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Ken Burns’ new series tells us how bison were brought back from the brink of extinction

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 A bison at Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve in Kansas.
Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve
Ken Burns' new documentary "The American Buffalo" premieres on PBS on Oct. 16.

The documentarian's latest project titled “The American Buffalo” is a two-part, four-hour series that follows the story of this iconic symbol of the West across more than 10,000 years of history.

Bison once numbered in the millions in the North America. By 1900, the large, majestic mammals were almost entirely wiped out by white settlers and the U.S. Army.

Ken Burns, one of America’s most celebrated documentarians, is the director of an upcoming series titled “The American Buffalo.”

Burns says this project is different from his previous works because it's a biography of an animal, not a person.

“The challenge was how to then understand the way in which this now national mammal, the largest land animal in North America, is so interwoven first into Native cultures, but then into our own,” Burns told KCUR’s Up To Date on Monday.

The two-part, four-hour series, which premieres on PBSon Oct. 16, documents the complicated story of how the buffalo is inextricably tied to American history and identity.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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