Tatanka | Story of the Bison
29 Oct 2018
Tatanka | Story of the Bison is an exhibit that pays tribute to the bison that once wandered the Great Plains. This attraction was founded by Kevin Costner to educate visitors on Native American culture as well as the historical significance of bison.
Tatanka's first annual Autumn Festival and Celebration took place on Oct. 13th, 2018. Usually our fall weather holds a little longer than it did this year, but even so, the parking lot was completely full as people braved the snow to join in the festivities.
(The Tatanka | Story of the Bison is an exhibit that is open April through October, and the festival was scheduled for their last opening day of the season.)
As you drive up the tree-lined entrance, you pass a teepee that rises up to greet you. The beautiful museum (reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright) welcomes you to come in.
Don't mind if we do. The setting was enough to make me unzip my camera bag before the truck even came to a stop. Gorgeous. And how had I not been here before?!
Author Joe Spiller was there to sign his book, An International Crisis in South Dakota. The first $500 in proceeds went to Rosebud Elementary School, and so we purchased our copy before moving on into the rest of the exhibit.
We were lucky enough to get a seat for the presentation about the Native American way of life.
It was an incredibly interesting talk about daily living, values, how their society functioned, and how critically important the Bison were to their way of life.
There are over 10,000 beads on this gentleman's outfit. When the Native American's and the traders would do business, beads were at the top of the list as the women loved them. Wanting to please their wives led to a robust bead trading environment.
The portion of the presentation that dealt with war was incredibly intriguing. In particular, the arrows used in combat (and to hunt) were held together by buffalo sinew. The sinew would disintegrate in water and snow, which made fighting in the winter ineffective and dangerous.
When the settlers brought guns, and could fight in any weather, the power changed hands.
The presentation was somber, moving, and interesting. I will bring my family to hear this story again when they open in the spring.
After the presentation, we looked at the Dances with Wolves costumes (not going to lie - came home and watched the movie later that night) and wandered through the gift shop and wine tasting areas before heading outside.
If the weather held, there were large tents to house local vendors, food, and beverages. There was also going to be face painting, music, crafts, and games for the kids.
The vision was wonderful and we all hope the weather cooperates better for them next year.
However, come rain (snow) or shine - these farmers showed up ... and they brought a fire.
Up next, Tim. The world's cutest baby buffalo. He was generously brought in so people could pet him, feed him, and/or see him up-close. A little shy, he stuck close to his owner.
We were told he is as tame as a puppy and follows them around all over the place.
I want one! Tim, you were the star today.
The teepee and target practice areas made you appreciate how hard must have been to survive on the Northern Plains during the winter months. On this supposedly fall day, the ground was hard, everything was cold and wet, and the wind never stopped blowing.
The bronze sculptures of a buffalo hunt were amazing to see in person - massive, detailed, and glorious.
We were just as disappointed as those in charge of putting the festival together that the weather didn't cooperate. Had it been a bit warmer, we would have loved to bring our outdoor chairs and our children to listen to music, eat yummy food, and soak up the Native American culture during the festival. It was a lot of fun just as it was; we know next year will be even better! We will keep you posted on the details of next year's festival.
Tidbits to Note: