A Buffalo Common Metaphor

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A Buffalo Common Metaphor
Over the past few decades the High Plains have consistently been losing its population. So, in 1987 Doctors Frank and Deborah Popper introduced the idea of Buffalo Commons. They described this project as “A combination of literary metaphor, public-policy proposal, futurist prediction and ecological restoration project” (The Buffalo Commons: Its Antecedents). The essential focus of this project was to replace the ever decrease population by returning buffalo back to the Plains. This plan was originally met by rejection, however, the idea eventually began to take a hold (The Onset of the Buffalo).

The name “Buffalo Commons” was actually a metaphorical name for this buffalo return plan. Buffalo was used because of the buffalo’s symbol of substance by both Native American’s and early settlers. Likewise, Commons was chosen because of the need to treat land in the same manner as the air and water, commonly rather than individually. As the popularity for the plans increased the metaphor “Buffalo Commons”, began to take the form of a term. This metaphor, now term, is currently being used to describe the various plans that would allow for the creation of alternative futures for various regions (Buffalo Commons as Regional Metaphor).

The region surrounding the Columbia River is one of the metaphors that can be found for the term “Buffalo Commons”. In this region a serious debate is taking place over the removal of some of the dams along the river. By shifting the economic dependency on the river to alternative sources there is a hope that the Native Salmon will be able to re populate and flourish in an area were they had once been plentiful (Ka-bye). The video, “Regions and Economies-Oregon and U.S. Midwest”, focuses on the struggles between Native Americans and farmers who are both fighting for the use of the Umatilla’s water. Throughout the short film you are able to observe the many different elements that must be contended with in...
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