By Danielle Kirkpatrick
The American bison have been making a comeback since the near extinction in the early 1900s, with some currently roaming freely in locations across the Texas Panhandle, such as Caprock Canyon.
Panhandle PBS has been working on local content related to the documentary, produced by Ken Burns, titled “The American Buffalo,” which is set to air in a two-part documentary from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17 on the Panhandle PBS station.
“We are one of 10 stations in the country that received a grant to produce local content related to American Buffalo,” Karen Welch, senior content producer, said.
“What we are doing as a station is producing pieces with Native American voices in them, as well as covering the Goodnight herd of Buffalo, which is the Texas official State herd.” There were as many as 30 million bison in the 1800s, and they roamed across the country in large herds. “Today, there are approximately 350,000 Buffalo in the U.S., most of them descendants of the 77 animals from the five founding herds at the start of the 20th century, and their numbers are increasing,” said Welch.
The Native Americans and the bison coexisted for thousands of years, depending on each other for survival.
“They are currently developing lesson plans around this series about the American Buffalo through PBS learning media and working on lesson plans for the classroom to integrate this series into future classrooms. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent or a professor, there’s going to be a lot of good information,” Cullen Lutz, community outreach coordinator, said.
“The American Buffalo documentary is a historical tale of our national mammal, and it’s really history across our continent through a Native American lens.
“We are just so thrilled to be a part of Amarillo College and this partnership only helps the station,” Lutz said. “We hope this station only helps the college in providing educational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the entire Texas Panhandle region.”
There will be a screening of American Buffalo for AC students September 28th in the Panhandle PBS studio on the Washington Street campus. There will be a discussion panel following the screening that will include at least one descendent of Quanah Parker, the last Comanche chief in our area. Lunch will be provided, and doors open at 11:45 a.m., and the screening begins at noon