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October 1, 2011
Kevin Williams, Grundy County Conservation Director

I believe I've mentioned before in this column that I like bison. If you ever watched the movie or read the book Dancing with Wolves, you know that an American Indian name for them was Titonka. A commonly accepted name for them in this country is american buffalo although the only true buffalos are found in other parts of the world - African buffalos and water buffalos. From now on in this week's column I will refer to the bison by that common name the buffalo.

I have always liked buffalo. They have been a favorite of mine for about as long as I can remember. In fact, I have a buffalo collection. No live buffalo, I'm afraid but plenty of "collectible" buffalo. Figurines is probably the correct term. When we would go on family trips, the kids would look for a buffalo memento for me and those things also made great Father's Day and birthday gifts for me.

So over the years, I have accumulated quite a collection. I even have a few buffalo parts bones, teeth, etc. My son, Seth, even looked into the cost of a buffalo hunt at a ranch awhile back. Never heard the cost but must have been prohibitive because I didn't get that for a gift!

Like I said, I have been collecting buffalo for a long time. My very first in the collection was a toy buffalo. Years ago (readers over fifty will remember I'm sure) there were action figures called Johnny West, Chief Cherokee and Geronimo to name a few. I had them all and a part of that series was a buffalo.

It was a little later in life that my collection really sprouted with those family vacations. They have pretty much ended up all over the desk, shelves and window sills in my office. So when the County Auditor's office put out the call for people to consider sharing their collections for a month in the courthouse lobby display case, I offered my buffalo collection.

Well, my number came up recently and I gathered everything of the collection together for the lobby case. I have all shapes and sizes. Some of them I really wanted and some were generously offered to me when people discovered I liked buffalo.

In case you're wondering, the buffalo was never a plentiful resident around these parts when compared to the other large mammal of the pre-settlement prairie elk. Pioneer reports usually recorded encounters with small groups of them. The larger herds we see in movies were farther west in the short grass prairies west of the Missouri River. To add to the display, I've borrowed a buffalo skull found along the Blackhawk Creek from the Grundy County Heritage Museum collection. I'd invite you to stop by the Grundy County Courthouse lobby sometime during the month of October to see what has to be the only herd of Grundy County buffalo to grace the area for over 150 years.



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