Tribal Bison Project
Winnebago Bison Project
A Program Of The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
The Mission of the Winnebago Bison Project is to restore bison to the reservation in a manner that is compatible with our spiritual revitalization, cultural beliefs and practices, ecological restoration, holistic renewal, agricultural and economic development, and educational development.
An important objective is to create and maintain a traditional food source through the raising and slaughter of bison. The project is quickly changing from a cow/calf operation to a young bull operation to keep up with the growing demands of the tribal programs for adding bison into the tribal diets. The project provides meat for the elders in the community, the public schools and for tribal members. The project works in concert with the Winnebago Diabetes Program at Whirling Thunder and Little Priest Tribal College LPTC) in the development of classes related to diabetes prevention education.
It is believed the high incidence of diabetes cases among Native American populations is due to the adoption of non-native nutritional sources. The introduction of traditional food sources is perceived as our best preventative measure in the fight to end diabetes in our community.
The introduction of the bison herd represents a renewed connection with the rich cultural history of the Winnebago Tribe.
The WBP has an active youth program where youth are taught the historical importance of bison and its many uses, as well as the current importance of bison. Youth are able to observe the behavior and social structure of the herd up close.
Through interaction and observation of the herd, community members are reunited with traditional life ways surrounding the slaughter and preparation of bison meat. This creates an opportunity heretofore available only through the recollections of elders.
The WBP uses the volunteer services of youth workers from churches, schools, tribal agencies and the Winnebago Tribal Court for construction and maintenance of the refuges. Under this arrangement funds received from the InterTribal Bison Cooperative and other outside funding sources are used to purchase materials, supplies, feed and equipment.
In tandem with the maintenance of the bison pasture, the project intends to attract plant and animal species native to the Great Plains grasslands. By creating an entire ecosystem synchronized with the bison life cycle, we can realign our life ways with those of Ho-Chunk ancestors.
Areas of Need
The project needs to renovate the existing acreage, and upgrade the additional 310 acres added to the project; plus construct permanent corrals on one new site and two corrals on the old sites. The new facilities are designed for bison and will solve some of the current problems with caring for the herd. The project is in need of farm tractor and hay equipment for moving and feeding the bison native grasses. A new farm truck is also needed for moving the equipment and animals to the various locations.
Buffalo Clan in Winnebago
Cha Xee" is the word when referring to bison in the Winnebago language. The tribe is made up of 10 clans, one of which is the Buffalo Clan. Members of the Buffalo Clan served historically in the tribe as the public Criers and intermediary between the Chief and his people. There are three buffalo societies within the clan: the Buffalo clan Feast is the society of those who have been blessed by the buffalo, and the society of those who wear the buffalo headdresses.