Welcome to Buffalo Tales & Trails
Buffalo Tales & Trails is for everyone who has a soft spot in their heart for buffalo! Here, you’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about buffalo, or bison.
And even if you’re new to the subject, in a surprisingly short time you too can become a buffalo enthusiast. It’s a special niche not many people know.
Wherever you live you can come along—enjoying delightful scenes of spring calves playing, while watchful mammas keep score. Or if you prefer hi-tech, watch the Parks Canada helicopter swing a metal crate loaded with four big husky buffalo on a long steel rope through the mountains at Banff to start a brand-new herd.
We’ll have buffalo stories for you to share—with your buddies at work or your kids—and for history teachers to perk up a classroom of junior high students.
Whatever your background—whether you are a Native American of the Plains steeped from childhood in buffalo lore and tradition, the descendant of homesteaders with an old family buffalo story or two, a modern buffalo rancher, or you live on distant shores—we welcome you and want to hear the buffalo stories and questions you’re willing to share.
Caring for buffalo is a labor of love, as one buffalo rancher says. Loren Smeester of the Silver Bison Ranch in Baldwin, Wisconsin, puts it this way: “You will soon discover that most bison ranchers choose to provide a home for these beautiful creatures—simply because they love the animal—and the peace and tranquility one enjoys as they come to know the great American bison.”
You can enjoy this entirely online from your armchair. Virtual learning is easy. It works. You’ll be able to watch buffalo in all kinds of temper and behavior—the best and the worst!
Still, there’s nothing quite like visiting a real live herd, to get that full measure of peace and tranquility. Most of us can find buffalo—in public parks, private herds to view from the road, or American Indian tribal herds for which you can arrange a personal visit with a Native expert. You might be surprised.
Also, we’d love to have you come visit us here in the northern Great Plains and view our live herds. Stay a few days or a week, enjoy delicious bison meals and we’ll show you our 10 historic and contemporary buffalo sites where you can hike and picnic on national forest lands that look much as they did 150 years ago (see my book Buffalo Trails in the Dakota Buttes: Self-Guided Tour).
The American Bison became the official National Mammal of the United States on May 9, 2016, with the National Bison Legacy Act. It’s a worthy milestone for an animal that played a central role in America’s history, helped shape Native American culture, and then were slaughtered within a hair’s breadth of extinction.
Today, buffalo live in all 50 states, across Canada and serve as a symbol of American unity, resilience and healthy lifestyles and communities
I didn’t know much about buffalo when my husband Bert, a veterinarian, and I moved our family to Hettinger, North Dakota. This is the place, we discovered, where all the buffalo stories come together. Ancient hunting methods of stampeding off buffalo jumps, the last traditional Lakota Sioux hunts, and at nearly the end, ordinary people doing exactly what was needed to save the buffalo. I’ve been collecting buffalo stories ever since.
Sure, I’d seen buffalo here and there, grazing up a green coulee or standing sleepily in a corral. Much like cattle, I thought. Little did I know. These are definitely not cattle! Actually, more like wild animals—deer caught in the headlights!
For over 35 years I’ve been researching buffalo, reading every source I could find, visiting public, commercial and tribal herds, talking with bison ranchers from across the country, scrambling in the rocks above some of the most famous buffalo jumps in the Rocky Mountains, U.S. and Canada, and writing three books about the magnificent buffalo.
People tell me the more you get to know buffalo, the more you love them. It’s true, I’ve found. Yes, along the way, it seems, I’ve been smitten by these majestic animals.
We’re so glad to have you along for the ride! No matter where you live we think you might develop a passion for these iconic animals, too.
And if you’re puzzling over which term to use—bison or buffalo—no sweat! We’ll explain the reasons Americans use the terms interchangeably.
Wherever you live, we want to share this special bit of our American heritage with you and your family.
So please join us on the Buffalo Tales & Trails adventure!
–Francie M. Berg, author of
Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains
Buffalo Trails in the Dakota Buttes
The Last Great Buffalo Hunts
Buffalo Tales & Trails