Now That the Buffalo's Gone
Buffy Ste-Marie: Now That The Buffalo's Gone
Quiz by Sharon Michiko Yoneda
artist: Buffy Ste. Marie
songwriter: Buffy Ste. Marie
date released: 1964 by Buffy Ste. Marie
"Now That the Buffalo's Gone" is the first song from the 1964 album "It's My Way!" by Canadian First Nations singer-songwriter Buffy Ste-Marie. It's sung her signature vibrato. The song's title refers to the near-extinction of the American buffalo/bison and serves as a metaphor for the cultural genocide inflicted by Europeans. A classic folk protest song, "Now That the Buffalo's Gone" has a simple arrangement with guitar and vocals by Ste-Marie and bass played by Art Davis. The song is a lament that addresses the continuous confiscation of Indian lands. In the song, Sainte-Marie contrasts the treatment of post-war Germany, whose people were allowed to keep their land and their dignity, to that of North American Indians.
As a contemporary example, Ste-Marie mentions how the Treaty of Canandaigua was broken through the building of the Kinzua Dam which refers in this song. While her original lyrics claimed that George Washington signed the treaty, it was actually his agent, Timothy Pickering, who signed.
The song describes ongoing governmental attempts to wrest land from the Iroquois, the Chippewa, and the Cheyenne Nations. Ste-Marie recorded the song again for her 1968 album I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again.
It is a broken record that governments are still breaking promises and stealing indigenous lands, but I believe that informed people can help improve things.