Buffalo Song


Buffalo Song . Bruchac, Joseph,

illustrated by Farnsworth, Bill; Lee & Low Books, 2008.

Grade Level: 3-5

ISBN & Cost: 978-1-58430-280-3 $18.95



Copyright Lee & Low Books 2008.




Will the buffalo be saved from extinction? Buffalo Song describes the 1873 massacre of large numbers of the valuable animals that had kept the Native Americans alive for centuries. Viewing the needless annihilation of this magnificent species caused some to dream of making efforts to bring the buffalo back to the prairie. This book discusses those individuals who made it their life's work to save some of the animals and re-settle them where they could grow and thrive.


General Review: 

Buffalo Song provides some insight into the history of Native American people, and the connection of the buffalo (or bison) to this culture. Readers will begin to understand what the massacre of the massive animals has meant to Native Americans, as the words of Salish songs are interwoven throughout the text, plaintively crying out the injustice of this slaughter. Students who have always thought of buffalo only as distant and ancient animals (who are considered only when studying Kansas Day!) will gain a new appreciation for the historical and cultural meaning of this creature.


Themes: Kalispel Indians – Biography. ; Kalispel Indians -- Social conditions. ; American bison -- Montana -- Little Bitterroot River. ; Wildlife conservation -- Montana -- Little Bitterroot River.; Walking Coyote


Author information: Something About the Author , volume 42 http://www.josephbruchac.com/bruchac_biography.html


Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)

•  After reading the story, discuss life in 1873 from a buffalo's point of view . What would the buffalo, as well as their Native American brothers, think about how the world around them had changed?

•  What is the meaning behind the title: Buffalo Song ? How might this relate to the words:

Hetcha hey

Hetcha ho

Hetcha hey yeh ho

repeated throughout the book?

3. What is the significance of the “buffalo hair bracelet” described as being presented to Red Elk from Walking Coyote? The books states: “There was no need for Red Elk to speak words of thanks. Walking Coyote knew what was in his heart.”

4. Why do you think the author wrote this book? What was his purpose? Did he succeed? How? What is the main theme or idea overall? Do you agree with this message? Why or why not?



•  Using Internet and book research, make a list of Top Ten Facts about buffalo. Discuss whether you have ever seen one, and where. What is meant by the term “Endangered Species?” Write a report on the why at one time the possibility existed of bison being considered an endangered species. (Standard 1, Benchmark 5)

•  Consider the website http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/bisonqa.htm , as well as other information about the annihilation of buffalo. After researching the subject, write a paragraph about history and destruction of the buffalo culture in the US. Make a timeline to compare and with the events the events and dates described in this book. How historically accurate was the author? (Standard 2; Benchmark 4)

•  How would you compare the work done by Walking Coyote and Michael Pablo as described in the book with animal activists of today? Research PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) 

http://www.peta.org/about/ or other animal activist organizations such as World Society for the Protection of Animals http://www.wspa-usa.org/ 


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Fern, Tracey E Buffalo Music

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