Hidden Buffalo


32 pages
ISBN 0-88995-285-X
DDC jC813'.54






Illustrations by Michael Lonechild
Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University. She is the author of several books, including The
Mountain Is Moving: Japanese Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret
Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


Set in the Western Plains of Canada, this intriguing tale is based on an
ancient Cree legend.

The Cree depend on dried buffalo meat for their winter food, but the
herds have been missing this summer and the people are hungry and
anxious. Young Sky Running has searched for months but seen no buffalo.
He knows that his people cannot survive the winter on Saskatoon berries,
wild turnips, and stray badgers. Harsh weather calls for better food.

After praying to the Great Creator, Sky Running finds a white stone in
the shape of a buffalo, and dreams of a vast river valley filled with
grazing buffalo. The Chief interprets the setting of the youth’s dream
vision as the Badlands area beside the Red Deer River. Although the area
is occupied by the Siksika People, enemies of the Cree, the Chief says
that his people must go there. The Cree warriors travel south for four
days until they come to the crest of a great river valley where vast
herds of buffalo are grazing. The hunters thank the Creator, invite Sky
Running to join them for the first time, and charge down the valley.

Rudy Wiebe, winner of two Governor General’s Literary Awards, has
written a moving tale, epic in impact despite its brevity. Michael
Lonechild, a self-taught artist, was born and raised on the White Bear
First Nation reserve in southeastern Saskatchewan. His beautiful,
detailed illustrations, in mainly fall colours with some unusual hues,
depict Cree life in a realistic way, but with a slightly impressionistic
style. Highly recommended.


Wiebe, Rudy., “Hidden Buffalo,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/24094.