Trails of the Buffalo (next line) Past-Present-Future
  Casady School
  Louise and Clayton Bennett

Artist's Description

Our buffalo is a symbolic narrative of the trails and trials of the buffalo - Skies are used as metaphors for what happened to the buffalo throughout the years. Sunshine, open skies with clouds, gradually darkening and turning stormy, with eventual devastation and destruction represented by a tornado... the flag represents Teddy Roosevelt and the establishment of the National Parks and Nature Conservancy...gradually giving rise to HOPE, which is symbolized by a sunrise with a rainbow and clear, blue skies for the future. The skull on the forehead represents the Indian's reverence for the buffalo.

Facing the front of our buffalo: on the LEFT side (starting at the rear and coming forward) the PAST is represented with vast open PLAINS - the domain of huge migrating herds ROAMING FREE in search of grazing grasses and water, under "blue skies". Beneath these skies are an Indian Village with Teepees representing the sharing of the land with the buffalo. When the Indians killed the buffalo for food and clothing they made use of everything and wasted nothing. As westward expansion brought more people, trains, and settlers to the plains, the
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buffalo were "brutally killed" in large numbers and their carcasses left to rot. The number of buffalo roaming the plains went from 300 million to only about 800 by l890. Consequently our skies gradually turn stormy with dried grasses leading to a tornado.

Going to the other side of the buffalo there is an American Flag in the sky representing legislation that saved the buffalo and established the National Parks. A peaceful sunrise with a rainbow flows into blue skies once again; symbolizing the bright future of the buffalo that is now secured in wildlife preserves, national parks and domestic ranches.

On the base of our buffalo you will find small pieces of tan paper with beautiful poetry written by our 5th grade students. We hope these look like pebbles. Originally we wanted to hang them from the horns, but as vandalism was becoming a problem on some of the buffalo that were already installed, we decided to glue them on the base. Some of these are conceptually profound, in my opinion.

Spirit of the Buffalo originated as a public art project combining art, commerce and civic pride in Oklahoma featuring Oklahoma artists. Initial proceeds benefited the Nature Conservancy's work in Oklahoma. The website project continues through private funds.