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The Man who Talked to the Buffalo (Goddard 1916:262)

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

One time there was a man who used to talk to the buffalo, and they would do what he told them to do. He would tell them to go to a certain place, to go into the water, and to give him food. Then they would go into the water backwards, and the Indians would kill them with a spear. The calves would say, "unnai" (mother) just as plainly as people do. They took hold of them and killed them. There was one bull they did not kill. He always ran through between the people. Then they would take the dead buffalo ashore and eat them. (Goddard 1916:262)


Footnotes:

1. The narrator in conversation afterward referred to the well-known story of the Man who Married a Buffalo. The bull, which invariably escaped, was the result of this union. “There was a young man who disappeared. They supposed he went among the buffalo. After that they used to see a bull with hair just like a man’s. The buffalo understands what people say because a man used to live among them.” (Goddard 1916:262).


2 The narrator added that the female organs of the buffalo cows were cut off and pushed back into the water before the bodies were removed. No one was allowed to look while this was being done (Goddard 1916:262).


Discussion

In this story a man can communicate with buffalo. The buffalo do as the man asks, giving themselves as food. There is clear communication between the buffalo and people, and one buffalo is recognized as a member of the Beaver community







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