Low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat and high in nutrients such as iron, buffalo offers both a traditional, all-natural food source as well as a healthy alternative to other meats. According to the National Bison Association, buffalo meat contains about one-fifth of the fat of beef, pork and salmon and one-quarter fewer calories. Reintroducing buffalo into the diets of American Indian people is an important step toward achieving cultural and physical healing and wellness in Indian communities.
Many Native American communities suffer from a lack of fresh, healthy food options, due to poor economic conditions, but also due to geographic isolation—often charachterized as living in a “food desert.” The lack of healthy food options for low-income families, tribal schools, elder meal programs and other community food programs has contributed to a reliance on cheap foods that are high in sugar, fat and carbohydrates but low in protein and other vital nutrients. As a result, many Indian and low-income people suffer from higher than average rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other health issues. Creating a sustainable, local source of buffalo is one way to help Indian people return to a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
The Oglala Lakota call the Buffalo their sister nation. In spite of the odds that the buffalo and Native American people have faced since the late 1800s, Lakota leader, Black Elk predicted that the Sacred Hoop would be mended again. As part of that process, Black Elk said the buffalo would return.
Richard B. Williams, former president of the American Indian College Fund and an expert in Native history said: “The buffalo are coming back. And it is something of a miracle. Indian people of all tribes are organizing to make this dream become a reality.”