Report on the Dakota Bison Symposium, held June 23-25 in Bismarck, North Dakota
A unique opportunity to reflect on the United States' National mammal, Bismarck State College's Dakota Bison Symposium (June 23 - 25) included enriching presentations at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, an art exhibition, Native American drumming and dance, documentary screenings and guided field tours.
Kevin Locke during the guided tour of several historic sites significant to the story of the Bison on the Plains.
Bison herd with calves, spotted during the guided field tours.
"Buffalo Trails in the Dakota Buttes" author Francie Berg sharing stories during the guided field tours.
The guided field tours included sites in southwestern North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota.
Attendees got to see bison herds roaming in the stunning landscapes of the Great Plains.
Native American hoop dancing and flute music preformed by Kevin Locke.
Tipis going up outside the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.
An exhibition of folk and traditional arts inspired by the bison across generations in a variety of media.
Detail of a diorama included in the bison exhibition.
Experiencing contact with the bison through Virtual Reality.
Learning about the uses of bison meat, hides, horns and bones.
State Historical Society of North Dakota's Curator of Education Erik Holland.
Bus rides during the guided field tours were a unique opportunity to share stories about the bison.
The joyful atmosphere among the attendees of the Dakota Bison Symposium.
We had the chance to hear about the cultural significance of returning the bison to Native American communities, and how it can lead to improved health indicators for people and our environment. We saw discussions about the federal efforts to conserve the bison, and about rearing bison for commercial purposes in a way that heals the land. We learned about the pre-historic presence of the Bison in North America, and how American History is profoundly tied to the history of the Bison. It's worth quoting from author Dr. Dan Flores' presentation on this last topic: "Senseless destruction is America's historical memory of the animal that has now become our sole National Mammal. The buffalo's fate is one of the stories we really ought to understand and internalize as part of our historical trajectory."
The Russel Reid Auditorium in the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.
"Bison: From Whence They Came" by Standing Rock Elder and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Jon Eagle Sr.
"Cultural and Historical Significance of the American Bison" by "The First Scout" editor Dakota Goodhouse, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
"Bison: A Journey through Deep Time" by paleontologist Dr. Chris Widga.
"Destruction of the Bison" by Dr. Andrew C. Iseberg, author and Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas.
"Bison and Healthy Indian Communities", a panel featuring Mike Faith (Former Chairman - Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), Dr. Michael Lebeau (Sanford Health) and Taylor Syvertson (Ending Hunger 2.0 Director, Great Plains Food Bank).
"Return of the Bison", a panel featuring Arnell D. Abold (former Executive Director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council), Brendan Moynahan (Research Coordinator and Science Advisor to the National Park Service and Department of Interior's Bison Working Group Chair) and Kevin Leier (Executive Director of the North Dakota Bison Association).
Native American philosophy, history and traditions played a crucial role during the symposium. Indigenous tribes have a long and close cultural bond with the bison and as former chairman of Standing Rock Mike Faith explained, "The bison is a symbolic representation of who we once were as a people. As the tribes bring their herds back, it symbolizes the growth and health of its nation."
Azimuth World Foundation was a proud planning partner of the event. As an organization dedicated to fighting for a world where humankind and nature thrive in harmony, we wish to send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in the Dakota Bison Symposium.
Photo Credits: Jim Kambeitz (AWF Advisory Committee member)
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