Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide: Day 5
A Buffalo by Any Other Name
“I pretended I was a young Indian boy who had carved the arrowhead to use to hunt the buffalo that ate the buffalo grass. In my imagination, I would bring the slain buffalo back to my camp, where I would be cheered and where the buffalo would be used for meat and the hides for blankets and clothing.” ~ Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux
The buffalo that Tomas is thinking about are actually American bison, but buffalo is the term given to the animal by French settlers and would have been what Tomas would have used. The Lakota word is Tatanka.
According to the National Park Service, about 60 million bison are estimated to have been in North America during the time of Columbus, and 40 million were in the United States in 1800. Only 100 years later, during the time period of Oscar’s Gift, only 600 (yes, 600) remained on the continent.
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