Tanka Fund to return buffalo to Native land

Tanka Fund is launching a coordinated fundraising and education effort that will support the return of buffalo, a keystone species, to one million acres of reservation land in the United States.

KYLE, South Dakota - In honor of National Bison Day on Nov. 7 and national Native American Heritage month during November, the Native nonprofit Tanka Fund is dedicating an entire month of online activity to help support the return of the buffalo to the lives, land, and economy of indigenous peoples.

The coordinated fundraising and education effort will support the return of buffalo, a keystone species, to one million acres of reservation land in the United States. Tanka Fund, Native-led and operated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, provides leadership, direction and expertise to make the return of the buffalo a reality in Indian Country.

"The return of the buffalo will help Native ranchers overcome the obstacles they face in growing economically and environmentally sustainable buffalo herds that can feed reservation communities and build community wealth," said Dawn Sherman, member of the Lakota, Shawnee and Delaware tribes, and board member of Tanka Fund. "Natural bison will drastically improve access to healthy foods for so many that struggle with high rates of diabetes and heart disease on the reservation."

Sherman is CEO of Native American Natural Foods, creator of the bison and berry Tanka Bar which was developed in 2007, and resulted in the new retail meat snack bar category. Tanka's bison and fruit grab-and-go meat snack is made from a traditional Native recipe that is still used today, called wasna. Sales of the bars online and in stores nationwide will help support the return of the buffalo.

With two contests, videos, a Facebook Live panel and an education series, the Tanka Fund has set the goal of raising $50,000. Daily social media posts using #TankaFund and #SupportTheReturn will lead interested donors to www.tankafund.org/return.

"As more people learn about our social justice work in Indigenous communities, we will grow our following and raise funds to provide tools and solutions to improve the health of our reservations," said Trudy Ecoffey, executive director of Tanka Fund. "The funds will directly impact Native buffalo ranchers to support and sustain ranch planning, financing and operations."

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