace. There was an idea out there that the supply of passenger pigeons was infinite. This, sadly, is an American thought. We devour the world in front of us because we think there will always be more. We plan…and nature laughs.