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Wednesday, June 29, 2016


As a child of course I always liked Buffalo Bill, looking up to him as a hero. Eventually I found out that he and my own parents were contemporaries, Buffalo Bill dying in 1917 when my folks were about nine.

But I like the American bison ("buffalo"). And recently from an animal-lovers site online I read that Buffalo Bill had killed thousands of buffaloes and even boasted about it (hence his nickname). And as we know, the American Indians suffered because of the white man killing off so many buffaloes, and that the animal almost went extinct. Fortunately the bison is no longer threatened with extinction. Anyhow, this online tidbit made me suddenly disillusioned with my childhood hero. Not only did he kill countless buffaloes, but he was an Army scout in Indian wars, helping to crush our native Americans.

Chief Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill
Today, though, I found out that Buffalo Bill didn't just randomly shoot bison for sport, but killed them for meat to feed the vast number of workers building a railroad across the country. Of course herbivores will jump on this, too, but nevertheless most of the workers were omnivorous and had to eat.

When Buffalo Bill later began his traveling Wild West Show, it not only featured Annie Oakley but also Chief Sitting Bull himself!  And this was after Custer's last stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

What I'm trying to say is that there are many sides to every story. Social media online will bounce us from one side to the other with both incomplete facts or just plain disinformation, riling us up enough to add cruel or ignorant comments as "armchair critics" before we take the time or effort to learn the whole story or at least more about it. There's even much more to the stories I mention above, both pro and con. Nevertheless Buffalo Bill Cody will remain one of my heroes despite the fact that he killed buffaloes. If Chief Sitting Bull can forgive him, so can I.

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