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:
Yellowstone Bison Revitalize Prairie On Fort Reservation
I grew up in Colorado, where there was a protected herd of buffalo near the foothills. We used to travel through the Dakotas every summer & loved to spot buffalo along the way. I always imagined what a spectacular sight it would have been to see millions of buffalo roaming the plains. It is a complete travesty what the US government did to the Native people everywhere in the US. Thanks for posting this!
And you are quite welcome.
Thank you for writing and most of all for caring~
Once you have seen them, there is no forgetting them.
I am suspicious ya know. Do we really think that putting a few buffalo out there is going to make up for the damage done? And besides, I’m sure it’s only in a few spaces not already being used by the rich white ranchers.
Nothing can ever make up for what has been done, but this is a step in the right direction .
So very glad that you care.
Have you been there?
Great news! I hope one day I will be able to go and see them!
You absolutely must see them in person, they are magnificent.
They are now in many places in the West, not just in the Dakota’s.
The return of the buffalo and the eagle are a wonderful sight to behold. Two eagles fly over me all the time how beautiful they are. I just wish more people believed in the sacredness of life. We need the animals more than they know. Your website is absoultely beautiful. I see the Creator has blessed you in many ways. You have sacredness of life in your heart without a doubt. Bless you
Thank you so much for the kind words, they are very appreciated.
Bittersweet, perhaps. While NM has authorized the slaughter of wild horses, the 19 Native American Pueblos scattered about the state are still striving to preserve some elements of their natural way. Sandia Pueblo, the nearest to which I live has had a protected herd of bison roaming on their land since I’ve been here (7+ years). I marvel and give thanks every time I drive by and see them grazing – at peace.
I don’t know how you can get through what is going on there.
Your heart must be in so much pain.
As I said before, I would already be in jail or dead.
I do love NM and have been all over the state several times.
How sad that those in charge simply cannot respect the awesome natural beauty
and uniqueness that makes it the stunning wonder that it is.
Is Ted Turner’s Buffalo Ranch near you?
We have damaged our world horribly. I think that we must do what we can, no matter how small, to try to reverse the terrible course that we have so long followed. Bringing back the buffalo is one such step.
I agree with you completely. As human beings it is scary that we have the power to eliminate vital parts of our own lives. So many have suffered my our own hands. The only way to make a positive impact is to change our ways. Bringing buffalo back and keeping them back is part of that process just as much as keeping peace at home.
Bless you for your compassionate heart.
Would be brilliant for this to continue. MM
It is a very long road ahead, but it is a beginning.
There has to be a start somewhere…MM 👍
Loved this post. I grew up reading books and comics on the wild west, Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson and others. Our forests in India they are known as Bisons.
Thank you for your kind thoughts.
This subject is very close to my heart.
I did not know that you had them in India~
How beautiful they must be. I do hope to see them in person one day, and I doubt that would be here in Texas, but who knows? Maybe I’ll finally get to visit the Dakodas or other place where the Buffalo thrive. And how I pray they keep thriving! Great post Gator Woman.
Thank you Pam.
Yes they are gorgeous in person.
They are in Wyoming, in Yellowstone Park, the Dakotas and Montana too.
Also in New Mexico, but not sure they can be seen there by the public~
I am glad the buffalo are back, even if their future is not totally secure. The “humane” choice to get rid of an animal for convenience confounds me. Growing up in the SW there has always been an animal to blame and get rid of for farmers or “progress” such as wolves, eagles, buffalo, deer, bobcats! Thank you for sharing this important part of our land and our heritage.
Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and for your compassion~
Lovely post, Gator Woman – we struggle to undo our ideas about progress and their consequences
Thank you for your concern and caring, your support means so much to me~
I really like what you are doing.
Thank you Monica~
Magnificent animals. Thanks for bringing awareness.
Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Thank you so very much for such beautiful words~
And all of the same right back to you.
It was lovely to see you in my inbox and even lovelier to see this posting on Buffalo above. The project I am currently working on is about the massive species die-off. It really heartening to see a example of this trend going in the other direction. All my thanks, Elizabeth
Hello Elizabeth and thank you so much for your comment.
The feedback from all of you is extremely important, if this Blog is to do its job.
Let’s see, massive species die off, hmmm………
Well after the good news on the Buffalo page, you could check back into reality on the Pollinators page,
then any one of the Horse pages, followed by the elephants, etc….
You could write a Masters/Doctoral thesis on so many animals that are going away as fast as they can right now!
Please do feel free to offer up any suggestions on any animal topics not yet covered here.
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Great article, I just adore bison. We are also seeing the reintroduction of the even more rare and endangered woods bison up here in Alaska. I always get a kick driving through that area (Delta junction) and seeing them out on the flood plains of the Tanana River.
Thank you so much.
Your Blog is stunningly beautiful.
It is impossible not to love them, they simply demand respect the minute you lay eyes on them.
Especially if they happen to “lean” into or onto your car~
This is very personal and was drawn from repeated experiences with both the people and the Buffalo.