Group developing regional buffalo tour

Adams County and the surrounding area were once littered with herds of buffalo, and one local group is hoping to honor the large animal and the last great hunts that has become synonymous with this part of the region.

Buffalo Hunt by CM Russell (Courtesy Amon Carter Museum)
Buffalo Hunt by CM Russell
(Courtesy Amon Carter Museum)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

Adams County and the surrounding area were once littered with herds of buffalo, and one local group is hoping to honor the large animal and the last great hunts that has become synonymous with this part of the region.
The Dakota Buttes Visitors Council, along with North Dakota Tourism, is currently developing a world-class tourist destination comprised of 10 sites of historical buffalo hunts. The sites run from Hettinger, through various locations in South Dakota before finishing in Jamestown, where visitors can see the large buffalo statue and enjoy seeing the famous white buffalo.
This venture began with a 1995 book called “The Last Great Buffalo Hunts” which chronicled the traditional Native American hunts that have gotten lost in history. The reputation of hunting buffalo has fallen on the brutal slaughter by white hide hunters, when in reality, many buffalo hunts were meant as an honor for the Native Americans. And in the 1995 book, these hunts conducted by the Lakota and Dakota tribes in the late 1800s are detailed.
The 10 stops on the tour include three in Hettinger, one in Reva (South Dakota), one in Bison (South Dakota), two in Lemmon (South Dakota), one in Ft. Yates (North Dakota), and one in Jamestown (North Dakota). One other stop includes a wide area where visitors can actually view live herds of Buffalo.
“To complete the story, I think they need to see a tribal herd,” Francie Berg said. Berg is a member of the Dakota Buttes Visitors Council, and has been instrumental in organizing this tourism spot.
Among the stops is the valley of the last stand, where the final harvest of 1,200 buffalo was conducted by Sitting Bull and his group. The stop in Bison was included to recognize the Pete Dupree family, which has been internationally recognized as helping to persevere the species when they saved five buffalo calves and ingratiated them with their own herd of cows, nursing them to mature animals.
In conjunction with the tour, the Dakota Buttes Visitor Council will be publishing two books, that will act as guides to the tour. “Buffalo Trails in the Dakota Buttes” will be the 70-page guide that takes visitors on the tour and give them brief descriptions of the locations as well as tidbits of information on the historical sites. A larger, companion-like book will be more in depth with more photos and act as sort of a ‘coffee table’ book for interested parties to take with and flip through off the trail.
By partnering with North Dakota Tourism, the tour benefits from their advisement and the audience their website and tourism literature reaches. They have also told the council that they would include the tour on their ‘Best Places’ section and recommend it for international tours. Which would be a big boost to the local economies that are home to these 10 sites.
Final details on the tour and books are currently being finalized, and Berg said that they would like to have the tour open by April 1, 2017.
The council is very enthusiastic about the tour, and Berg emulated that enthusiasm when talking about the unique experience visitors will have as they travel from stop to stop.
“It’s the only place in the world where there was last [buffalo] hunts by [Native Americans],” Berg said. “And the last hunts at all.”
The Dakota Buttes Visitors Council is comprised of five members. If anyone is interested in becoming involved with the council, they can contact Earleen Friesz at 701-567-2531.