A local grocery store in Browning, Montana, the headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, has recently received permission to sell bison meat for the first time in history. Glacier Family Foods looks forward to sharing locally-sourced Blackfeet bison meat for Natives and non-Natives alike.
Locally-Sourced Bison Meat
The Blackfeet Buffalo Program and Siyeh Corporation worked together to make buffalo meat available to the public. Thanks to their efforts, Glacier Family Foods is now authorized to sell ground bison and stew meat for $7.99 a pound.
What’s more, the meat is locally-sourced from the Blackfeet bison herd, which has over 500 animals living on 15,000 acres of reservation land. Also, the Blackfeet Buffalo Program sources meat from bison that are entirely grass-fed, which is beneficial for consumers.
Although selling bison meat is a recent business venture, Glacier Family Foods is already looking forward to future product variations. That said, they eventually want to sell bison jerky and shish kabobs to offer more variety.
A Business Venture With Considerable Significance
Being able to sell bison meat is quite significant for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. For years, tribe elders have been working to offer bison meat to the public and surrounding Native-owned businesses.
Glacier Family Foods grocery manager Loren Racine says, “It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been able to eat our own buffalo.”
Making Bison Meat Affordable
The Blackfeet Buffalo Program focuses on price when selling bison meat. Typically, bison meat is expensive in other grocery stores. Ervin Carlson, the director of the Blackfeet Buffalo Program, says, “we didn’t want to have the price so high that our people couldn’t afford it.”
Because the meat is coming from the Blackfeet herd, it was “really important that our people can afford it,” Carlson explains. So, providing a delicacy like bison meat to their people is something with incredible value to the Blackfeet community.
An Immediate Success
Although the venture’s new, Glacier Family Foods has already seen incredible success selling bison meat in the community.
For example, the local Blackfeet casino sold out of bison during the first week of offering it. And the surrounding community is very excited about the new venture and the potential expansion.
A Healthier Meat Alternative
Not only is bison meat an exciting opportunity for Glacier Family Foods, but it also provides a healthier meat alternative. Compared to beef, bison meat has less fat and fewer calories.
And, because the Blackfeet reservation’s bison are grass-fed, the meat is free of artificial ingredients that most meat products have.
Historically, bison is an essential animal in Native culture. In the past, when tribes killed a bison, they ensured to use every part of the animal for food, clothing, shelter, and cultural ceremonies.
However, in the 1800s, European settlers, traders, and trappers killed millions of bison in the United States, almost to extinction. At the time, this hurt Native communities drastically, as a primary source of food and resources was taken away.
Fortunately, efforts by the tribes, state governments, the Department of the Interior, and a few private individuals saved the animal.
The fact that Glacier Family Foods can now sell bison meat offers historical and cultural significance. The business venture provides a locally-sourced, healthy meat alternative that supports the tribe’s economy and promotes Native-owned businesses.