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Heinert’s Buffalo: Good Eating, Good Ecology

The Intertribal Buffalo Council’s project to restore buffalo to tribal lands catches the attention of the U.K. Guardian. The project is helping tribes build 55 buffalo herds in 19 states, and not just for happy we-love-critters vibes. As IBC exec Troy Heinert says, Indian people are going to eat those buffalo:

The pandemic, which has hit tribes particularly hard, added to the urgency of bison restoration, said Heinert, who is also the minority leader in the South Dakota state senate. The first animal harvested by Wolakota helped feed homeless residents of the Rosebud Sioux reservation.

“It did highlight the fact that many of our areas on tribal lands do have some kind of food insecurity,” he said. “When trucks stopped coming in, it was rural and reservation communities that got hit hardest. Our people don’t have the ability to travel long distances to find new food sources” [Matt Krupnick, “‘It’s a Powerful Feeling’: The Indigenous American Tribe Helping to Bring Back Buffalo,” U.K. Guardian, 2022.02.20].

Even Indigenous Alaskans, whose ancestors didn’t eat much buffalo, are jumping on the lunchwagon:

Not all the tribes that would benefit from the federal funds are in places where buffalo previously roamed. The Alutiiq tribe on Alaska’s Kodiak Island has been raising bison since 2017 to combat food insecurity. The tribe has nearly 90 animals – including three bulls from Yellowstone national park that were sent part of the way via a specially outfitted FedEx plane – and expects to reach at least 150 this year, said herd manager Melissa Berns.

“People are excited to be able to harvest right in our own back yard,” she said. “It’s clean meat and we know exactly where it came from” [Krupnick, 2022.02.20].

Ecology is about maintaining a holistic balance among all the elements of the ecosystem, recognizing and protecting the connections between animal, vegetable, and mineral. Humans are part of ecology, and eating buffalo raised on local land maintained by local efforts is a key part of healthy ecological practice. Raising and eating buffalo on the prairie is certainly a lot cleaner and healthier than consuming ground pig carcass from the Smithfield slaughterhouse, where man and beast alike are viewed strictly as commodities to exploit for corporate profit.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-02-22 07:25

    That Republican welfare ranchers are angry about rewilding means it’s the right thing to do. Rewild the West.

  2. Tom 2022-02-22 08:45

    I only eat bison…let them roam…harvest as needed…

  3. Porter Lansing 2022-02-22 14:55

    Smithfield Sux Sausages …

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-02-22 17:49

    I always found Bison a little dry but since I’ve given up red meat, I don’t really care. I still drink red wine, a merlot right now as I type. However, wouldn’t they make a ton more money just having the flyover boys hunt them? A week of hunting and gambling on the rez, sounds like a good moneymaking proposition. Now if you just threw in marijuana and I won’t even go into human trafficking although the AG didn’t name the one person who was going to investigate all that did he?
    Has there been a bill making vegan eating a crime yet? Those Republicans are really missing the boat on preserving life as we know it.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-02-22 17:54

    Some good friends gave me some buffalo patties and ground beef around Xmas time. Not bad eating. I would hate to have to pay for them. Of course, i just pan fried them since my new portable propane grill is still in its box and it is too cold for me to spend time outside trying to grill.

  6. Porter Lansing 2022-02-22 18:15

    Mark Anderson … Nobody wants to eat a vegan, crime or not. Ewwww…. (Punctuation matters)

    Ted Turner owns a lot of bison and has a restaurant about a mile away from my place.

    I get taken there by family, on special occasions, if I promise not to go in the kitchen and quiz the cooks. lol

  7. RST Tribal Member 2022-02-22 20:35

    On the southwest side of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, there is the Wolakota Buffalo Range. In the middle, towards the eastern side of the Reservation, there is the Go Brandon bunch raising bison. Remember their Christian Christmas Greetings in the local rag called Winner Advocate; telling President Biden to go Fxxk himself for Christmas. It seems this Christian family has been farming and ranching on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation for four generations, according to their website:

    Many people within the 1889 Rosebud Reservation boundaries know their story. Know their history.

    As the Christian family proudly proclaims, their bison are raised locally on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, in a partnership of families called Dakota Pure Bison. These good Brandon screaming Christians own nearly 1,000 bison that they are marketing from the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation and sold all over the place. Killing bison by non-Indians for gain is as old or older than the treaties between the U.S. and Tribal Nations.

    Their deeply rooted Christian beliefs are about capitalization and sustainability using bison, not like their cattle operation that was abandoned when the cattle market turned down and federal subsidies could barely pay bills but not fill the disposable income billfold. Plus, the marketing campaign doesn’t sound right: Buy your cow meat raised on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. Bison raised and harvested from an Indian Reservation has that just right tone, with a hint of romantic and nomadic tingling to draw in the buyer.

    The Wolakota Buffalo Range raising bison on the homelands want to solve food shortages and financial shortfalls, restoring ecosystems and bringing back an important cultural component, like the dozens or more indigenous tribes that are growing bison herds.

    The bison contradictions, today, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation are historical. One bison head is gathered by cultural beliefs and substances, the other for money-making surpluses. Almost like how the non-Indians appropriated and dispossessed Indians from their land in the recent past. Now the non-Indians are appropriating a spiritual food source for gain.

  8. jerry 2022-02-22 21:03

    What an appropriate last name for this bunch, RST Tribal Member. When I opened the link, I couldn’t help but to snicker.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-22 23:44

    It is high time the tribes organize to raise Bison on a large scale. As a food product it’s far superior to beef and pork, low in fat and phosphorus, which is hard on some people and high in various minerals,vitamins and protein. The bison in South Dakota were saved by the Dupree family, Native cowboys, who traded a few to Scotty Phillip. In a hundred years, this South Dakota stock has multiplied and continues to be a strong, adaptable, animal. Buffalo restoration, for all the right economic and health reasons, is long overdue as a priority for our government agencies. The Government of South Dakota should lead this effort.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-02-23 17:33

    Porter, you assumed me. From now on I will not check my punctuation. Life’s too short.

  11. Alan Pickford 2022-02-23 21:32

    This article isn’t in the “UK Guardian” – it’s in the Guardian US, which is the US-based edition. It’s a subtle difference, but worth getting right.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-24 05:26

    (Is it, Alan? The online-only U.S. edition exists as a subdomain of the primary UK=based website.)

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