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Buffalo Song

Buffalo Song

4.0 1
by Joseph Bruchac, Bill Farnsworth (Illustrator)

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Walking Coyote placed his cheek against the frightened buffalo calf's side and sang softly. Lone survivor of a herd slaughtered by white hunters, the calf was one of several buffalo orphans Walking Coyote had adopted and was raising on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. For thousands of years massive herds of buffalo roamed across much of North America, but by


Walking Coyote placed his cheek against the frightened buffalo calf's side and sang softly. Lone survivor of a herd slaughtered by white hunters, the calf was one of several buffalo orphans Walking Coyote had adopted and was raising on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. For thousands of years massive herds of buffalo roamed across much of North America, but by the 1870s fewer than fifteen hundred animals remained. Hunted to the brink of extinction, the buffalo would have vanished if not for the diligent care of Walking Coyote and his family. Here is the inspiring story of the first efforts to save the buffalo, an animal sacred to Native Americans and a powerful symbol of the American west. From the foresight and dedication of individuals like Walking Coyote came the eventual survival of these majestic animals, one of the great success stories of endangered species rescue in United States history.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
In the 1870s, the American buffalo was endangered because of the white man's senseless hunting. A Nez Perce man and his young son rescue a calf that survived one of their attacks and deliver him to Walking Coyote of the Salish nation who, with his wife and son, have a corral for nursing such calves back to health. Their herd grows to nine and Walking Coyote, his wife Mary, and their son make the difficult trek over the mountains to bring the buffalo to more grazing land. The travelers are welcomed with great rejoicing by the Salish people. Walking Coyote cares for the herd, going from pasture to pasture, but eventually realizes he needs help. The herd is purchased by two ranchers who respect the buffalo and their place in Native American culture and bring the buffalo to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, where they grow into a herd of several hundred. Bruchac uses a fictionalized rescued calf to tell his story and draw the reader in. He works drama and levity into the tale while also weaving in the importance of the buffalo to the Native peoples. Farnsworth's oil paintings are filled with the colors of nature as they show the beautiful plains, valleys, and hills of the West. He captures the beauty of both the buffalo and the horses, but his people seem stiff. Bruchac's moving acknowledgements and objective afterword are filled with compassion and respect for those courageous people who rescued these beasts. He also includes his sources. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- After quoting a traditional Salish story about the origins of buffalo on Earth, Bruchac describes how a Nez Perce boy and his father found an orphaned calf in 1873 in Montana and carried it to a friend who had a small herd. The story shifts, somewhat abruptly, to this man, a historical figure named Walking Coyote, who helped to save the species from extinction. With his wife and son, he led nine calves over the mountains to the Salish people. As the herd grew over the years, he finally found a landowner who agreed to keep it safe, making it possible for its descendants to thrive today. The gentle narrative eloquently conveys the beauty and importance of this animal; though there is a bit of adventure during the journey, the heart of the tale is the respect and commitment shown toward the buffalo by Walking Coyote and others. The orphaned calf became the herd's leader, and her courageous actions represent the spirit of the species. Richly atmospheric oil paintings capture the magnificence of the creatures, the kindness of the people, and the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. An afterword updates the fate of the buffalo, providing details of how this herd led to the successful growth in the later 1900s.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR

Kirkus Reviews
The fictional story of one orphaned buffalo calf, Little Thunder Hoof, becomes the vehicle for Bruchac's tale of one extraordinary family and its commitment to saving the Buffalo People. In the 1870s, the American buffalo (bison) was near extinction when Walking Coyote, his wife, Mary, and son, Blanket Hawk, established a corral for animals left behind from the white men's slaughter, where he cared for them until he could take them on the dangerous journey over the mountain to the Salish who welcomed the buffalo. Each year Walking Coyote took more bison over the mountain until the herd numbered in the hundreds and two ranchers, Michel Pablo and Charles Allard, joined the effort to return the buffalo to the prairie. Drenched in nature's colors, the images of the Salish, the landscape and the animals illuminate this historical account as Farnsworth's magnificent panoramic scenes capture the grassy pastures and valley that came to be home to the rescued bison. A first buy for public and school libraries. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 10.75(h) x 0.30(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

Meet the Author

Joseph Bruchac is an Abenaki Indian. He is among the most respected and widely published Native American authors, with over 100 titles in print, including the popular Keepers of the Earth series and Lee & Low's Crazy Horse's Vision, which received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. His YA novel, Wolf Mark, is a Westchester Young Adult Fiction Award winner. A Rockefeller Fellow and an NEA Poetry Writing Fellow, he was the 1999 recipient of the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to writing, Bruchac is an editor at Greenfield Review Press, a literary publishing house he co-founded with his wife. He lives in Greenfield Center, New York.

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Buffalo Song 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SVSU-StudentTO More than 1 year ago
Buffalo Song is a story that takes place in the 1870s. It tells of a how the buffalo, a spiritual animal for Native Americans, was hunted by white hunters into extinction. One particular herd of buffalo was killed and only the tongues of the buffalo were taken, leaving the remaining of the buffalo to decompose in the field. But one small calf of this herd hid in the bushes and was spared. The calf didn't leave her dead mother's side until a small boy and his father found her weak and starving. They took the calf to a buffalo orphanage and from there; the buffalo and their human protectors go on a dangerous journey to find a permanent home. In my opinions this book is a great read that would interest older elementary aged students (5-8th grade). It gives some general insight of the history of Native American people and I would truly recommend this book to others.