Honoring Thathanka Oyate community festival Saturday, Sept. 30 at Maȟpíya Lúta

MAȞPÍYA LÚTA – Across America, fans are awaiting the October release of acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns’ latest film called “The American Buffalo.” In South Dakota, an early screening of that film will include a series of unique and exciting events.

“It is a quintessentially American story,” Burns said, “filled with unforgettable stories and people. But it is also a morality tale encompassing two historically significant lessons that resonate today: how humans can damage the natural world and also how we can work together to make choices to preserve the environment around us. The story of the American buffalo is also the story of Native nations who lived with and relied on the buffalo to survive, developing a sacred relationship that evolved over more than 10,000 years but which was almost completely severed in fewer than 100.” 

South Dakota Public Broadcasting partnered with Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud Indian School) to produce “Tatanka: A Way of Life”.

The first preview screenings of both films will be the featured events at the Honoring Thathanka Oyate community festival from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Maȟpíya Lúta (Red Cloud Indian School).

In addition to the screenings of the two new films, there will be a variety of opportunities for attendees to celebrate the buffalo, including art booths, dancer/singer demonstrations, traditional Lakota storytelling about the buffalo, a presentation about the traditional uses of the buffalo, traditional Lakota hand games, a round dance and more. 

Ken Burns

The evening will end with a community meal that will feature buffalo as part of the meal.

“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.”


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