At the top of their form here, Scott and Sweet capture the simple majesty of the American bison--young bulls testing themselves in formalized combat; a cow helping her newborn calf to its feet for the first time; herds grazing under the South Dakota sunset or pushing their way through a snowstorm. And while many readers might be familiar with the ""caretaker"" role of the Plains Indians who punished anyone judged ""overeager or too greedy in the hunt"" and with the orgy of destruction that reduced the species from an estimated 60 million to a mere 541 animals, Scott also tells the heartening story of the animals' come-back. Pointing out that individuals, not laws, saved the buffalo, he singles out men like cowboy Pete Dupree whose captive herd, begun with five calves in 1881, was the ancestor of most of today's surviving animals. ""If all the beasts were gone we would suffer from great loneliness of the spirit,"" says a nineteenth-century Duwamish chief in Scott's epilogue. This direct, handsome, and hopeful portrait is, in its way, an antidote to that loneliness, and will return the buffalo to his rightful place on library shelves, where he's been underrepresented for some years.