Acclaimed Historian Discusses the Buffalo as an American Icon During Colorado State University’s American West Program

The 23rd American West Program at Colorado State University continues its exploration of "The Buffalo: An American Icon" on June 20 with a presentation on how the image of the American bison has changed through the centuries.

Elliott West, acclaimed historian from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, will discuss the changing image of the American bison from the time of Coronado through the current era of mass advertising and movies like "Dances With Wolves."

"From the time it was first described by European explorers, the bison has had a special association with the American land and its people," West said. "At first it was seen only as one of many odd creatures living here, but in time many people thought it embodied something fundamental in the American identity."

Weekly talks during the American West Program in June and July will feature historians visiting campus from throughout the nation. "This year’s program is an exploration of the myths, realities, artistic interpretation and importance of the buffalo to Plains Indians and other tribes," said Harry Rosenberg, history professor and coordinator of the American West series.

Following West’s talk, Sam Arnold, owner of The Fort restaurant in Morrison, Colo., will bring a slightly different discussion to the table on June 27 when he talks about the buffalo as cuisine. Arnold, a food historian, journalist, world traveler and raconteur, has addressed – and prepared a buffalo dinner for – the James Beard Foundation in New York City and was keynote speaker for a symposium on American cuisine in Santa Fe, N.M.

A visit by Bob Palmer, retired Denver television newscaster and anchor, will highlight the program on July 5. Palmer will discuss "The Buffalo Boondoggle of 1872: A Visit to Colorado by Gen. George Custer and the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia."

In conjunction with the American West Program, the Curfman Gallery in the Lory Student Center will present "Images of the West" by artist Bob Coonts beginning June 12. An opening reception for the exhibit will run 8:30-10 p.m. June 13 at the gallery.

Call 491-6444 for gallery and student center hours.

Following is a schedule of events for the American West Program. All talks except for the July 5 event take place on Tuesdays. The talks begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room C146 Plant Sciences Building and are free and open to the public.

For more information, call Rosenberg at 491-5230.

  • June 20 – "Icons on the Hoof: Changing Images of the Buffalo," Elliott West, historian, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
  • June 27 – "The Buffalo: – A Millennial Entree," Sam Arnold, owner, The Fort restaurant, Morrison.
  • July 5 – "The Buffalo Boondoggle of 1872," Bob Palmer, retired television newscaster and anchor.
  • July 11 – "The Return of the American Bison," Harold Danz, retired National Park Service administrator and executive director of the American Bison Association.
  • July 18 – "When I was a boy, I wanted to be like Buffalo Bill: Now that I’m older, I still want to be Buffalo Bill," Tom Morrison, superintendent of Buffalo Bill Ranch Historical Park, North Platte, Neb.
  • July 25 – "The Importance of the Buffalo in Plains Indian Religion and Culture," JoAllyn Archambault, member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and director of the American Indian Program at the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution.