Becoming the Buffalo


In the realm of facing challenges, Wilma Mankiller’s powerful quote, “Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it – and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment, I become the buffalo,” encapsulates a profound philosophy that inspires resilience and determination. Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, shared this wisdom that encourages us to confront adversity head-on rather than shying away from it. This article delves into the meaning behind this quote and highlights the transformative mindset it advocates.

Embracing Challenges

The metaphor of the cow and the buffalo paints a vivid picture of how individuals respond to adversity. Cows, often seen as docile creatures, tend to flee from storms or challenging situations, prolonging their exposure to discomfort. In contrast, the buffalo charges directly into the storm, demonstrating a willingness to face adversity headlong. Mankiller’s metaphor underscores the importance of taking proactive action when confronted with challenges. Embracing challenges, rather than avoiding them, allows us to navigate through difficulties more swiftly and emerge stronger on the other side.

The Quicker Passage

The quote suggests that the buffalo’s decision to charge into the storm results in a quicker passage through it. Similarly, when we choose to confront challenges directly, we expedite our growth and development. By embracing difficulties, we gain valuable experience, learn important lessons, and build resilience. While avoiding challenges might provide temporary relief, it often prolongs our discomfort and slows our progress. Mankiller’s words remind us that confronting challenges head-on is the path to self-improvement and personal growth.

The Transformational Mindset

Wilma Mankiller’s life story is a testament to the transformative power of embracing challenges. As a trailblazer and advocate for Native American rights, she faced numerous obstacles throughout her journey. From overcoming personal struggles to leading her community, Mankiller’s experiences exemplify the buffalo’s spirit. Her approach to challenges was not merely about enduring hardships but about actively pursuing growth and change. This mindset shift is crucial in fostering resilience, empowering us to take control of our circumstances and shape our own destinies.

Applying the Wisdom

Mankiller’s quote has resonated across cultures and contexts because it holds universal truths. Whether in personal relationships, professional endeavors, or societal changes, the buffalo mentality encourages us to confront challenges with courage, tenacity, and determination. It’s about reframing challenges as opportunities for growth, instead of insurmountable obstacles. By adopting the buffalo mindset, we position ourselves to navigate life’s storms with grace and strength.


Wilma Mankiller’s wisdom encapsulated in the quote, “Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it – and gets through it quicker,” continues to inspire individuals to approach challenges with courage and resilience. Through the metaphor of the cow and the buffalo, Mankiller’s words remind us that actively engaging with adversity accelerates our personal growth and transformation. By choosing to be the buffalo in the face of life’s challenges, we not only weather the storms more swiftly but also emerge from them as stronger, wiser, and more empowered individuals.

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