Here’s your BUFFALO STORY OF THE WEEK!
If you have a roomful of eager 7th or 8th graders-just waiting to hear a buffalo story– great!
And if you don’t–well tell this one to your Dad or Mom–or someone at work or the Senior Center who has a soft spot in their heart for buffalo.
You can brighten their day. And brighten your own with the telling and the chuckle you both can share.
Please share your favorite (true) buffalo story with us. We’d love to hear it.
Write it here and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buffalo take care of each other, says Mike Faith, who was Standing Rock’s Buffalo Manager for some 20 years. He’s now Tribal Chairman.
Faith says buffalo watch each other for warning signs of danger or stress.
When it comes time for a cow to give birth she finds a secluded place such as a ravine with trees. There she has time for herself, to be alone when the calf is born.
When alone, she is able to bond with her newborn, nourish it, and defend that calf until its strong enough to join the herd.
Stories of amazing exploits by Native hunters were told and retold around evening campfires.
Living among the Northern Cheyenne for a time, George Grinnell recorded more than one time when a hunter shot one arrow entirely through the bodies of two buffalo.
And if an arrow did not sink deep enough, the hunter often jerked it out of the running buffalo and fired it again.
The last wild buffalo had disappeared, along with their meat and hides. Their whitened bones had been picked up, hauled to the nearest railroad and sold for fertilizer.
But after all that, there was still one last gift of the buffalo sprinkled across the western plains—dried buffalo chips.
Native Americans had always burned buffalo chips where trees were scarce. These large, chips or “buffalo pies,” when dried burned quickly to start a fire. They produced hot fires to warm the tepee or to roast a meal.
Traditionally Native grandparents taught children that, “The buffalo are our brothers.”
In turn, children learned to respect the buffalo, and remember to thank them for their many gifts.
Stories were often told to strengthen the bond between buffalo and humans.
Many buffalo stampedes were described by hunters, soldiers and early settlers on the plains and prairies. They regarded stampedes as spectacular and grand, but “awful in its results,” according to David A. Dary in The Buffalo Book.
It took little provocation at times to get a stampede started—the yipping of a prairie dog, the cry of a wolf or coyote, a flash of lightening, or a clap of thunder could set it off.
Bears Arm, a second chief of the Hidatsa, told how he got caught on foot in the middle of a stampeding buffalo herd.
It was during the glorious days of “running buffalo.” Those days arrived with horses on the northern plains, sometime after 1700 and ended with the last of the wild buffalo in 1883.
The first horses arrived in Puerto Rico, North America, with Columbus and the Conquistadors on his second voyage in 1493.
I’ll leave you with a remarkable buffalo story—one of my favorites—told by a soldier on the Plains way back in buffalo hunting days.
One day an army surgeon was out buffalo hunting. As he headed back to camp he saw what he described as “the curious action of a little knot of 6 or 8 buffalo.”
Riding closer, he saw they were all bulls, standing in a tight circle with their massive heads facing out, snorting and pawing dirt.
A dozen large gray wolves danced around them in impatient expectancy, licking their chops.