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History books talk of the importance of the American buffalo or bison to the Native Americans. Some even had the courtesy to explain that the Native Americans had a use for each and every part of the beast.

White man, as he forced these peaceful tribes westward out of greed for land, also slaughtered these massive creatures and left entire herds to rot in the blistering heat.

To Native Americans the bison are more than just an animal, they are a way of life.

"Buffalo Nation, The People are depending upon you, so we pray you will be healthy" - Lakota Song.

Over one hundred years ago the bison of the Great Plains faced extinction due to federal policies. Today the remnants of the great bison herds face similar policies!

Although some tribes and tribal members have been engaged in the production of buffalo for subsistence and cultural use and/or for sale, individual tribes have conducted these activities with little or no collaboration between the tribes. But, from that February 1991 meeting in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which was hosted by the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, it was obvious to everyone that an organization to assist tribes with their bison programs was not only desired, but also necessary.

With the hard work and dedication of the Society, Congress appropriated funding for tribal bison programs in June of 1991, which offered renewed hope that the sacred relationship between Indian people and the buffalo might not only be saved, but would in time flourish.

The tribes again met in December 1991 to discuss how these appropriations would be spent. At this meeting, each tribe spoke of their plans and desires for buffalo herds and/or to help their existing bison herds expand and develop into successful, self-sufficient programs.

In April of 1992 tribal representatives gathered again in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was at that meeting that the InterTribal Bison Cooperative (ITBC) officially became a recognized tribal organization. Officers were elected and the painstaking task of developing their criteria for membership, articles of incorporation, and by-laws continued over the next five months.

In September of 1992, ITBC was incorporated in the state of Colorado and that summer ITBC was headquartered in Rapid City, SD, once again returning to the Sacred Black Hills -- thus completing a circle.

Below is a list of the uses the Native Americans had for the body parts of the Buffalo or as some know it, the bison:

MEAT Dried Meat ...Immediate Use... Jerky, Pemmican, Sausages

BLOOD Paints, Puddings, Soups

TANNED HIDE Backrests, Bags , Beds , Baits , Blankets , Bridles , Caps , Cradles , Dolls , Dresses , Leggings , Mittens , Moccasin Tops , Pillows , Pouches , Ropes , Shirts , Sweatlodge Covers , Tapestries , Tipi Covers & Liners , Winter Robes

FAT Cosmetic Aids , Filled Pipe Sealer , Hair Grease , Soaps , Tallow

RAWHIDE Parfleche, Buckets , Bull Bats ,Caps , Cinches , Containers , Drums , Horse-water Troughs , Lariats , Masks , Moccasin Soles , Ornaments , Quivers , Rafts , Rattles , Ropes , Saddles , Sheaths , Shields , Shrouds , Snowshoes , Splints , Stirrups , Straps , Trunks

HAIR , Bracelets , Braided Ropes , Doll Stuffing , Hair Pieces , Headdresses , Horse Halters , Medicine Balls , Moccasin Lining , Ornaments , Pad Fillers , Pillow Fillers

HORNS Arrow Points, Medication, Bowls Ornaments, Cups, Powderhorn, Fire Carrier, Signals, Headdresses, Spoons, Ladles, Toys

SCROTUM Containers ,Rattles

STOMACH CONTENTS Medicines, Paints

TAIL Decorations, Fly Brush, Knife Sheaths, Medicine Switch, Whips

DUNG Diaper Powder, Fuel

STOMACH LINER Cooking Vessels, Water Container

PAUNCH LINER Basins, Buckets, Canteens, Collapsible Cups, Wrappings (Meat)

BLADDER Food Pouches, Medicine Bags, Water Container, Quill Pouches

BONES Arrowheads, Quirts, Awls, Saddle Trees, Eating Utensils, Scrapers, Fleshing Tools, Shovels, Game Dice, Sleds, Jewelry, Splints, Knives, Toys, Painting tools, War Clubs, Pipes

SKULL Alter, Dehairing Tool, Sun Dance

TEETH Ornaments

BRAINS Food , Hide Preparation

HIDE LEG SKIN Preshaped Moccasin

LIVER Food, Tanning Agent

GALL Yellow Paints

TENDONS & MUSCLES Arrow Ties, Bowstrings, Cinches, Glue Preparation, Sinews - Sewing

BEARD Ornaments

TONGUE Choice Meat, Comb (Rough Side)

HOOFS & DEW CLAWS Containers, Glue, Rattles, Spoons, Wind Chimes

FOOT BONES Teething Toys, Toy Horses

There are very many groups trying to help prevent the extinction of the American beast known as the buffalo.