Introduction

This is a story about violent times. Isabel, a high school student, is disturbed by the bullying she witnesses in the hallways. She is further frightened because many of her friends seem indifferent to the violence they see.

This also is a story about Buffalo Bill Cody, a man who spent his boyhood in one of the most violent settings in American history, the borderlands between slavery and freedom before and during the Civil War. He then came of age on the frontier battlefields of the Indian Wars. When Isabel is magically transported to his side at a dangerous moment, together they learn about some of the reasons for conflict and about the courage they need to find honorable solutions to threats and violence.

Using the Video

The recurring and tragic violence in our schools in recent years makes the issues raised in this story relevant to all students and the adults who work with them. What makes bullies and victims? Is it a struggle for status? Is it a defense of one's turf? Is it simply a breakdown in mutual respect? Is it that we have come to accept violence and depictions of violence as "natural" and a part of life? How seriously should we regard threats? Just what is the appropriate response to bullying? The story demonstrates that there are different ways in which it takes courage to stand up against violence.

Using the Handbook

The booklet can serve as a study guide on several levels. First, it provides context for the stories shown in the video. The Life of Buffalo Bill touches on the events which shaped America's expansion in the 19th century and on motivations for conflict and war. The Timeline shows how Cody's life and the life of the nation intersected. Suggestions for Reading and the recommended Internet Web Sites provide avenues for further study in western and American Indian history. The Glossary defines words and concepts and identifies persons important in the video and booklet.

Second, the booklet helps identify the dilemmas of conflict and conscience faced by modern students. Suggested Classroom Activities and the Video Quiz provide ways of discussing the issues raised in the video, some obvious and some less so.

Third, the Essay Topics are meant to encourage thoughtful consideration of historical and contemporary themes. Some of the topics may lead students to do further research in American history. It must be emphasized that teachers should not feel limited by the suggested topics and activities. Rather, these are intended to inspire creative responses to the material.