The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo is a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award

My latest literary child, The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2014 Minnesota Book Award in the category of Memoir and Creative non-fiction. This is always an honor, because it means your home folks appreciate your work.

I’m really warming to this book. As with every book, when it first came out I had no idea if it had the capacity to speak to readers. But something about this book is receiving a very different response from anything else I’ve ever written. There is something close to gratitude in the responses I have been getting. It’s hard to explain, but is very humbling.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the issue. What is it in this book that is eliciting such a unique response? You can write me directly, or leave comments here. I’m going to try to blog a bit more from now on, so keep your eyes open for updates. And if you haven’t read The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo, please do so. I think it has something important to offer.

23 comments

  1. Kerry says:

    this book is a song of healing on many levels – it is very gentle – doesn’t dismiss the dark, but picks up the pieces and sings over them to bring wholeness again – it isboth magical and real – but mostly, it sings quietly of good among us

  2. Linda Daniels says:

    Kent:
    I love your words and meanings of each scene in your newest book. The Native American’s have had such a sad and horrifying history, and your subject of the Asylum and schools have brought this to light once and for all!
    When a friend gave me your first book in the series, I really got interested in your other books too. I have read many, and look for more. Your books are so spiritual and inspiring. I advise my friends to read them too.
    I consider you as one of the Babyboomer philosopher/historians, and always look forward to your emails, and I will look out for your blog.
    Thanks for your help in educating us in how Europeans and white Americans have abused and ignored the Native Americans.
    I have hopes you will visit the Chicago area, so I can meet you & listen to you give a talk. Perhaps that will happen. I also would like to know when your movie will be released; I have been looking for information about that also.
    Best wishes for your winning the book award. It is well deserved!
    Sincerely, Linda

  3. Sylvia Galbrecht says:

    I have read all three books that you wrote about Dan and his story. Every book was hard to put down. The Girl Who sang to the Buffalo was so emotional, it was sad and uplifting at the same time. It was so real. The ending made me want more, Is there another one to come?
    Thank you for your wonderful books.

  4. Thelma Chapman says:

    Kia ora. Greestings from New Zealand. Currently Katherine & Daniel Twiss, Richard’s wife and son, are staying with us. Daniel has been with us for 2 months & had your trilogy with him which I read in 3 days as I couldn’t put them down. (Our family & the Twiss family have enjoyed a very close bond for a number of years). My husband, Sam is Maori, I am Irish & the trilogy resonated with much of our history too, on many levels, Maori & Celtic. Similar kinds of stories that reflect indigenous peoples all over the world. People that we have had the privilege to sit with, cry with, laugh with as stories have been shared. Our friends from the Makah nation, First Nations Canada! Australian Aborigine, Hawaiian, Irish …..so many stories. In ‘The Girl who sang to the Buffalo’ I could hear echoes of my father-in-law, see myself as I sat listening to his wisdom and watching his ways…those the old people taught him…understanding through Dan’s eyes some of the ways & values Creator God instilled in him that were often at odds with the modern world. The part where the little girl was singing in the midst of the buffalo brought me to tears as it was so real & familiar in a strange sort of way…thank you for walking alongside, feeling the pain and honestly sharing that so respectfully & honestly. I had a wonderful Maori woman elder say to me that I needed to stand alongside & with them & to be able to speak into the non-Maori world & say things that they never can….a position of great trust & responsibility. You do this, you also honestly share your own struggles in the journey, thank you so much….May our Creator God continue to bring to life the words that you write, the real & raw emotions you so honestly share and continue to surround you with wisdom. Ma Te Atua, Te Kaihanga o nga mea katoa, koe e manaaki. May The Lord, the Creator of all things, bless you. Thelma Chapman

  5. Anna Kraakman says:

    Dear Kent,

    I have read your book, The Girl who sang to the Buffalo and I love it.
    I also read your books, The Wolf at Twilight and Wolf nor Dog and I hope there will come out a movie about your wonderful books!!!

    Sincerely Yours,

    Anna Kraakman
    The Netherlands

  6. John F Reed says:

    Hallo Kent & Friends!
    Your book is an Onward & Upward utterly profound journey of your other two behind it!
    It carries us deeper & deeper into a magical world some of us Know is coming back!
    It is aspects of community, awareness of the sacred, an allurement to deeper respect!
    It is worrisome, reassuring, thoughtful, sad, joyful, and so much more, depending on
    our own vision of reality. And I have not even read it yet! I got it and loaned it to
    to very different kinds of friends who BOTH gave RAVE reviews after we all read your other
    two amazing books! Thank You So Very Very Much!!!

    It is 2014 and there’s a piece to life’s puzzle the experts have overlooked:
    In the continuum of Time Space and Matter, we have compressed Space into Matter.
    Most of us know all matter is mostly space, the experts say.
    So what is that 3rd aspect of life? It is something the Natives had, it is something
    about respect, about our sacred earth, about the awareness of spirit that goes everywhere. Everywhere. That means we carry it, inside, like they did, and we let go, until NOW!

    Physics, my background, has entered Quantum awareness, where the observer is part of the equation, we change what we see. We are what we see. Seeing into that world, Kent, is a gift to Earth far greater than Earth has ever seen, for most of us; not all. Some have moved closer, many are teachers of the natural world, and self awareness is part of that journey. We are exotic animals, and the Butterfly is being born, thanks to All of Us!
    And such profound THANKS to Kent Nerburn for your sharing your life with ours!
    inLove!*john-in-Seattle

  7. Marion Johnson says:

    Will athis book be available in audio? I have low vision and can no longer enjoy reading a book page by page. I am pleased I could read all the pvious books I have purchased written by Kent Nerburn. “Make me an Instrument….” is my favorite and has been a wonderful gift to give to family and friends.
    M Johnson (88 yr
    Maple Grove MN

  8. Onatah says:

    You’ve brought the world of the Native Americans in to the lives of non Native Americans in a warm, humorous and yet and educational way. I am reading your latest book in the trilogy. I don’t want it to end, because I like how you write. My daughter has finished the trilogy already and we discuss them often. I feel like I know all the people in the books. I am half Cherokee and appreciate your respect for the Native Americans and for sharing your work with all people Native or non Native alike.
    Wado
    Jon (Onatah)

  9. Emily Mattison says:

    Greetings and congratulations!
    At Christmas I ordered the entire set, signed, of the Wolf nor Dog series because having read them all in a blitzkrieg moment of reading (viva la Kindle, instant download and no reason to sleep!) I knew the rest of my family, and especially my Dad, would enjoy them as much as I did. I especially wanted the signed editions, because, as I said in the order dialog, it connected us all a wee bit more. Today, just as I was reading the email about the nomination of “The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo” and rushing to tell my Dad about it, I walked in the room just as the caretaker was reading the last line of the “Girl Who Sang…” aloud to him. There were goose bumps all ’round and we all hooped and hollered hurray!
    All the books have been elevated to the highest level in our home. We love them, the writing, the subject matter, the authenticity and honesty throughout. They have all enriched our lives immeasurably and we are grateful to you, Kent, and to “Dan,” “Grover,” and “Jumbo” et al who have told it like it is and was…..for making the effort and overcoming the discomfort of doing what it took to tell and write a very tough piece truth.
    I am furthermore proud of Minnesota for the nomination – for recognizing one of its own and for allowing a topic that could easily still, for some, be too uncomfortable to let see the light of day.
    We send our best wishes and hopes for the top award it deserves.
    Affectionately,
    Emily Mattison
    Mark, Al, Sherrie and Cheryl

  10. terry mase says:

    Is the book widely available, e.g. in Boston?

  11. Andra Van Dyne says:

    This was such a powerful book and series, it filled me with such love. Thank you, it was an amazing journey. Nerburn, you are a blessed man.

  12. Marsha says:

    Great book. I totally fell in love with the characters and felt pain that our worldview (white folk’s culture) isn’t big enough to truly value diversity in human life. We are poorer for it.

    I have read all three of the books in the series now, and I find myself confused by one thing. Your work seems to protest stereotyping Indigenous people, but your stories surely depict a magical Indian spirituality. I’m not sure how to think about this; it’s a conundrum to me. Any thoughts, Mr. Nerburn?

    Thanks so much.

  13. Chris Magnuson says:

    Congrats Kent! Looking forward to downloading your new book on my Nook 🙂

  14. Marsha Cormier says:

    This morning as I read, I began to weep with gratitude and grief. I have read just to the middle of the book (completed “Kicked out of the Creator’s Living Room). I bought the book on a “whim” — not really understanding why I was buying it. I usually get books through my local library. Your writing is clear, unsentimental and bearing some truth that speaks to a need in my life right now. Whatever that need is this winter, I have no words for it yet. But the meaning that has vanished with more than a few deaths last year seems awakened as I read your story.

  15. Lisa Kavanagh says:

    Hi there Ive just finished your book I had it shipped here as I live in Ireland Amazon is great! I was gripped from start to finish,I cried for yellow bird the asylum sounds harrowing I had a picture of her in my mind. It was so sad.I was captured by the story and how Dan and little Zi had their own journey.I feared for Zi lost in the woods and yet the buffalo was there protecting her. It must have been a humbling experience for you.
    For me this book gave me a sense that the great spirit is here protecting us and guiding us. I respect and am drawn to the native american way of living I dont know why its always been there.I suppose its easy to absorb and it sits well with me. In Ireland growing up nuns and priests terrified me with their stories we all can relate the the terror we were subject to every Sunday in mass.!!
    Dan is a powerful wise man is he still living?
    many thanks
    lisa .

  16. monica says:

    This book is fantastic on many levels. It touches the human need for wanting more in life by reminding us of the greatness around us and the simple yet grand world that surrounds us. I love the way the Indians speak of the old ways and our purpose and the gifts we are all given and how that is developed and taught. I love the mystery to the story as well. It constantly unfolds yet has an underlying message that keeps playing out along the way. Fabulous. Heartwarming. Heartbreaking. Wonderful.

  17. Monte Swenson says:

    I read The Girl Who sang To the Buffalo last week in about a 26 hour period. I was engaged and swear I was there with you.
    I purchased the two first parts of the trilogy, and today finished Neither Wolf Nor Dog, and am now as I write, launched into The Wolf at Twilight. I have also waded right into Chief Joseph in my spare moments.
    I grew up and have spent most of my life in Eastern Washington. I have read Hyhemyhost Storm’s 3 books. I have consumed 4 other books regarding the traditional historical accounts of The flight of the Nez Perce from the wasichu point. I have been in the presence of both Old Joseph and Young Joseph and their followers at their grave sites. As I was standing at Young Joseph’s headstone in Nespelem, WA, on the rez, I could sense souls on wings of eagles ……….I have not been to Bear Paw Mountains yet, nor have I visited Wounded Knee. Thank you for telling Dan’s stories. Thank you for bringing to into my heart the essence of the pipe. Makes the cross pale by comparison …………
    During my visit to The Bighorn Battle site, I found myself all alone at the Reno site. No other visible living souls there. Me, the wind, and the markers, and cries, and noise, and mayhem all around me. Your visit with Dan to the Wounded Knee site stirred this memory right back into flame from the embers of my mind.
    Thank you. I love that little girl, and I am sure when I visit Yellowstone again, there will be…. at the appropriate moment, a song coming from the midst of a herd of buffalo because you painted it to be so in my heart.

  18. Michael Hatley says:

    As a Vietnam era veteran who retreated into alcoholism. Because I could not “fit” into normal society, I turned to what helped me cope. I was eventually forced into recovery and I have now been painfully trudging on a spiritual journey for over 20 years. Many times I have felt lost and felt abandoned by my Creator. After reading the books, Neither Wolf nor Dog, The Wolf at Twilight and now The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo, I have often had the same thoughts as to why the Creator abandoned these spiritual people who relied on Him, prayed to Him and thanked Him for their very survival. The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo was key in helping me answer some major questions about my own life. I have been lost, caught between two worlds. One is a world of indoctrination and threats, where I was told what I had to believe and punished when I didn’t conform, and the other a world I am now trying to grow up in at 60 years of age. The book The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo has answered questions about what happened to me, where I am at and what I truly want out of my life. The books have helped me separate the religious indoctrination of my upbringing to the reality of the Creator and an awakening to the spiritual realm and the possibilities of things way out of my league. As a child I was different. I know if I were growing up today, they would have me doped up too.
    As a white man, I feel that what we have done (and still do) to the Native American is reprehensible, and I have no doubt that racism still exists. I can now understand the mistrust that non-whites have for whites. Hell, I don’t trust them either. Our government is a prime example of white power and destruction of anything good. Most of us don’t see that we are the problem, that good doesn’t come wrapped only in white and evil always in black. I also believe the Creator has finally awakened and a reckoning is near.

  19. Patty Sparks says:

    I loved “The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo”. Despite the wrongs that were done in the past the story was so uplifting. It gave me hope for the future. The opposing themes of a respected elder who still has contact with the Old Ones and the lonely “old ones” in American society in the “elderly care facility”. What we do to our elders is very similar to what they did to Indian kids in the past. The lumpy grave site surrounded by a carefully GROOMED golf course. Deciding what is best for children: remove them from their families and raise them in group homes/boarding schools, or medicate them so they act like other kids (or conform to a certain expectation). The little girl might be labeled “autistic”, yet she has value and beauty that uplifts the spirit. May she, and others like her, be allowed to define what it means to be human.

  20. Lisa Carlson says:

    Thanks to my kindle, The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo was recommended to me. I have been reading as much as I can about rez life. I had just finished Pointing with Lips: A week in the life of a rez chick by Dana Lone Hill, which is a fascinating read, prior to beginning your book. I was confused at first when reading your book about whether it was nonfiction or fiction. I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and frequently travel to Canton, SD for court. I’m a court reporter. I drive into town from the east on Highway 18 and have never heard of or seen any indication of the asylum written about in the book. I was kind of shocked that it was a real place. It shows how much I have yet to learn about the place I have called home for most of my 46 years. I am now finishing Neither Wolf nor Dog. Your books have made me sensitive to a new (for me) way of looking at life, trying to see it and experience it as Dan and Little Zi can, or at least being aware that such a possibility could exist. I loved the awakening, so to speak, of your appreciation of Jumbo in the Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo. He really came alive for me, touched my heart, and was such a great example of how easily we are swayed by outward appearances and our own misconceptions. Thanks for sharing the important knowledge contained in these books with those who seek it.

  21. Lisa Carlson says:

    Correction! I drive in to Canton from the west!

  22. Janette Walby says:

    I picked up The Wind is my Mother a few years ago, and it really resonated with me. I recently re-read it, and decided to look for other similar books. I downloaded your entire trilogy onto my Nook, and read ll of them in the course of a week. I enjoyed all of them but the Girl who sang to the Buffalo reminded me so much of my Grandmother, I loved it. She too spoke to birds,and could heal animals. She was German, and was raised in the Black Forest in the early 1900’s. Until my teens, she always had birds in a cage in her kitchen that had been injured. Some she was able to let go, others she kept as they would never be able to care for themselves. She spoke to plants as well, could grow anything, and my love of nature came form her. I loved her dearly, and your book brought back many wonderful memories of her, thank you…

  23. Mark Kiemele says:

    Your latest book was the first I’ve read,
    hope to read more before I’m dead.
    It made me laugh and made me cry,
    made me shiver and made me sigh.

    From one Minnesota boy to another,
    Hands raised in thanks

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