Bison or Buffalo?

What should we call the national mammal of the United States – bison or buffalo? Actually, the two are distinctly different. “Bison” is the scientific name for the animals that live in North America and Europe. Distantly related are “true” buffalo (Cape and water buffalo), native to Africa and Asia.

It’s likely that the term “buffalo” has European origins. Many of the English military of the 17th century wore a type of jacket called a “buff coat”, made of un-dyed leather. Historians believe the term “buffalo” may have evolved from the French word “boeuf”, meaning beef animal or ox. Scientifically correct or not, buffalo has become the common name widely used today.

Two Bison Bulls Grazing

Bison are the largest mammal in North America, reaching 1000 to 2000 pounds in adulthood. Indigenous people found a use for each and every part of the majestic animal. Hides became tepee coverings, bedding, clothes, moccasins, and robes. Bison hair created rope and halters. Bison horns formed dishes, spoons and ladles. Hooves transformed into rattles and dried bison manure burned as fuel.

Bison Powder Horn
Inlaid with Bone or Ivory

There is no doubt that the lives of Indigenous people and bison have been intertwined since prehistoric times. Much like our ancestors, bison is the essential ingredient in our Pemmican Patty products. Our company strives to continue to honor the relationship between Indigenous people and bison for generations to come!