(Buffalo mother and child. Web source: Wiki Commons)
Story. Looking at the stars and moon, I asked my mom a question that has been gnawing at my heart. “Mom, where is dad?” I said. I am a buffalo boy who can transform into a young boy. I have transformed back and forth without any human knowing my true identity. They think that I am an orphan.
“You ask me all the time, child, and I tell you the same thing,” my mother responded. “He’s gone far away.”
“But are you sure? You tell him to come back to you every night in your sleep.” I replied.
My mom looked at me in surprise and sighed. “I guess it is time for you to know. Long ago, your father and I met when the moon was full. It was love at first sight. However, I could only turn human for a week every month. So, after a week, he couldn’t find me and returned to his home in sorrow. We haven’t met each other since because I know I can’t stay with him as a human wife. And it would be too selfish to have him become a buffalo.”
“You mean he’s still alive?!” I exclaimed. My mom nodded her head. I galloped around joyfully.
“I’m going to go find him.” I decided. My mom was worried, but she knew that it would not be dangerous because I play with their children often. She told me that my father is living at the village I usually play at. So, I planned to ask the chief for help tomorrow morning.
The time has arrived. I was going to see my father for the first time! I walked to the chief’s hut and greeted familiar faces cheerfully as I walked by.
“Chief, I need help.” I told him. He was in the middle of breakfast.
He swallowed the food in his mouth and asked, “What do you need help with, young boy?”
I told him of my troubles and asked him to help find my father by assembling the men he had. He was convinced of my story, but he asked, “If you haven’t met your father, how will you know who he is?”
I replied, “I’ll know who my father is.” I couldn’t tell him I was a buffalo. It might sound absurd and he might kill me for meat. Anyway, I had a keen sense of smell.
I smelled a familiar smell every now and then around the village, but I could never follow it. Besides, too many other scents obstructed the familiar smell. Whenever I tried to follow it, it was like it disappeared in thin air. However, with the chief’s help, I can surely pinpoint the familiar scent, the scent of my father.
The chief saw my confidence and had someone gather the men. When all the men were settled, he said, “These are the old married men. Are any of them your father?”
I looked and smelled each person but I didn’t go too close. None of them were my father. I shook my head. The chief told the same person to gather the middle-aged married men. As they walked in, I knew that none of them were my father. I told the chief and the chief had his person get another group of men, the unmarried men.
I watched as they walked in and I caught whiff of the same familiar smell! I kept my eye on that man and walked towards him. Yes! This was my dad! I embraced him and told the chief that he was my father. The chief shouted in joy.
“But I don’t have a son or a wife, Chief,” my father said. I suppose all the men were informed of why they came.
Hearing that sent an imaginary dagger in my heart. “How can Dad say that? I am his son,” I thought. “I am your son,” I told Dad.
“How can you be my son? I’m not married. I’ve never had-” he stopped mid-sentence.
“If the boy says he is your son, then he is your son. Can you not hear the sincerity in his voice?” the chief sternly said.
“You met Mom in the plains by the woods, remember?” I softly said.
Then, my father remembered. He hugged me and asked, “Where is your mom?”
I graciously thanked the chief and led him towards where Mom and I lived. While walking, I held his hand and told him all about Mom and me. Thankfully, today was the second day where Mom was human, so she can talk to him herself. I showed him our humble home and let him in. Right when we walked in, Mom turned around and said Dad’s name. She started tearing up. My dad went to her and held her. “I will never leave you again,” he told Mom. I hugged both of them.
It turns out that Dad has been looking for Mom every time he went out and hunted with the hunting group. He went with them every chance he could in case he could find Mom. That’s why I smelled his scent every now and then. Now, we all are living together in our home, Dad, Mom, and me.
Author's Note. The original story tells of a buffalo boy and his family. The buffalo boy finds his father and takes him back to his mom. After that, they all live together at the father's village. The mom told the dad not to hit her with a fire stick, but one day, the father got mad and hit her with it anyway. So, the mother and the child ran away. Well, the father went out to find them. He saw the son while the buffaloes were dancing. Then, the son knew that in order for his father to get them back, he would have to identify the son among other buffalo. The father had to identify the son a few times, but failed on the last try. As a result, the buffalo trampled the father to death. However, he was revived from a piece of bone and the three, father, mother, and son, went back to the father's village. For my story, I focused in the beginning of the original story. I went into detail about how the child questioned where his father was and how they got back together. Instead of another test of finding the son, I kept it at one test where the son had to find the father. And then, in the end, I wrote about how they lived happily together.
Bibliography. The Piqued Buffalo-Wife from Native American Marriage Tales by Stith Thompson; link to reading online.