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Tatanka: A Way of Life premieres on SDPB on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 8pm/7MT

SDPB is partnering with Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud Indian School) to produce the local documentary, “Tatanka: A Way of Life”.

“As we began to discuss some ideas for local programs to produce in conjunction with Ken Burns’ ‘American Buffalo,’ we wanted to tell a story that was not being told — the story of the relationship between indigenous people of South Dakota and the buffalo,” said Brad Van Osdel, Director of Entertainment Content at SDPB. “To do this successfully, we needed to hear the voices of the people who lived and continue to live the story of tatanka. Because of our relationship with Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud Indian School) and their willingness to allow us to attend the buffalo harvest and record their students reciting the White Buffalo Calf Woman Story in Lakota and English, SDPB was able to better tell the story from the perspective of indigenous people.”

South Dakota has a long history surrounding the American Buffalo, both positive and negative.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting wanted to tell the story and honor the history of the buffalo while celebrating the return of the buffalo to South Dakota.

“SDPB’s mission is to make the historical and contemporary stories of South Dakota an experience,” said Julie Overgaard, Executive Director at SDPB. ”Providing an opportunity to give people of the Oceti Sakowin the opportunity to celebrate their bond to the American Buffalo benefits us all, for they are the keepers of the stories and we share those stories with the world.”

Future Episodes

All of the tribes within South Dakota have their buffalo program that is reintroducing this animal in a way that not only serves their tribal members but also helps when food is in limited supply. Not only are South Dakota tribes and tribes within the region reintroducing buffalo, but they are also reintroducing the purebred animal. These episodes will chronicle South Dakota’s tribes’ effort to reintroduce the buffalo as a way of life, culture, and use before contact with European settlers. This is a direct testament to tribes exercising their treaty rights and fulfilling their Tribal Sovereignty as they see fit for their members.