History of the Bison Song
The Bison Song was originally written in 1960, in English, by Gallaudet student Dorothy Squire Miles (Class of '61). It is, of course, presented in American Sign Language (ASL) during Gallaudet events instead of in spoken or sung English. Each year, auditions are held among the students for one female and one male performer to lead the Bison Song at Gallaudet games.
The ASL version's words have diverged from the original English over the years. This is probably in part from a student desire for a more "aggressive" song, and probably in part from the annual performers' desire to imprint their own stamp on the song. Following are Miles' original 1960 English version of the Bison Song, a 1980s ASL version, and an ASL version from around 2002. The latter two have been "glossed" into English words.
Dorothy Miles' original Bison Song
Hail, hail, mighty Bison spirit!
Hail to Gallaudet's flag
Its colors are buff and blue.
We challenge the four corners of the world
While we fight, aim, fight to pull our team through
Even though all along we are frustrated.
We are being beaten, we are losing. We wait.
We wait. As the sun rises, we practice.
The sun comes up, the sun goes down.
All night, all morning.
It's time for the game.
Throw that whistle away.
We hear nothing.
We are deaf.
Our team, our big team cooperates,
Rah, rah, rah, we support our team.
We love our mighty Bison.
Up the proud Tower Clock pole is Gallaudet's flag,
Its colors are what? Of course, buff and blue.
1980s ASL version in English gloss
(This version is a synthesis of two slightly different versions.)
Hail to our mighty Bison spirit [snort 2, then 3 times],
Hail to our Gally flag,
Its colors buff and blue [clap 2, then 3 times].
All our enemies afraid of our Gally boys,
Because our Gally boys give them
Damn, damn, damn, hell, hell, hell [clap 2, then 3 times].
See how our tall, short, fat, thin, fast, slow,
Ugly, good-looking Bisons [snort 2, then 3 times]
See how our Gally flag
Its colors buff and blue [clap 2, then 3 times]
Challenge the world its four corners
While fighting, aiming, fighting to pull group through.
Even though our Gally boys
Hit, hit, frustrated, frustrated, slump, slump,
What-if our victory seems not possible?
Wait, wait, wait, our Gally boys are always
Willing to fight stubborn fight
From sunrise to sunset [clap 2, then 3 times].
So hail to our mighty Bison spirit [snort 2, then 3 times],
Hail to our Gally flag its colors,
What? Of course, buff and blue [clap 2, then 3 times].
Our boys ready group line go
Referee blow, boys hear-no, DEAF!
And yet we all cooperate, cooperate, cooperate,
Yell, yell, yell, to support our group through.
ASL version circa 2002 in English gloss
Hail-hail-hail our mighty Bison spirit
Hail to Gallaudet flag its colors,
What? Buff and blue.
All-all-all our enemies-enemies
Scared group Gallaudet,
Why? We 'dry' worn them,
Look that group tall and short,
Fat and thin, ugly and cute Bison,
Same look Gallaudet flag its colors
What? Buff and blue.
Challenge-challenge world its 4 corners
While we fight-aim-fight pull group through,
Even-though all-along, all-along, all-along
We frustrated, frustrated, frustrated, frustrated.
Head-off, slapped-face, finished and down.
Wait-wait-wait-same we fight, stubborn, fight
Sunrise, sunrise, sun up-up
Sun down-down, sun set-set
Same practice-practice, continue
Now true business game
QB throw, whistle...hear none, why? why?
Rah-rah-rah support group through.
Kiss-fist our mighty Bison
Proud Tower Clock pole,
Look Gallaudet flag, its colors,
What? Buff and blue.
[Step back 3 times]
['U' kissfist on chest, fist on chest]
* A "Y" made on the forehead, palm out.
A different sign also exists: both hands in "O" shapes, placed thumb sides against the sides of the forehead, then moved out and forward in curved paths while simultaneously closing the hands into fists, as if sliding them along curved and tapered bison horns.
Source: "Bison" folder in Gallaudetiana file, Gallaudet University Archives.
* * * * * * * * * *Prepared by Tom Harrington
Reference and Instruction Librarian