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History General


edited by John E. Foster, Dick Harrison & I.S. MacLaren

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Jan 1992
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1992
    List Price

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The heated controversy over proposals to exterminate the herds in Wood Buffalo National Park is a reminder of the significance the buffalo has acquired, standing symbolically at the point of interaction between aboriginal and white cultures and the plains environment. In Buffalo, specialists in the natural and social sciences, the humanities and fine arts examine the involvement of the buffalo in plains ecology and culture from its prehistoric evolution and migration to its present and uncertain future.

The importance of the buffalo in plains Indian culture is explored in essays on the development of the Cultural World Heritage Site at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and in an historical study of the last decade before the extinction of the wild herds. Its imaginative appropriation by white culture is traced through a survey of verbal and pictorial images of the buffalo from the sixteenth century to the present, culminating in a display of full-colour prints of paintings by Clarence Tillenius, the dean of Canadian wildlife painters. Five essays are devoted to issues fueling the current controversy: the history of exploitation and restoration of the wood buffalo, the factor of wolf predation in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the scientific case for extermination of diseased herds, the importance of aboriginal involvement in decisions affecting the buffalo, and the findings of medical science regarding the danger of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis to human beings. Finally, getting right down to earth, the volume concludes with a report on rigorous research into the thermal properties of buffalo chips as fuel.

Buffalo is the first in a new multi-disciplinary series of books under the general editorship of John Foster and Dick Harrison. The Alberta Nature and Culture Series offers informed commentary on Alberta and its people, past and present, and on related national and international issues.

About the authors

John E. Foster's profile page

Dick Harrison's profile page

I.S. MacLaren teaches at the University of Alberta in the Department of History and Classics and the Department of English and Film Studies. Mapper of Mountains: M.P. Bridgland in the Canadian Rockies, 1902–1930 (2005) is his biography of the Dominion Land Surveyor whose phototopographic work in Jasper in 1915 created the first reliable maps of the area and made possible, eight decades later, the Rocky Mountain Repeat Photography Project.

I.S. MacLaren's profile page


  • Unknown, Alberta Book Awards - Alberta Book of the Year

Other titles by John E. Foster

Other titles by Dick Harrison

Other titles by I.S. MacLaren