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The History of Braintan:    page 5

The Disappearance of Buckskin....

Buckskin making has always been done by hand. It has never been successfully industrialized. As the industrial revolution penetrated America, durable woven fabrics became available. Made in factories, with all their advantages of material and human exploitation, they were not as durable as buckskin, but they were cheap and much more durable than anything else the machines had churned out. One of these new materials was known as blue jeans, Levi's. Over the year's, Levi's took the place of buckskin in people's wardrobe, until the use and manufacture of buckskin was all but forgotten. It was even discouraged on the reservations. By the turn of the century, most Indians stopped making and wearing brain tan buckskin.

This same period marked the lowpoint of North American deer populations. They had been overhunted for decades by market hunters providing meat and skins to the mining camps, the railroad crews and the rest of the frontier. They were hunted almost as intensely as Buffalo, but survived because they lived in diverse habitats coast to coast rather than in giant herds on the open prairie. Their population in the U.S. bottomed out at an estimated 500,000 between the years of 1875 and 1915.

"It (the deer) is so abundant in certain portions of the Pacific Coast that I have heard of market hunters who killed five and six hundred in a season by stalking alone, and it was reported to me in 1874 that over three thousand were slaughtered within a period of five months in a region having an area of less than two hundred miles, and that most of them were sent to market and sold at four cents, or two pence per pound."
John Mortimer Murphy (1879)
"This ruthless destruction is producing the most disastrous results, for where mule deer were so plentiful in 1868 that they could be seen by the hundred in a march of twenty-four hours, scarcely a dozen could be seen in the same region in 1877."
Same author describing market deer hunting in Montana.
As the industrial revolution penetrated America, deerskins started to be tanned by the new chrome process. Though the chrome tanned skins were weaker, didn't breath, responded poorly to washing and perspiration, the chrome process made use of inexpensive chemicals and was easy to produce with the new machines. Buckskin tanning is a labor intensive process, lending itself to home-crafting rather than production in a factory.

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