The Buffalo Trail has been introducing tourists and locals alike to sites such as the buffalo jump at the Shadehill Reservoir and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s buffalo herd for the past year.
Expanding on that self-guided tour book of 10 buffalo-related sites in North and South Dakota, Hettinger author Francie Berg is back with another book, "Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains," which goes into more detail on the last great buffalo hunts and the animal’s comeback in North America.
“It is a good day,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith, who lauded Berg for her work in spreading the history of the buffalo and working with his tribe to tell of the animal’s importance. “She does so much for buffalo by just putting this together … On behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, I say thank you.”
Berg said some people don’t realize how lucky the state is to have the once nearly extinct animal around.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s own herd revival started with six animals. Today, it has about 300 across 3,400 acres of pasture, Faith said.
“It took us a long time to get there,” said Faith, who played an integral part in developing the herd through his work on the InterTribal Buffalo Council.
Today, the tribe gives passing tour buses a glimpse of its animals. Tours can call the tribal office or Sitting Bull College to arrange a trip to the tribe’s pasture south of Prairie Knights Casino and Lodge.
“What’s important now is to share that history and open the door for tour groups from overseas,” said Faith, pointing out that it is an effort he would like to see his tribe expand through partnerships with the state tourism department. “Tourism has been there on Standing Rock on a small basis, but I want to increase that.”
Faith also invites travelers and residents to take part in events such as Porcupine’s powwow, scheduled for this weekend.
North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman said North Dakota’s tribal herds give travelers the opportunity to see the animals in their authentic and natural habitat. And Berg’s books help promote that.
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis also thanked Berg for including his tribe in her buffalo history narrative, which touches current tribal lands and former tribal lands around Hettinger.
"We have a lot of shared history we can be proud of and more to come," he said.
Berg's first book has sold from 500 to 600 copies, with proceeds going to market tourism around Hettinger. Both books are being introduced into the curriculum of Hettinger public schools, giving students an account of centuries of tribal history that happened just outside their back doors.
Hard copies of the book can be purchased for about $35 at various Hettinger businesses, the Hettinger Chamber of Commerce and the North Dakota Heritage Center. There is also an e-book for about $20 available at www.hettingernd.com/buffalotrails.