Buffalo Woman

Origin: North American Indigenous Plains Tribe

Theme: The loyalty of a son can reunite a family.

Narrator: There was a young hunter who was very good at catching game. His tribe relied on him to find buffalo to feed and clothe them. The hunter was very respectful to the buffalo and would only kill what was needed and would give thanks to the buffalo for giving their lives. One day the young hunter was by a stream. A buffalo cow approached the stream, and the hunter readied his bow to kill the cow. Something strange happened.

It was almost as if the hunter went to sleep for a moment. He looked up and the cow was no longer there, instead there was a young woman. She was not from his tribe. Her hair was not braided, but fell loosely to her waist, smelling of wild sage and prairie flowers. The hunter loved her at once. The young woman had come from the Buffalo Nation to be his
wife. They were married and had a son named Calf Boy. They were very happy, but his family was jealous of her. One day when the hunter was gone, his family came and said to her,

Hunter’s Mother You should go away. He doesn’t really love you. You are like an animal anyway.
Narrator: The woman grabbed up Calf Boy and ran away. Just then the hunter came back to the village. He saw his wife and son leaving. He ran after them and followed their tracks all day. At the end of the day, he came to a tipi with smoke rising from a fire inside. Calf Boy came out to meet him and said,

Calf Boy: It’s good you came, mother has a meal waiting for you.

Buffalo Woman: I’m going home. Your people were cruel to me. But you must not follow. There is great danger ahead for you.

Hunter: I love you, and I will go wherever you go.

Narrator: The next morning, the hunter woke up and the tipi was gone. It wasn’t a dream because he could see the tracks of his wife and son leading away. He followed the tracks all day until he came upon the tipi again. His son ran out to meet him and said,

Calf Boy: Mother says you shouldn’t follow us anymore.

Buffalo Woman: I am going up to the high ridge to my people. Do not follow anymore, because they are angry that your family was unkind to me, and they will kill you.

Hunter: I love you, and I will go wherever you go.

Narrator: When she slept, the hunter tied his wife to him and wrapped her hair around his wrist. It didn’t help. The next morning his wife and his son had disappeared. He looked and looked and finally found their tracks and followed them. But the tracks were no longer human. Now, they were a cow and calf’s tracks. He followed the tracks to a high ridge and saw a huge herd of the Buffalo Nation. As he started over the ridge, a young buffalo came toward him and said,

Calf Boy: Father you must go back now because they will kill you.

Hunter: I won’t go back. I will always stay with you and mother.

Calf Boy: If you must stay, listen to me. Whatever you do, do not show that you are afraid. They will ask you to choose me and mother out of the herd. You will know me because I will flick my ear, and I will put a cockleburr on mother’s back so that you will know her.

Narrator: A huge bull bellowed and charged at him. The ground trembled as his hoofs hit the ground, but the hunter did not move or show any fear.

Chief Bull: You have saved yourself by your courage, Straight-up Person. You have a strong heart. Now follow me.

Narrator: The buffalo herd parted as the bull led the hunter to the center of the circle. There was a painted tipi in the center and all the buffalo formed circles around the tipi, going from youngest to oldest.

Chief Bull: Now you must find your son and wife.

Narrator: All the buffalo looked alike, but the hunter used the clues his son had given him and picked them out of the vast herd.

Chief Bull: This Straight-up Person loves his wife and son so much that he is willing to die for them. We will make him one of us.

Narrator: The buffalo took him inside the tipi and covered him with a buffalo robe. For three days the buffalo surrounded the tip and grunted and bellowed. Then they rushed the tipi and knocked it down and rolled over the hunter over and over until his breath was gone. At that point they breathed new life into him, and he stood up on four legs as a buffalo.

Through his sacrifice, courage, bravery, commitment, and love for his wife and son, the young hunter became a link between the people and the Buffalo Nation. From that time on, the buffalo provided meat and clothes to the people. The people returned the respect to the buffalo by singing praises to them.

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