book, American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, combines these attitudes with an intimate sense of natural history. The result reminds its readers of cultural attitudes they've assumed without question, teaches them new things, makes them laugh, and has an adventure narrative as fast paced as any novel.
Rinella gives us the natural history of the buffalo. He tells again the story of its fundamental cultural significance to Native peoples, but with nuance that might upset some folks comfortable with their platitudes. He gives the history and reasons for the last great slaughter that left only a captive remnant of what had once been our continent's dominant species. He gives the exquisite details of his own hunt for a wild buffalo.
In the 1950s a small herd of plains buffalo were released in Alaska. They soon found their way to isolated valleys hidden in a little-known mountain range. The herd has grown slowly and is again a dominant species in that small place. The state of Alaska awards a few hunting permits a year, all of which come with an enormous number of caveats and restrictions. In 2005 Steven Rinella won a permit, and he was one of four whose hunts were successful.