When I was young, my Maha told me stories of buffalo roaming the grasslands, wild and free, in herds of innumerable size. She told me that the “world would shake when they moved.”
Then she told me of the greed of the white man. She shared pictures of 10,000 buffalo skulls stacked into mountainous piles in the sun. Photos of 1,000 or more dead, skinned corpses scattering the grasslands. “You see, white man prized only their skins and tongues,” she said.
We spent hours making fry bread and buffalo stew. She told me of her days in an “Indian school” where they chopped off her hair, doused her with lice powder, and forced her to speak only English.
The wrongs my white ancestors and those like them perpetrated against her people are every bit as atrocious as the crimes of the holocaust, but we did not learn about it in school. White erasure is a primary issue in combatting the lingering injustices faced by our native populations.
They are murdered, lost, and left without economic growth opportunities. Those living on reservations live primarily in desperate poverty.
That’s why the return of the Buffalo matters so much. It means restitution and opportunity for a people that deserves it.
Read this article for more information on the amazing work that is happening now.