Buffalo in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, land of the Oglala Lakota people.
Unless you are from the Western United States, Buffalo or Bison, may not be an animal that you have ever encountered.
My experiences with Buffalo are quite personal, having seen them in the Dakota’s and on Reservations where they long ago flourished, roaming in numbers by the millions.
This is a remarkable animal as you would know, once you have come face to face with them and I do mean this quite literally, having once had one lean all the way inside my Jeep in Yellowstone, just to say “hello.”
What an unforgettable experience that was!
My love of the Native people and the Buffalo of the Dakota’s, was the driving force in creating a website to Honor them many years ago: http://www.tahtonka.com/bison.html
The Buffalo/Bison were of immense historical and cultural importance to Plains Native people and it may be difficult for non natives to fully appreciate the extremely vital role that they had played in their lives.
To the Plains people, the Buffalo was everything.
But, in the late 1800’s, this world of the Buffalo Culture, would come crashing down, when Buffalo Bill Cody, a newly constructed coast to coast railroad system and the US Government, completely changed and nearly eradicated, both a beloved animal and a people, almost.
After the initial slaughter, a meager few remained in remote parts of the Dakotas and several other areas, untouched by the kill orders.
The US Government believed that by eliminating their source of food, and an entire culture, the Natives would relinquish at last and go where they were supposed to be, the prisons that were to become their permanent homes, the Reservations.
For the past two hundred or so years, the absence of their beloved Buffalo has been a knife in the hearts to all of those who loved them, up until about a year ago, when they witnessed a historic event, the buffalo were being brought back.
Native people are deliriously happy for their return, wildlife officials love what is happening to the Plains ecosystems, it is a win-win all around.
A bittersweet remark in the story, says that the return of the Buffalo, ” have restored balance to the land,” imagine that!
Although it looks good for now, there is one tiny little hiccup, they are running out of money to continue funding this project.
The complete posting is here and if you do choose to get involved, it seems a small pay back for an animal and a people who have been repeatedly abused by invaders to their homelands for more than two hundred years: