Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Buffalo Bill: Never Missed and He Never Will

Montage © Roy R. Behrens 2017
Above Title slide for Iowa's Buffalo Bill: Never Missed and He Never Will, a presentation sponsored by Humanities Iowa. For information on how to schedule this event for Iowa libraries, community centers and other public-accessible venues, as well as how to fund it through an HI grant (surprisingly easy), go to the Humanities Iowa website.


William F. Cody (1846-1917), better known as “Buffalo Bill,” was born near Le Claire, Iowa, in Scott County, just north of Davenport. By the end of his life, he had become what some have called “the most famous American in the world.” 

He had been a Pony Express rider, an Army scout, a buffalo hunter for the railroad, and the founder and central attraction of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which traveled throughout the US and in Europe for thirty years. This talk is an overview of Cody’s life, both tragic and heroic. It was tragic because of the role he played in the near extinction of the American Bison (he himself is said to have killed nearly 3000 buffalo in eight months), and, more deplorable, in the subjugation of Native Americans. 

If his life was heroic, it was because of his later support of the rights of Native Americans, his friendship with many of them (most notably with Sitting Bull), and his link with such colorful characters as Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok. As a Wild West performer, it is thought that Cody probably played to a collective audience of more than 50 million, including at various Iowa towns. This is a face-paced and entertaining 60-minute talk, illustrated by projected vintage photographs, film clips and animated graphics.