For many millennia, Native American tribes had cultural and spiritual ties to the American bison. It is the national mammal of the United States of America.
Bison were never domesticated by Native Americans. Bison have been described as having a wild and unmanageable character There are currently around 500,000 bison on private land and around 30,000 on public land which includes environmental and government reserves.
According to the IUCN, around 15,000 bison are considered wild, free range bison not confined by fencing. The Nature Conservancy has reintroduced bison to over a dozen wildlife reserves across the United States. In October 2016, TNC reintroduced the country's easternmost bison herd at Kankakee Sands Nature Preserve in Morocco, Newton County, Indiana.
In 2014, the tribes of the United States and the Canadian First Nations signed a treaty to help with the reintroduction of the bison, the first to be signed in nearly 150 years. They also prefer lightly wooded areas. The bison also grazes in hilly or mountainous areas where the slopes are not steep.
Although not particularly known as a high altitude animal, the Yellowstone National Park herd is often found at elevations above 8,000 feet, and the Henry Mountains herd is found in the plains around the Henry Mountains, Utah, as well as in the valleys.
mountains of the Henry Mountains at an elevation of 10,000 feet.
The symbolism of the bisons
Among the Native American tribes, especially the Plains Indians, the bison is considered a sacred animal and a religious symbol.
According to Professor S. Neyooxet Greymorning of the University of Montana anthropology and Native American, stories about the creation of where bison came from show that these animals had a very spiritual place among the various tribes.
The bison crossed different areas therefore it had different functions and purposes depending on the tribe. The animal had a special place during ceremonies, and many tribes used various parts of the animal, particularly its skin, to build tool shelters, shields, weapons, and tools for sewing tents.
The Sioux regard the birth of a white buffalo as the return of White Buffalo Calf Woman, their main cultural prophet and bearer of their Seven Sacred Rites. Among the Mandans and Hidatsa, the White Buffalo Cow Society was the holiest of societies for women.
It is known that in the past there were specimens of white bison, that is specimens with their own white color of the hair not due to albinism. The genes for this fur color were believed to be lost as for decades no animals born with this almost legendary coloring have been seen. However, in 1994, a female was born on a Wisconsin cattery with a white coat and dark eyes. The female was named Miracle.