Published: Sept. 12, 2023 By ,


After a three-year hiatus, the highly anticipated Rocky Mountain Showdown will return Sept. 16 at Folsom Field. 

As the University of Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State University Rams prepare to face off, fans will inevitably revive the age-old rivalry surrounding the school’s mascots—both of which have deep historical ties to the American West.

While Cam the Ram’s identity as a Rambouillet ram is widely recognized, Ralphie the Buffalo is a bit trickier.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, Ralphie is technically a North American bison. 

Brooke Neely, a research associate with CU Boulder's Center of the American West, discusses the distinctions between bison and buffalo, shedding light on the reasons Ralphie commonly has been referred to as a buffalo. She also explains how these creatures have come to symbolize not only CU Boulder but also the broader essence of Western American identity.