Whetung Ojibwa Centre
Hidden Buffalo is a wonderful children's picture book that combines great storytelling with brilliant illustration. The story is set among the Plains Cree of the distant past. A band has gone through a lean summer without locating the buffalo herds. Fall has arrived and there is no sign of the much-needed herds. A young man named Sky Running looks out across the distance and realizes that winter will be severe without the food provisions. At the evening campfire he listens as his grandmother explains how the buffalo reside in the depths of a lake. She tells how the Creator provided that if these hidden buffalo gave themselves for the people's food then they would be rewarded with strong and healthy calves. The buffalo willingly complied. However, this year the buffalo had become scarce. Grandmother explains that she believes the buffalo remain in the lake but more powerful eyes are required to find them. As Sky Running walks about the camp he implores the help of the Creator to send the buffalo. The boy locates a white buffalo-shaped stone which he shows his grandmother. The boy complains that the family can't eat stone but his wise grandmother encourages the youth to keep the stone warm. During the night, the boy dreams a vivid scene where he sees herds of buffalo grazing in a strange territory. In the morning he shares the dream and the camp's leader explains that this territory is the Badlands, the home territory of the Siksika (Blackfoot). Currently the Siksika and Cree are enemies but the hunger of the band forces them to take a chance of the youth's dream. The entire camp travels to the distant Badlands and are rewarded. Here they locate a giant buffalo herd and Sky Running is honoured with leading the men on the hunt. Wonderfully vivid two-page spreads by Cree artist Michael Lonechild capture the Plains landscape during the fall. His realistic images are worth the price of the book. A great story for primary students about the importance of the buffalo for the Plains Cree. This book is selected as a recommended title in the 2009 First Nations Libraries Community Reads program.