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When Buffalo Ran by  George Bird Grinnell

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THE PLAINS COUNTRY

[9] SEVENTY years ago, when some of the events here recounted took place, Indians were Indians, and the plains were the plains indeed.

Those plains stretched out in limitless rolling swells of prairie until they met the blue sky that on every hand bent down to touch them. In spring brightly green, and spangled with wild flowers, by midsummer this prairie had grown sere and yellow. Clumps of dark green cottonwoods marked the courses of the infrequent streams—for most of the year the only note of color in the landscape, except the brilliant sky. On the wide, level river bottoms, sheltered by the enclosing hills, the Indians pitched their conical skin lodges and lived their simple lives. If the camp were large the lodges stood in a wide circle, but if only a few families were together, they were scattered along the stream.

In the spring and early summer the rivers, swollen by the melting snows, were often deep and rapid, but a little later they shrank to a few narrow trickles running over a bed of sand, and sometimes the water sank wholly out of sight.

The animals of the prairie and the roots and berries that grew in the bottoms and on the uplands gave the people their chief sustenance.

In such surroundings the boy Wikis was born and [10] grew up. The people that he knew well were those of his own camp. Once a year perhaps, for a few weeks, he saw the larger population of a great camp, but for the most part half a dozen families of the tribe, with the buffalo, the deer, the wolves, and the smaller animals and birds, were the companions with whom he lived and from whom he learned life's lessons.

The incidents of this simple story are true.

The life of those days and the teachings received by the boy or the girl who was to take part in it have passed away and will not return.


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