For my project, I chose the topic of bison because of the “Blue Babe” carcass of a pre-historic bison that was the museum. I had immediately recognized the name of the carcass as homage to Paul Bunyan’s oversized blue ox named Babe. I have always been fascinated by the story of Paul Bunyan and Babe because I’ve grown up in the northern woodland climate, and so I thought that Paul Bunyan could be an appropriate avenue for this assignment. There have been a lot of various stories that have been told of Paul and Babe, most of the stories centered on terrific feats of human strength. So I felt that it could be easy to take key elements from the various stories about them and spin it off with my own take/story. Plus, they and other key figures helped establish American folklore and the term “tall tale.” Since the stories of Paul and Babe are usually set in the northern woodland areas in forests, I thought it could definitely be intriguing for Alaskans in particular to learn more about. Some of the similarities between the Minnesotan forests and Alaskan forests are there to be explored, and Alaska used to be used a lot for timber and other facets in the logging industry.
I could also talk about the significance of the bison on the Great Plains to the various Native American tribes that used them as a source for food, clothing, and tools. I know that perhaps with a little bit of research, I could find stories and folklore about the bison and their effects on the tribes. I could perhaps include stories of the bison from when they were prominent (pre-1860) to when they were being decimated by white American hunters in order to be driven off of the Plains and onto reservations.