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BUFFALO BIRD GIRL by S.D. Nelson Kirkus Star


A Hidatsa Story

retold by S.D. Nelson, illustrated by S.D. Nelson

Age Range: 7 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4197-0355-3
Publisher: Abrams

A noted Native American artist interprets the early life of Buffalo Bird Woman, Waheenee-wea, one of the last of the Hidatsa to live according to old traditions.

Using material from his subject’s own reminiscences, published by an anthropologist in the early 20th century, Lakota painter and biographer Nelson describes Buffalo Bird’s village childhood. Each section begins with a quote from her own story. Born around 1840, “three years after the smallpox winter,” the girl grew up in Like-a-Fishhook Village high over the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. There, for nine months of each year, she lived with her family in an earth-mound lodge. She describes helping her aunts and grandmother with traditional household and garden tasks, visiting a trading center, playing with other children and her dog, and a Lakota attack. During winter’s worst weather, villagers retreated to temporary lodges in the woodlands, where they ate stored food. The extraordinary illustration of this handsome volume begins with the endpaper maps and features acrylic paintings of the Hidatsa world reminiscent of traditional Plains Indian art. Pencil drawings and relevant, carefully labeled photographs round out the exquisite design. All the artwork both supports and adds to the text. An extensive author’s note and timeline supplement this beautiful tribute.

Pair with Nelson’s Gift Horse (1999) for a broad vision of Plains Indian childhood. (notes, bibliography, index) (Informational picture book. 7-12)