Now That the Buffalo's Gone

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"Now That the Buffalo's Gone"
Song by Buffy Sainte-Marie
from the album It's My Way!
Released 1964
Genre Folk
Length 2:46
Label Vanguard
Songwriter(s) Buffy Sainte-Marie
Producer(s) Maynard Solomon

"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 Sainte-Marie. The song's title refers to the near-extinction of the American bison and serves as a metaphor for the cultural genocide inflicted by Europeans.[1] A classic folk protest song,[2] "Now That the Buffalo's Gone" has a simple arrangement with guitar and vocals by Sainte-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.[3]

As a contemporary example, Sainte-Marie mentions how the Treaty of Canandaigua was broken through the building of the Kinzua Dam. She refers to the dam again in her 1966 song "My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying." While her original lyrics claimed that George Washington signed the treaty, it was actually his agent, Timothy Pickering who signed.[4][5] Sainte-Marie later changed the lyrics to refer to a "treaty forever your senators sign."[6] The song describes ongoing governmental attempts to wrest land from the Cheyenne, Iroquois and Seneca.[7] Sainte-Marie recorded the song again for her 1968 album I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again, updating the lyrics from "that of the Seneca and the Cheyenne" to "that of the Chippewa and the Cheyenne" and again for the 1996 album Up Where We Belong with the lyrics "the government now wants the Navajo land, that of the Inuit and the Cheyenne." The 1996 version removed any mention of the Kinzua Dam,[4] a change that was explained by Sainte-Marie on her website "This song was on my first album and I'd have thought it would be obsolete by now. But governments are still breaking promises and stealing indigenous lands, and I still believe that informed people can help make things better."[8]

Sainte-Marie allowed historian Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. to use the song's title for his 1984 book of the same name.[9]


  1. ^ "An Hour of Music and Conversation with Legendary Native American Singer-Songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie". Democracy Now!. October 12, 2009. 
  2. ^ Kort, Michele (2003). Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-312-30318-1. 
  3. ^ Marcus, Richard (September 16, 2007). "Music Review: Buffy Sainte-Marie - Buffy Sainte-Marie". Blogcritics Music. 
  4. ^ a b Solomon, David. "Bury My Heart at Kinzua Dam". Florida State University. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Bilharz, Joy A. (2002). The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam: Forced Relocation Through Two Generations. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8032-6203-4. 
  6. ^ "Now That The Buffalo's Gone lyrics". Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  7. ^ See Peter, Greenwood (1971). The Buffy Sainte-Marie Songbook. New York: Grosset and Dunlap. ISBN 978-0-448-02039-6.  and "Now That The Buffalo's Gone lyrics". Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Native North American Child: Now That The Buffalo's Gone". Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Josephy, Jr., Alvin M. (1984). Now That the Buffalo's Gone: A Study of Today's American Indians (University of Oklahoma press paperback edition. ed.). Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press. p. xii. ISBN 978-0-8061-1915-1. 

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