The Buffalo

“The white buffalo woman disappeared over the horizon. Sometime she might come back.

As soon as she vanished, buffalo in great herds appeared, allowing themselves to be killed so that the people might survive.

And from that day on, our relations, the buffalo, furnished the people with everything they needed – meat for their food, skins for their clothes and tipis, bones for their many tools.”

–Legend of the White Buffalo Woman, Brule Sioux

buffalo 1

“We had buffalo for food, and their hides for clothing and our tipis. We preferred hunting to a life of idleness on the reservations where we were driven against our will.”
–Crazy Horse

“Buffalo were the lords of the prairie. To European settlers traveling across America’s Great Plains in the early 1800s, the prairie wind was a constant companion: a gentle whisper echoing across the vast sea of grass that carpeted the center of the North American continent. Sometimes, however, the rumbling of thunder could be heard in the distance, though no storm clouds could be seen. Then the ground would begin to tremble, and suddenly the astonished newcomers would be surrounded by a thundering herd of hulking animals that stretched further than the eye could see. The majestic welcoming committee made it clear that the settlers had, at last, arrived in the buffalo nation — a land where tens of million of American Bison held sway.”


“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”

Before I started painting, I started drawing – family members, animals, everything I could think of to hone my craft and practice proportion, perspective and composition. Naturally, at some point I wanted to try my hand at the subjects that most interest me – characters and scenes from the early American West.

This image, drawn in 2007 from one of the most famous photographs of the man called Geronimo or Goyathlay (“one who yawns”) is, perhaps, my tribute to the man and his legend.

Imagine, for just a moment, a new government took over your country and told you your land was no longer your own, your lifestyle needed to change and your people needed to move. That is exactly what happened to many native cultures, including the Apache. What would you do? Would you wage war?

Geronimo did and his actions – his passion for his people and life – are part of what made Geronimo such a fascinating man. He was a fierce leader who fought against what he believed was the imprisonment of his people.

Of course, not everyone at the time thought of him as a hero – the pioneers and settlers of Arizona and New Mexico were terrified of the man they believed was a cold-blooded murderer. The U.S Government wanted him stopped.

However, to his own people, he embodied Apache values – courage and aggression.

For further reading on the life of Geronimo, here are some links to excellent articles, and I hope you’ll check them out.
How can I not admire a man who fought so hard to preserve his way of life against daunting odds?

I know I would have loved to spend some time listening to this man, learning his history, seeing the world through his eyes, well… perhaps not as a settler or an opponent on the battlefield.

How about you… would you have wanted to know Geronimo?