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Reader Resources for The Legend of the Buffalo Stone


Teachers' Guide

The Legend of the Buffalo Stone is appropriate for use in classrooms and ideally suited to Alberta's social studies curriculum for Grades 4 and 5. To download a detailed Teachers' Guide, click on the "Download as PDF" link in the top right-hand corner of this page.


Interview with Dawn Sprung

1. The Legend of the Buffalo Stone tells the story of the Blackfoot people’s relationship with the buffalo. Can you tell us about the impetus for this project? What drew you to the story?

While researching Alberta history for my first book, C Is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet, I was impassioned by the history of the Blackfoot people and how they hunted and survived from the buffalo before horses or guns. I came upon the legend of the Buffalo Stone and thought of retelling this legend and incorporating Blackfoot history to ultimately inspire and teach our children about the amazing Blackfoot people.

2. You have permission to tell this story and have been advised by a First Nations scholar and members of the Blackfoot nation. What was it like working with them to tell this story?

I worked with Linda Many Guns, a professor in Native Studies at the University of Lethbridge. She is an extraordinary and wise woman, who told me about the Blackfoot people in such a way that cannot be found in history books. She continues to advise me in my writing and presentations, and I could never grasp or know the way of the Blackfoot without her wisdom and knowledge.

3. What was the research process like for this book? Were there any unique challenges in writing it?

I did research in libraries, the Glenbow Museum, and the Internet, but truly the lifeblood of this story came from Linda Many Guns, and what she taught me is not written down anywhere.

4. You worked on this project with Blackfoot illustrator Charles Bullshields. How did you two find each other? What was it like to collaborate?

Charles is a very gifted artist and did a wonderful job illustrating the story.
5. Can you tell us more about the iniskim?

Iniskim is the Blackfoot word for the ammonite fossil—the remnant of a squid-like sea creature that lived seventy million years ago. It can be found in many parts of the world, but only Alberta has colourful ammonites, possibly thanks to the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains. Scientifically and symbolically, the ammonite fossil, or iniskim, means different things to different people. Even the term iniskim means different things to different First Nations. The specific meaning it has to the Blackfoot is unique to Blackfoot; however, other First Nations share the Blackfoot’s belief that the iniskim brings good fortune.

6. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing for children?

For me, there is no negative aspect to writing for children. As a mother of four children, I am very involved at their school. and I am fortunate that I can obtain children's feedback on my writing and grasp what interests and inspires them.

7. What are you working on now? What’s your next project?

I am looking at other Blackfoot legends and may produce another children’s story about one.

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