‘The American Buffalo’ Review: Ken Burns’s Western Elegy


A bison in Montana in 2019 Photo: Craig Mellish/PBS
As recounted during Ken Burns ’s two-night, four-hour “The American Buffalo,” an Irish peer named Sir St. George Gore embarked on a hunting trip to the American West in the mid-1850s, bringing along 50 people, six wagons, 21 carts, 112 horses and 50 dogs. He spent about a quarter of a million dollars en route to killing 1,500 elk, 2,000 deer, more than 1,000 antelope, 500 bear and 4,000 bison. He was so “wanton,” we are told, he even offended the frontiersmen who spent their days butchering wildlife. When he attempted to breach the Black Hills of South Dakota, the tribes there told him to go, or fight.


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