Fort Peck Buffalo Harvest
More good happening on the prairie and with our Native American sourcing partners! Colton talks about our harvest teams recent visit to Fort Peck.
Last week the mobile harvest crew traveled north to the Ft. Peck reservation located near Wolf Point Montana.
Earlier in the year, a group of individuals including Ft. Peck bison herd manager and game fish supervisor Robbie Magnan and Attorney / Economic development advisor Jonny Bearcub, made the trip to witness a field harvest at the Cheyenne River Ranch. Dennis Jorgensen with the World Wildlife Fund, connected Jonny, Robbie with Wild Idea in hopes to spur a relationship that would inevitably provide an opportunity for both parties.
In the days to come after their visit, the three of us hammered out logistics pertaining to the upcoming harvest, which is no easy job and requires much work and dedication. To finalize our game plan, Jilian and I made a trip to Wolf Point to do a final assessment before the harvest crew would make their journey. We spent the day driving around in Robbie’s pickup assessing pasture conditions, herd health and harvest site location.
Winter had set in much earlier up there than back home in South Dakota. The wind was howling and a cloudbank began to move in. By the end of our drive the snow was flying. Robbie must have been more acclimated to the cold than ourselves, or just tougher as he got out of the pickup to open a gate wearing only a sweatshirt, seemingly unhindered by the bitter cold.
In two weeks’, time the harvest crew and myself set out on our new journey to Wolf Point. In the days to come, we would fight unfavorable weather conditions, icy roads and many learning curves. The going was tough, but NOBODY gave up.
There was something bigger happening during our time there. I came to the realization that the only way WE would have overcame all the obstacles presented to us, was to work together with our new partners. Robbie offered all warden’s on deck to help transport the deceased buffalo to the harvest unit. The local public water department provided us with safe potable water, community members brought fry bread and chili to be shared with all.
On the last day of harvest I witnessed an extremely humbling site of Wild Idea harvest crew members working side by side with state inspectors, community members ranging from an array of tribes such as Shoshone, Assiniboine, Sioux, Crow and more. I witnessed ALL parts of the buffalo harvested being utilized. Tripe for toniga. Heads for sun dances. Hides for robes and drums.
The whole trip seemed symbolic to me. There was something magical about how this animal of the prairie that was once used to drive nations apart, was now bringing those same nations together with smiles on their faces. I will never forget our Ft. Peck experience.
Most of the buffalo that is being processed at our facility in Rapid City will be returning to the tribal community in the form of hot dogs, sausage and burger.