So, I’m a little bit wild about buffalo. I just love them. A lot. So of course, I decided to write a picture book about them. I wrote Buffalo Wild! while living in Saskatoon SK way back in 2008. The story was magical and wonderful — a Cree boy who is wild about buffalo, deliberately unleashes a buffalo apocalypse — bringing ALL the buffalo home once again.
But after I sent it out to a few publishers — with no takers — I felt defeated. So I put my story away and got on with life, moving to the USA. Then in 2015, while visiting Banff, AB I noticed a sign that said buffalo were being released back into the wild and that a Buffalo Treaty had been signed. My spirit jumped with excitement. Buffalo returning! — that was what my story was about. I was immediately ignited with passion once again so I took my manuscript out of my drawer and I decided to work on it a bit more. Which led me to hooking up with We Need Diverse Books. It was through WNDB that I received mentorship to edit my story.
However, despite being mentored by the awesome Nikkie Grimes (author of Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice) throughout 2016, my book did not find a publishing home that year. So I kept on editing.
Then a few years later, on May 22, 2018, I had a dream where I was waiting at an adoption centre, watching a group of First Nations people fill out applications for adoption procedures (they all wanted to adopt a certain baby). When a First Nations woman approached me and asked what I do for a living, I told her I was a writer and that I was currently trying to break into children’s literature with a book called Buffalo Wild! I then told her it wasn’t going so well because, well… picture book writing is difficult–much more difficult than it looks. She said she thought that was interesting and then she excused herself to turn in her adoption application.
Later, she returned to show me her new baby that had been awarded to her through the adoption procedure. Next, she did something crazy… she gave me her baby!
I said, “I can’t take your baby!”
She said, “You need this baby.”
And for some strange reason, I didn’t argue. I took the baby and began to walk away, hoping I would make a good parent. That’s when I realized the baby’s name happened to be Buffalo. I had been given a gift of Buffalo!
Nine months later… in Feb. 2019, I sold my manuscript Buffalo Wild! to Annick Press.
My little picture book manuscript Buffalo Wild! was a difficult book to write, mostly because it started out more like a short story with more than one POV and it had to be tightened down to 500 words with one POV. But eventually I got there, and when I did I met a lovely editor from Annick through a conference and she made me an offer. Buffalo Wild! is due out next year, fall 2021 . It is illustrated by Azby Whitecalf.
Why do I love buffalo so very much? Buffalo represents life to me. Indigenous people are spiritually linked to Buffalo. When Buffalo hurt, we hurt. When Buffalo thrive, we thrive. When Buffalo belong, we belong. I am wild about Buffalo!
Meet my friend Leroy Little Bear and learn about the Buffalo Treaty…