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Lithograph of an American Indian on horseback killing a bison. Circa 1850-1860.
Lithograph of an American Indian on horseback killing a bison. Circa 1850-1860.Library of Congress
Lithograph of an American Indian on horseback killing a bison. Circa 1850-1860.
Stereoscopic view of a Bison. Circa 1875.
A postcard illustrating Bison at water. Circa 1898-1931.
Herd of American Bison, browsing in safety, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Circa 1895-1920.
American bison, circa 1906.
Bison in the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Circa 1907.
An American bison, circa 1930.
A herd of bison migrating south from Yukon. Circa 1930.
Bison herd in Arizona. 1935.
On a ranch in southern Michigan; there are several hundred wild bison snorting and pawing the ground and ready to toss all intruders. 1945.
A North American Bison, circa 1950s.
Bison in Wildlife Refuge
Bison crowded together in a corner of one of their enclosures at Daniels Park.
The most photographed Bison in Montana, 1957.
Herd of bison roaming across National Bison Range in Montana. 1961.
Lithograph of an American Indian on horseback killing a bison. Circa 1850-1860.
Library of Congress
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See Majestic Historical Photos of the U.S.’s New National Mammal

The President signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law on Monday, making bison the country's first national mammal. The animal is already a state symbol of Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming, and appears on the Wyo. and Kan. state flags.

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The law is the culmination of a four-year push by a coalition of more than 60 organizations, businesses, Native American tribes and wildlife advocates who hope that the recognition will help preserve the species in the future — despite bison almost going extinct at the turn of the 20th century. Experts believe the number of bison dropped from roughly 30 million bison in the 16th century to less than 1,000 by the late 19th century, due to a combination of environmental problems and economic demand for their hides, which drove overhunting. A national effort to reverse trend helped ferry the remaining ones to protected areas, and by the mid-20th century, the species had started to make a comeback.

MORE: Jared Leto: The Bison’s Comeback Is an American Epic

While roaming through this gallery of bison roaming, keep in mind that these are technically bison not buffalo—though Americans tend to use the terms interchangeably—because they have shorter horns and shoulder humps.

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