People work together to harvest a buffalo during the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation's event in Porcupine, South Dakota, on November 11, 2017. Photo by Kimberly Greager

Native Sun News Today: Promoting food sovereignty with Tatanka Harvest on Pine Ridge Reservation

Tatanka Harvest at Thunder Valley

By Kimberly Greager
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

PORCUPINE - Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. hosted a Tatanka Harvest on Saturday, November 11, as part of their Food Sovereignty Initiative. The community was invited to watch and learn or participate in the butchering, and anyone who helped was able to take something home.

The goal of the TVCDC’s Food Sovereignty Initiative is to create a healthier community through a local food system to increase access to healthy foods and increase economic opportunities through agriculture. Four areas they are focused on are: improving food access on Pine Ridge, increasing food system sovereignty, improving nutrition and public health and decreasing burdens on low-income families while increasing economic opportunities.

According to the Lakota Food Sovereignty Coalition, the Pine Ridge reservation is a food desert. 95% of the food consumed on Pine Ridge comes from outside sources, and most of the food produced there is shipped outside of the reservation.

Several people gathered on Saturday to witness and take part in the Tatanka Harvest. Richard Sherman led the butchering, showing people what to do and answering questions. Sherman has harvested buffalo for 40 years, he was the tribal wildlife biologist for 10 years, and before that he managed the fisheries and wildlife and buffalo programs.

For the last two years, he has worked with the Iron Clouds and Thunder Valley to host Tatanka Harvests. Sherman also teaches people how to identify plants and what medicines they can make.

“It’s all part of being a hunter - gatherer,” he says.

Men, women and children talked and smiled as they worked together on Saturday afternoon to harvest the buffalo.

“The whole purpose of this is reintroducing people to our traditional diet and learning more about the buffalo. I feel like if everybody starts becoming more familiar with the buffalo, then their respect will return with their understanding, which leads to conservation of land because they start to understand that the land is really important,” said Lisa Iron Cloud, who facilitates these meets.


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