On a glorious morning in September, the Friends hosted our annual Breakfast with the Bison, featuring a very special guest, Lucille Contreras. Lucille is the CEO and founder of the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project and is a member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas. Her organization is a nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the traditional relationship between the Lipan Apache and their relatives the bison — Iyanee’ in Apache (pronounced “eee-yah-knee”) — and the reconnection and healing of generational trauma of the Lipan Apache and other indigenous communities and tribes in Texas.
As guests arrived, Lucille greeted the bison. As members enjoyed breakfast, Lucille shared the story of her people and their kinship to the bison. She answered questions and concluded with two folklore tales about bison and prairie dogs. During her talk, a bison began making calls to her, as if she were part of the herd. The surrounding wildlife also noticed Lucille. Coyotes howled nearby as she shared her tales.
It was an extremely moving experience to see our herd connecting with Lucille and hearing the reaction of the animals while she was on the Refuge. We will be partnering with The Texas Tribal Buffalo Project on future events and programs that will focus on the Iyanee’. Visit the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project’s website to learn more about its mission: texastribalbuffaloproject.org.