People got really sick for a lot of reasons back then, due to unsafe drinking water and no real knowledge of modern medicine, but I doubt widespread illness was caused by rotting buffalo meat. Any meat they saved was likely packed in salt, smoked, or otherwise cured to prevent spoilage if it couldn’t be eaten immediately. (I also doubt they were stupid enough to eat any meat that had obviously gone bad.) Back in the days before refrigeration, this was the only way to store meat that couldn’t be eaten immediately, and it works well enough that we still do it today. Salt prevents microbial growth, and if the meat is dried as well it can last even longer.
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