cook at Santa Fe Indian School witnessed the slaughtering and butchering
of a buffalo on Nambé Pueblo and took meat from the animal
to the school.
want to cook the food (in a way) where it brings people together,"
said the cook, Gerald Rosetta of Santo Domingo Pueblo on Dec. 4
at the Buffalo Range in Nambé.
students and others from the school joined tribal members from Nambé
to take part in a traditional bison butchering.
students were exhilarated at having helped cut the buffalo apart
-- some used handsaws to cut the animal's hide. Patrick Maestas,
14, and other boys had bloody hands after having touched the buffalo.
animal's meat will be eaten in several pueblos and its head will
be mounted at the school and used as a mascot, said Ben Yates, buffalo
keeper at Nambé.
had raised the buffalo for five years. "I brought him up since
he was a boy -- now he's going to a special place to be represented
by all these tribes," Yates said.
seemed pleased that the animal was being sent "home in a traditional
way," similar to the manner in which Yates' ancestors hunted
and properly parted with the animal's spirit, the buffalo keeper
son, Aaron, named the buffalo Mr. Mi-Tonka (my big bull). The animal's
real name was Flint Mountain, Yates said.
new buffalo that will fortify the gene pool of the tribe's herd
will replace the slaughtered bison.
the Intertribal Bison Cooperative, a national organization, the
tribe recently received a herd of 12 bison to supplement the village's
herd of 11. The buffalo roam on 200 acres of the village's 19,000
acres in Nambé, which borders Pojoaque and Tesuque pueblos,
Yates said. However, the buffalo keeper would prefer it if the animals
would be allowed to roam in their "natural habitat" at
the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the center of the Jemez
Mountains. Yates has sent letters asking preserve managers if the
animals can roam there but hasn't received a reply.
butchering of the animal seemed to bring the men together. Darren
Valencia, 16, of Santo Domingo Pueblo, pointed out that the bison's
hide was being salted and the boys were learning traditional ways
of butchering. Girls from the school didn't attend because "they
just cook," Valencia said.
was a once in a lifetime experience," said Jose Patricio, 17,
of Acoma Pueblo. "I was thinking about buffalo wings,"
he joked. Other students who participated were Josh Peynetsa, 15,
of Zuni Pueblo; Kenneth Nieto, 16, of Santo Domingo Pueblo; Myron
Sandoval, 16, of San Felipe and San Juan pueblos; Malcom "X"
Morgan, 14, of the Navajo Nation; and Kerwin Tsosie, 18, of Jemez
the end of the butchering, Walter Dasheno, an administrator at the
school and former governor of Santa Clara Pueblo, said a prayer
in Tewa. The men and boys bowed their heads.
hope it gives you sustenance, and the creator will bless you,"
said Nambé Pueblo Gov. Tom Talache.
forget your traditional ways," Lt. Gov. Shannon McKenna cautioned
the boys. "Remember your villages and be proud of that."
bison co-op, which includes 51 federally recognized tribes in 17
states, works to restore buffalo to American Indian lands. Surplus
buffalo from national parks are donated to member tribes. Picuris,
Pojoaque, San Juan, Sandia, Taos and Tesuque pueblos also raise