You can take a trip down the buffalo trail without even leaving your home. Read stories, find information about history, biology, ecology and conservation, take a virtual trip to a see buffalo or a historic site– you can do it all online, no matter where in the world you live. These are just a few sites to get you started!
Download a PDF of online resources, and contact us if we missed something special!
National Public Radio produced a Threshold series on bison conservation, asking the hard question of whether we will be able to live with free-roaming, wild buffalo ever again.
When buffalo became America’s National Mammal, the National Park Service celebrated with 52 weeks of articles about all things buffalo. The Bison Bellows Archives are still available online.
History Research Shenanigans–– Public historian Lauren Markewicz, currently working at Elk Island National Park in Alberta, pens engaging historical articles from a Canadian perspective.
Retroactive is hosted by the Alberta government to describe the history, culture, and peoples of the province. In includes articles about bison history and First Peoples.
Wild Idea Buffalo Co.– The O’Brien family shares their experiences bison ranching and their unique, sustainable practices on the Wild Idea blog.
Aptly named All About Bison® is a unique, educational Web page chock full of facts, history, and references about everything bison. All About Bison® posts current bison news and has superb resources like tables listing all the ways that Plains Indians used bison.
Ranchlands Review is posted by the Zapata Ranch, a unique partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the land’s owner, and Ranchlands, a Colorado management company.
One of the best government blogs is hosted by Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Bison Blog gives a lively account of history and explains some pretty technical bison stuff in ways most of us can handle.
The University of Nebraska hosts a comprehensive, diverse Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (David Wishart, editor). Even scrolling through the rich array of topics, you will get a perspective on how rich the Great Plains really are. From people to the environment to health, law and politics, this is no empty “flyover country”. Contributors include some of the most knowledgable people in their fields.
Digital commons books
Find a free online version of archeologist Jack W. Brink’s Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains, a vivid and rich introduction to communal hunting on the Great Plains and this superb World Heritage site.
A summary of studies from Head-Smashed-in can be found in a handy PDF.
Yellowstone National Park provides a free download of Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society. While heavy duty reading, this comprehensive document includes buffalo history, and a clear-eyed look at current management challenges and future needs.
Sheilagh C. Ogilve’s The Park Buffalo details the history of the historic Pablo-Allard herd and Canada’s ill-fated attempt to establish Buffalo National Park. The Pablo-Allard herd is represented in conservation herds across North America today.
The University of Nebraska maintains Zea EBooks as a digital commons site. There are many publications on the Great Plains available.
Story Maps and presentations
The Wildlife Conservation Society created this multimedia presentation for attendees at the the 2016 American Bison Society Conference- The American Bison.
The Hoosier National Forest (USDA) features a story map on the Vincennes Buffalo Trace. The Buffalo Trace Trail website gives history and resources for visitors to take a virtual walk down Indiana’s oldest trail. The Vincennes Trace was used by Indians, French trappers, pioneers, and yes, buffalo, seeking water and salt licks in the area.
Utah State Parks and Recreation created a multimedia story map to show the annual buffalo herd roundup at Antelope Island State Park.
The study of Dinwoody Glacier, a potential high-altitude buffalo jump, is chronicled in this story map by Central Wyoming College Archeological Field Schools.
The U.S. Department of the Interior created The American Bison: A National Symbol to explore art, archeology, history and natural history through museum objects in DOI’s collections.
You can visit the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in person, or view collections, learn about the Smithsonian Zoo’s bison exhibit, search for bison articles in the Smithsonian magazine, and find interactive online activities.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City’s Central Park hosts an online anthropology collections database. You can search for a range of artifacts in the collection by type and tribe.
Prince of Wales Heritage Museum has superb online exhibits, including one on steppe bison from the Ice Age that describes discoveries of mummies as permafrost thaws in the far north.
Manitoba Museum hosts a searchable Collections Database. You can search for objects in a range of categories, including paleontology, archeology, and ethnology. Canada Museum of History oversees the Virtual Museum of Canada for all museums. Lose yourself in a wealth of online exhibits about wildlife, First Peoples, communal hunting, the Ice Age, and many more themes.
Preservation 50 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. In commemoration of this milestone, several states with buffalo history produced videos describing amazing sites.
Yellowstone National Park offers a great photos and video collection so you can preview the park or find a resource for your blog post or communication project. The Bison Management Web page is chock full of honest, helpful information and links to plans. You can find a series of videos with questions about bison management in Yellowstone.
Many state and federal parks and refuges create videos to help people view buffalo online and in person. Here, Donald Beard, Park Superintendent at Caprock Canyon State Park gives a breezy overview of buffalo history, visitor safety, and the stunning lands he manages.
The Smithsonian Channel hosts a video collection on the history of buffalo and their role in Plains Indians society. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is a non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, maintained to help connect people with our cultural heritage. Recordings of Plains Indians music and ceremonies, some from a a century ago, can be found in the collection.
Historic photos, documents, and maps are available from a number of sources. Make sure to check use restrictions and attributions before using photos, especially for commercial use. Records are available with each item. This is a short list; many universities and states have collections available.
- U.S. Library of Congress
- U.S. National Archives
- Library and Archives Canada
- Montana Memory Project
- Montana Historical Society
- Peel’s Prairie Provinces
- Smithsonian Archives
Online University Courses and Programs
Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada, specializes in online education. Among many other offerings are programs in archeology and anthropology. Established in 1970, AU has built a strong foundation in distance learning. Athabasca University Press is an open access press, with award-winning books available online. Visit to peruse a rich library on all things Alberta.