From the beginning of time, the Lakota people and the buffalo’s lives have been connected.
Our emergence story tells of how the Creator “Tunkaśila” instructed us to follow the buffalo and they would provide us everything we need to survive.
For centuries, this sustainable relationship we had with the buffalo existed until westward expansion pushed us both to the brink of extinction.
As the last of the plains buffalo were about to be lost forever, their bond with the Cheyenne River Lakota was again renewed when Fredrick Dupree and his sons traveled the plains and captured 5 buffalo calves. From these 5 calves, a herd of almost 60 head arose.
After Mr. Dupree passed away, this herd was purchased by Scotty Phillips and was expanded to a herd of around 900 head. Upon Mr. Phillips death, 36 animals were purchased by Custer State Park and their descendants still reside there.
Today, our connection with the buffalo is once again strong. Through the efforts of our Tribal leadership, we have developed one of the largest herds of Tribally owned buffalo in the nation.