Manataka American Indian Council

 

 Proudly Presents

 

FEATURE STORY

February 1, 2010

 

 

 

 

The Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative (LBCC) is a 100% Native American owned and operated cooperative association on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Its membership is made up of small family buffalo caretakers who respect the buffalo and the land. Members of the LBCC are committed to the restoration of the northern plains ecology, self-sufficiency and strengthening the sovereignty and self-determination of the Oglala Lakota Nation and all indigenous peoples.

 


LBCC Members: Ed Iron Cloud (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation), Henry Red Cloud (Lone Buffalo), April Abril (friend of co-op), John and Judy Black Feather (Black

Feather Buffalo Ranch).

Buffalo raised by members:

  • Live on open ranges, never in feedlots (non-CAFO)

  • Eat wild grasses their entire lives

  • Are Free from antibiotics and hormones

  • Are Respectfully harvested in the field

Mission
The mission of the Lakota Bison Caretakers Cooperative is to come together to create unity amongst Lakota Tiwahe bison ranchers. To be a common voice in support of one another. To help develop and promote the sales of buffalo meat as well as the care for the animals. To develop markets and to help out and encourage more Lakotas to raise buffalo on the reservation. To expand the amount of acreage in buffalo and land restoration. And to promote the consumption of buffalo meat on the reservation. And to strengthen the culture, language and ceremonies of the Lakota nation.

 

The Pine Ridge Reservation
The Oglala Lakota have had a historic and sacred relationship with the great Buffalo herds of North America extending back many generations. The Lakota relied upon the buffalo for their food, clothing, shelter, and even social structure and occupied an important part of the Lakota cosmology. The White Buffalo Calf Woman showed the Lakota how to pray and also warned them that when the buffalo are gone, the sacred hoop of the Lakota will end. This warning almost became reality when, in the late 1800s the great buffalo herds, which once numbered as high as seventy million animals, were almost killed to extinction by Euro-American settlers for hides, tongues, sport, and for control of the Native nations that depended upon them.

 

In recent years the buffalo have experienced a resurgence in their populations in North America but especially as on Native American Reservations as a both a viable strategy for economic development but also as a symbol of the resurgence of Native American communities and their healing of the sacred hoop of White Buffalo Calf Woman. Home of the Oglala Lakota Nation, the Pine Ridge Reservation was established during the 1876 Fort Laramie Treaty and encompasses a territory of approximately 2 million acres of the Northern Great Plains in southwest South Dakota. With a population of over 26,000, the Reservation exists today as one of the poorest places in the United States and lags far behind other parts of the United States in virtually all standards of human well-being. While most people on the reservation own significant amounts of land inherited from their parents and grandparents, very few people are have the resources to utilize it. In fact, nearly 60% of lands allotted to Lakota families during 1887 General Allotment Act are being leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for an average of $3.50 per acre, although, most people (the median) are receiving only fifty cents per acre.

 

Naturally, this situation has had a dramatic impact on the overall economy on Pine Ridge. According to the USDA 2002 Census of Agriculture for American Indian Reservations of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, in 2002 there was nearly 33 million dollars in receipts from agricultural production on Pine Ridge, yet less than 1/3rd of that income went to members of the tribe.

 

History of the Cooperative
The roots of the LBCC come from the Adopt-A-Buffalo program initiated by Village Earth, a not-for-profit organization based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Adopt-A-Buffalo was started to support Lakota families to utilize their legally allotted lands, over 60% of which was being leased out, primarily by non-tribal members Through this initiative, Village Earth helped recover over 2000 acres for buffalo restoration, releasing over 82 head of buffalo onto these lands. Some of the families Village Earth worked with were just getting started, others were already raising buffalo on their lands. Over the years, these families helped one another care for their herds. In 2007 the Lone Buffalo Project, the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation, and the Black Feather's began discussing the possibility of forming a cooperative to help market their natural grassfed buffalo. By August of 2008 the cooperative was officially incorporated in the State of South Dakota and by November their labels were approved by the USDA.

 

While the members of the LBCC seek to earn some income from their herds, their overarching goal is to restore the buffalo, restore the native ecology on Pine Ridge, and help renew the sacred connection between the Lakota people and the buffalo nation. By purchasing meat from the LBCC you are supporting these goals. We also invite you to visit us and the buffalo on Pine Ridge.

 

The LBCC has partnered with Allied Natural Meats, Ltd. of Fort Collins, Colorado to facilitate the distribution of LBCC packaged meats.

 

Order Buffalo Meat Here: http://lakotabuffalocaretakers.org/order.html

 

Info@lakotabuffalocaretakers.org

 

 


 

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