Tatanka 2018 © Oriana Gatta / Fiber Art / 6″ (15 cm) x 9.5″ (24 cm) x 4.5″ (11.5 cm)

This piece was commissioned by scholar, Howard University professor, and friend Shawna M. Morgan. Based on research I did for this project, I learned that the difference between a bison and a buffalo is that bison are native to North America and parts of Europe, and buffalo are native to south Asia and Africa. Also, physically, bison have shoulder humps, and buffalo do not.

Of course, as colonizer language, both “bison” and “buffalo” post-date indigenous terms like the Lakota word, “tatanka,” which means something akin to “he who owns us.” Bison figure prominently in Native American mythology and folklore. To learn more, check out Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies, written by a Karuk tribal elder, Bobby Lake-Thom.

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*10% of profits from sales are donated to the American Indian College Fund.