This weekend we are celebrating Native American Day with our Native American employees. Although Native American Day is officially on Monday the 14th, in our community of Rapid City, it's a full weekend filled with festivities to include one of the largest Pow-Wows in the country and a parade.
Our staff at Wild Idea Buffalo Company (WIBC) is very diverse and most definitely does not lack character. Everyone’s time, talent and contribution to our product and company is greatly appreciated. Our melting pot of cultures along with the buffalo, we feel are aiding in the healing of broken relationships and promises. It is small in scale, but for us huge in heart.
Although we are not Native American, in honor of this newly celebrated holiday (formerly known as Columbus Day), we would like to introduce you to our staff. We hope you enjoy the photos of our whole crew, as well as learning a bit more about our talented Native staff members.
Chris White Eagle is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He is the father of eight. Chris has been a butcher for eighteen years and has been employed as an artisan meat cutter at WIBC for seven years. Chris participates in drumming and dancing and heads up his late father’s dance and drum group. What the buffalo mean to him: “They are our sacred animal. I like the way we process them, humanely in the field with grass in their mouth.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “The management - I like who I work for.” Chris was also a participant/contestant in “The American Butcher” this year, which was featured on the History Channel.
Clay White Eagle is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne Sioux Tribe. He is the father of three with a new baby on the way. Clay has been a butcher for ten years has been employed by Wild Idea for the past seven years as an artisan meat cutter. Clay is also a Cheyenne Men’s Traditional Dancer. Favorite thing about the buffalo: “A good food source.” Favorite thing about working at WIBC: “I like being with my co-workers and joking around!” (*Native humor is some of the best!)
Chance White Eagle is 18 years old and a new staff member at Wild Idea. He is being mentored under his father, uncle and the whole crew. He is also training to be a Cheyenne Men’s Traditional Dancer. Favorite thing about working at WIBC: “Every time I come to work it makes me happy.”
Tim Pickner is an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. He is the father of six children and has fourteen grandchildren. Tim has been a butcher for 40 years and has been employed as an artisan meat cutter for 4 years. What do the buffalo mean to him: “It’s a healthier meat for the people, if the animals are raised right. Years ago our ancestor’s never had heart disease or diabetes because they were eating healthy meat. The buffalo were also our clothing and our shelter. Years ago we harvested an old bull on the Cheyenne reservation that was causing some trouble. We circled around him and did a ceremony and after, we drank the blood, making us one.” Favorite thing about working at WIBC: “Using your skills and working among other native brothers. And, respecting our native brother that we are butchering.”
Darrell Martin is an enrolled member of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Tribe. He is the father of two children. Darrell has been a meat cutter for over five years and has been employed at WIBC for a year and a half. What the buffalo mean to him: “They are a spiritual animal – they were one of our main providers for all things a long time ago.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “Being able to use my craft and put those skills to use.”
Ron Cross Dog is an enrolled member of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Tribe. He is the father of one. Ron has been working in the meat industry for over four years and is a new addition to the WIBC staff. What the buffalo mean to him: “They are medicine.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “Everyone’s really friendly – feels like family.”
JC Kills Spotted is an enrolled member of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is the father of five and will soon be a grandfather. JC has been a meat cutter for over 18 years and has been employed at WIBC collectively for over two. JC is a Grass Dancer and is involved in the pow-wow circuit. He is also a drummer with the Stony Park Singers from Alberta Canada. What the buffalo mean to him: “To me it feels like they are a part of our culture. I prefer working with them than working with beef. It connects you to the experience of the past – what our ancestors went through.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “Nothing goes to waste. The fact that we have a lot of native cutters and the camaraderie of working with his brothers. And, working here – I’m allowed to do the pow-wow circuit.”
Michael DuBray is an enrolled member of the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Tribe. He is the father of one. Michael has four years experience in the meat industry and has been employed at WIBC for over a year.What the buffalo mean to him: “The buffalo are part of who we are. We used to totally depend on that one animal for everything.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “Being out on the prairie during harvest with the buffalo.”
Melissa Kogel is an enrolled member of the Chippewa White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. She is the mother of two. Melissa has been employed in our sales and customer service department for the past four years and is currently our Sales Manager. What the buffalo mean to her: “For me they mean everything - they are life. Starting to work at WIBC brought my native heritage back full circle and I have a new found respect for the bison and what it meant to the native culture and the area.” Highlight of working at WIBC: “Any time I get to go out to the ranch and be among the buffalo herd. It never gets old.”
A big thank you to all of our staff and to all of you - who purchase our 100% grass-fed, humanely field harvested buffalo meat products. You are keeping us all afloat and we couldn’t do it without you.