Once upon a time, the buffalo roamed the plains and their importance to the Plains Indians made them Monarchs of the Plains. The Buffalo Hunt is a celebration of the Buffalo and the culture, history, and art where they once roamed. Today, you can find life-size fiberglass buffalo around Great Falls. The Buffalo Hunt is an Art & Adventure celebration. We included details about each buffalo and the artist’s take on their project. Let the Hunt begin!

Rainbuffalo

Rainboffalow 

Milwaukee Station | 1 River Dr

The “Rainboffalo” combines the graceful flowing freedom of a Rainbow Trout with the dignity and scale of the buffalo. It symbolizes Chris Miller’s long-time love of the water and a respect for the freedom that wild animals enjoy. Working wood, foam, plaster, clay, fiberglass, and metal, the Buffalo was transformed into a buffalo-trout, covered with nearly 1,600 aluminum scales.

Buffalo Ponies

Johnson Building | 417 Central Ave

When the horse was introduced to the Plains Indians, their way of life changed completely. From that point forward, their lives revolved around their horses for transportation, hunting, and battle. The horse provided greater mobility and therefore dramatically enhanced and expanded the Plains’ Indians’ ability to hunt, especially buffalo. The horse is to the Plains culture what the automobile is to our present culture. Art completed by H. Steven Oiestad.

The Four Seasons

Great Falls International Airport | 1920 Airport Ct

The immense, empty 3-D “canvas” of the bull buffalo offered Janet McGahan a built-in landscape from which “The Four Seasons” emerged naturally over the four quarters of the buffalo – mountainous shoulders and back; rolling plains and valleys of its lower torso. Within winter, spring, summer, and fall, Janet McGahan painted buffalo plowing through a blizzard, nursing newborn calves, roaming, grazing, and sparring. The buffalo seemed to find their place and Janet recorded them there.

The Seven Brothers

Great Falls Chamber of Commerce | 100 1st Ave N

Karen Bonnie painted her buffalo to represent the Cheyenne myth, “The Seven Brothers,” or “Quill Woman,” which is a story about how seven brothers rescued their sister from the buffalo nation that wanted to take her for their own because of the beauty of her quillwork. The eight climbed to the heavens and became the Big Dipper, as shown on the buffalo’s face. Karen Bonnie sees horses as heroic, powerful, fun-loving and affectionate beings, and she tries to express this to their viewer in her work.

Faces of the West 

KOA Campground | 1500 51st St S

Susan Blackwood decided to represent the New West as well as the Old West in the faces she painted on each side. The buffalo’s left side represents the faces of the Old West, the heroes and common folk typical of the old romantic West when the buffalo ran in huge herds. The ride side represents the many faces of the present West. The stars that shine along the top of the buffalos and tumble down among the 34 faces on both sides remind all who see this buffalo that all of us who have lived and are living here are the true “stars of the West.”

Sacajawea – Montana to the Pacific

Great Falls High Fieldhouse | 1900 2nd Ave S

The theme of this buffalo is Sacajawea as one with the buffalo. The female figure with outstretched arms appears to lift the buffalo into flight, as both seem embodied together. The illusion of direction and movement is emphasized with a cupped wing bird at the top section of the buffalo. The salmon amplifies the determination of the journey and the connection toward the Northwest. Amy Burnett was the artist for this buffalo.

Buffalo Nights

Great Falls Clinic Lobby | 3000 15th Ave S

Thomas English’s intent is to portray the hast and haunting mountain and prairie nights in which the buffalo once lived. On one side is the prairie night with distant hills, rolling ridges topped by moonlight, accentuated by a vast dark sky filled with flowing stars and a majestic moon. The opposite side depicts the great mountains of the West, glowing northern lights pulsating through the sky reflecting in the serene river below. Deep darks on the bottom and top of the buffalo serve to accent the lights of the night.

Shape Of Things To Come II 

Best Western Plus Heritage Inn | 1700 Fox Farm Rd

The name “Shape of Things to Come II” was intended as a play on worlds. The “shape” is the buffalo itself. The imagery on the buffalo was meant to suggest a change or shift in the way of the West. There is a large vignette of Native Americans adjacent to a slightly smaller one of two trapper/mountain men. The remainder of the scenes suggest more in the way of today’s cowboys and the “modern” West. The images are based on Graham Flatt’s paintings and were chosen as much for their representational value as for the way the composition accommodated the form of the buffalo. Graham Flatt included a small maple leaf on the inside of the left thigh in acknowledgment of his country.

Saving the Buffalo

US Bank | 1700 10th Ave S

The buffalo nickel is now a rare and valuable coin, just as the buffalo was once a rare and almost extinct animal. Now the buffalo has been saved? The “buffalo bank” with buffalo and Indian head nickels, complete with a coin being deposited in the slot at the top, is symbolic of “saving the buffalo.” Art work completed by Howard Friedland.

Buffalo Spring Tales

Prairie Mountain Bank Lobby | 1019 7th St S

The design for Mimi Grant and Don Grant’s buffalo was inspired by the new beginnings that appear on the prairie every spring. The main subjects are the young offspring of animals and birds that inhabit the land of the buffalo. Some of Nature’s springs plants and grasses tie the various animals together. As witnessed by the buffalo, each spring gave birth to new life and takes of these new beginnings.

Thunder On The Roof

Private Residence | 5001 27 St SW

With this piece, Joe Halko portrayed his fascination for the drama of this wonderful place where the prairies meet the mountains. Storm clouds build up quickly on the prairie along the Rocky Mountain Front. The brilliant colors of the setting sun reflect on the golden prairie. Our big sky resonates with the sound of thundering herds of buffalo and antelope. Contrasting with the dark-matted hide and massive size of the agile bison is the beautiful coloration and delicate build of the sure-footed antelope.

Dance By The Light Of The Moon

Great Falls College MSU | 2100 16th Ave S

The song “Buffalo Gals” inspired this embellished bison as a salute of these daring women. During a time when women weren’t supposed to be in the limelight, they were as tough as men and bold enough to perform for an audience. Diane Hausmann painted the different events at rodeos and Wild West shows of the early 1900s on a starry night sky background. The leader ornamentation across the chest displays the Grizzly Bear and Bitterroot flower of Montana.

Morning Star Buffalo

First Interstate Bank | 2601 10th Ave S

The idea for this buffalo came to Pam Houston as she was brainstorming in her studio. She started with a list relating to the buffalo as a symbol. Pam wanted something spiritual, and she wanted to convey something meaningful, happy, and uplifting. Women had to be included along with lots of color. The Morning Star quilt fit all her needs. This quilt replaced the buffalo hide as an important gift during the traditional “Give Away” in the Plains Indian culture. This was Pam’s change to be part of a “Give Away.” She wanted to honor the Plains Indian women with her Morning Star Buffalo.

America’s Great Plains

DA Davidson Company | 2nd St & Central

Barbara Ivey wanted to include Native American symbols in her theme of America’s Great Plains. These symbols include the rain clouds, lightning and rain, and the sun above the mountains and canyon; animals running acorss the plains; and the hands of the Native Americans on one side and the heart line flowing into the heart of the plains with its mountains, canyons, and tracks of animals running in wide open places on the other.

Trails Plowed Under

CM Russell Museum | 400 13th St N

In his book, Trails Plowed Under – Stories of the Old West, Charles M. Russell’s written descriptions are as vivid as his paintings. In illustrating and preserving the West, which was quickly disappearing, Russell wrote about people and happenings that were real, but he further entertains us by exaggeration and humor. Jan Johansen chose a contemporary style to emphasize that she was interpreting these stories from today’s perspective.

Pishkun 

CM Russell Museum | 400 13th St N

The buffalo or bison is Tim Joyner’s favorite animal and they have always intrigued him. The image of a Pishkun or “buffalo jump” has been in his mind for years. Tim wanted to sculpt buffalo tumbling down a cliff. The buffalo grow from a petroglyph on the opposite side, which depicts a painting Charles M. Russell did of a Native American carving a petroglyph. As the buffalo grow from the painting, they change from two-dimensional to three-dimensional and become increasingly more detailed. The larger buffalo is modeled to look like the Halko original.

Tatanka

Private Residence | 4 Volk Terrace

The Native Americans of the Great Plains depended on the buffalo for both their spiritual and physical lives. The buffalo or American bison was seen as a symbol of the Great Spirit known as “Tatankia,” great provider and protector of the people. The great herds were the source for food, clothing, and utensils necessary for their very existence. Robert Kercher portrayed his buffalo as an all-powerful presence when you first encounter him, then the mystery begins when this powerful being evolves into the great herds of the plains. With the invasion of the white man, the great herds were destroyed and along with them, the Native America culture. This is represented by skulls left in the prairie in the wake of passing herds.

Inipikuni

South of Cascade | Near Hardy Creek Exit

The geometrics in Valentina La Pier’s design are pristine patterns coming to her pure from the Creator, relating to the energy of the Bison and its role in Blackfeet life. The patterns touch and connect with tradition and culture. The lifeline is a traditional Blackfeet image and the Bison is a lifeline of the Blackfeet people with deep religious implications in her culture. The mask is an image that translates to traditional quillwork and beadwork. These patterns represent a universal fingerprint that translates across all boundaries. They enhance texture, and focus and ground the work in contemporary culture.

Bountiful Visions 

Benefis North Tower | 1101 26th St S

The daily experiences and blessing living in Montana where Dave Maloney has been surrounded by God’s remarkable gift of nature were the inspiration for his concept. He reflected on what the native people and members of the Lewis and Clark expedition would have visually experienced in this region without highways, buildings, powerlines, and structures. Dave wanted to create the same perception with a panoramic view of the many vistas and landmarks we enjoy in the vicinity of Great Falls.

Prickly Pear & Buffalo hair

Chili’s | 1420 Market Place Dr

Loosely based on the landscape of the northern plains, this design focuses on prickly pear cactus and the trouble it caused the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as homesteaders traversing the arid terrain. The pears are a play on imagery, and the cactus likely got its name from its similarity in shape to the pear. This buffalo is actually two bison in one; many designs of the daylight image glow in the dark so you won’t run into it when it crosses the road at night!

Mighty Mo

Sletten Cancer Institute | 1117 29th St S

This buffalo has brought back wonderful childhood memories of growing up in Fort Benton, Montana, where Julie Pederson-Atkins was able to hike along the riverbanks hunting for arrowheads and interesting little creatures, exploring caves, and carving pictures with sticks into the soft decaying bark of ancient trees. Her dad, Oscar “Pete” Pederson, taught her to respect and admire nature. The Eye of the Needle, the Great White Cliffs, and the Hole in the Wall are just a few of Nature’s paintings on the Missouri that Julie will keep with her forever.

Montana Ski Buff

Showdown Ski Area | 2850 US Highway 89 S

“Montana Ski Buff” celebrates the fun-filled season of crystal white snow and glorious sunshine that greets Montana outdoor enthusiasts heading for mountains full of winter enjoyment. Outfitted in his own Nordic hat, “Bulle” glasses, and B2 skis, “Cool” buffalo is ready to hit the slopes and frolic in the white powdery fun. Art completed by Sue Toppen, who was assisted by her friend Gail Daehlin.

The Bison Branch 

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center | 4201 Giant Springs Rd

“The Bison Branch” was inspired by Ron Ukrainetz’s love of history. A “pishkun” or “buffalo jump” exists just outside of Great Falls. When he was younger, he clambered all over that place, finding bones, arrowheads, and more than a few live snakes. Explorations like there always lead to more questions. It is ironic that Montana is one of the last strongholds for bison’s eventual recovery from extinction. The evolution of the animal we have come to call “buffalo” is depicted in this “bison branch” of that family tree.

Keepers Of An Ancient Covenant

Great Falls Tribune Outdoors | 205 River Dr S

Blackfeet singer-songwriter Jack Gladstone wrote and recorded a profound tribute to the buffalo. The song, “Faces the Blizzard,” speaks of all buffalo as the center of a perfectly balanced natural order – “heart of the circle matured formed – a covenant born.” But the conquerors came like a storm of arrogance and Faces the Blizzard had to face the storm. He survived and though the covenant it tattered and torn, he is still the center of the circle. The faces depict notable “keepers of the covenant:” Left: Willie Running Crane, Chief Earl Old Person, Carol Murray, Leonard Mountain Chief, Dutch Lunak and Valley Reed; Right: Jim Spotted Eagle, Jack Gladstone, Joe Bear, Steve Reevis, and Rose Ann Abrahamson.