Week 15: Buffalo Bill
Read K – 5: Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr (read also “Author’s Note” on the last page)
- What famous man rode for the Pony express when he was young? (Buffalo Bill)
- Why was Bill called “Buffalo Bill”? (while he worked on the railroad, he supplied buffalo meat to workers)
- Was Buffalo Bill truthful? (no)
- Was Buffalo Bill friends with Indians? (yes)
- The Pony Express existed in the early 1800’s. What did it deliver? (mail)
- Why did mail stop being delivered by the Pony express? (telegraph lines & railroad)
- Was being a Pony Express rider dangerous? (Yes)
- Why? (bandits, Indians, weather, wild animals)
Questions for Grades 6 – 8:
- About how many buffalo lived in the Great Plains in the 1850’s? (millions)
- How many buffalo were left by the late 1800’s? (just over 500)
- Why were so many killed? (to provide meat for railroad workers, for sport)
- How did Buffalo Bill become famous? (writer began writing cheap novels about him, embellishing the facts to make him look like a folk hero; Buffalo Bill began acting in plays portraying himself.)
- What bad habit did Bill develop while performing his shows? (drinking)
- Describe Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show? (half history lesson, half circus, riders leaped from one horse to another, fake Indian attacks, shooting matches, buffalo hunt, reenactment of Custer’s Last Stand)
- What famous Native American chief became part of his show? (Sitting Bull)
- How did most white Americans view Native Americans before the Wild West show? (as savages)
- How did many Americans view Native Americans after seeing the Wild West show? (people with strong and proud identity who had been driven from their homeland)
- How did the Native Americans who performed in his shows view Buffalo Bill? (as a friend)
- According to Bill, why did Native Americans perform acts of violence? (broken promises by the government; “white man does not keep his word”)
Activities: K – 2: Pony express coloring page: http://nebraskahistory.org/oversite/kidstuff/ponyexpress.htm
3 – 5: Recreate your own “Wanted” poster for Pony Express riders similar to this one on this site: http://www2.lhric.org/pocantico/ponyexpress/ponyexpress.htm
Then answer the following questions:
- Why do you think the company wanted young, skinny fellows?
- Why do you think the company wanted orphans?
6 – 8:Answer 3 of the following in paragraph form (Buffalo Bill worksheet see attached): Buffalo Bill Worksheet
- Compare and contrast Buffalo Bill’s life with that of a modern famous entertainer.
- Do you think Native Americans today would have appreciated Buffalo Bill’s shows or found them to be insulting? Why or why not?
- Through Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, many whites became aware of how unfair they had been to Native Americans by moving on to their lands. If Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show had been performed 100 years earlier, do you think white settlers would have been reluctant to settle on Native American land? Why or why not?
- If you had the opportunity to see a show like Buffalo Bill’s would you want to go? Why or why not?
- Of all of Buffalo Bill’s accomplishments, what do find most interesting? Why?
Copyright April 22nd, 2015 by Gwen Fredette