Bison Nation

Encompassing all of the short-grass plains and most of the tall-grass prairies in the honey-colored heartland of North America, Bison Nation has been historically enriched by fertile soils, dozens of wild edible seeds and roots, sizable herds of game, and the farming of annual crops such as corn, sunflowers, beans, and squashes. Bison liter­ally shaped the landscape by their wallows, grazing, and interactions with fires and floods.
Later, when bison declined and immigrants began to plow extensive tracts for wheat, corn, and soy production, diversity and water quality dramatically declined, and game birds like Atwater’s prairie chicken also grew scarce. Recently, out-migration from rural communities to metro areas in other regions has further disrupted land-based traditions. As a result, some forty-seven traditional foods are currently threatened or endangered in Bison Nation.
Nevertheless, Bison Nation today harbors some of the most vibrant local-foods initiatives anywhere on the continent, which support the production of many heirloom vegetables and heritage livestock breeds.
– excerpted from Renewing America’s Food Traditions, edited by Gary Nabhan, with the permission of Chelsea Green Publishing (
Disappearing Foods
* Hawkeye/Red Delicious Old Line Apples
* Honey Queen Raspberry
* Kansas Sweet/Hansen Sweet Cherry
* Lakota Squash
* Lola Queen Peach
* Plains Bison, free-ranging
* Texas Wild Pecan
* See Full List
Tips to preserve heritage and heirloom foods:
* Become a seed saver through the Seed Saver Exchange (
* Purchase heirloom produce and heritage livestock breeds (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,
* If you think a food is endangered, nominate it to the Slow Ark of Taste,
* Support community agriculture, farmers' markets and local food groups.
* Attend events that celebrate local foods.
Read more about Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT).
Disappearing Foods (Full List)
Arikara Ebony Acer Squash
Arikara Long Squash
Arikara Sunflower
Assiniboine Flour Corn
Atwater's Geater Prairie Chicken
Aunt Hattie's Ground Cherry/Tomatillo
Beirschmitt Pear
Cherokee Long Ear/Pop Corn
Cheyenne Agency Striped Flint Corn
Chickasaw Dent Corn
Choctaw Pigs
Evans Sour Cherry
Fall Wine Apples
Faust Barley
Hawkeye/Red Delicious Old Line Apples
Hidatsa Hubbard Squash
Hidatsa No. 1 Sunflower
Honey Queen Raspberry
Howell Pear
Huron Spring Bread Wheat
Jackbean, Chickasaw Lima Jack Bean
Jenny Lake Huckleberry
Kansas City Dewberry
Kansas Sweet/Hansen Sweet Cherry
Lakota Squash
Lola Queen Peach
Long John (Long Red) Potato
Mandan Black Flint Corn
Mandan Bride Flour Corn
Mandan Clay Red Flint Corn
Mandan Red Flour Corn
Mandan Squash
Mulefoot Pigs
Okabena Apples
Osage Brown Flour Corn
Osage Red Flint Corn
Pallid Sturgeon
Pawnee Flour Corn
Pike's Peak/Sibley Squash
Pilgrim Geese
Plains Bison, free-ranging
Ponca Blue Flour Corn
Prairie Potato (Indian Turnip)
Puhwem White Corn
Quapaw Corn
Red Bobs Hard Red Spring Wheat
Red Fife Hard Red Spring Wheat
Sibley Pike's Peak Squash
South Dakota Plum
Spanish Goats
Tennesee Fainting Goats
Texas Black Persimmon
Texas Wild Pecan
Texas Wild Rice Grains, Wild
Turkey Red Wheat
Weschcke Shagbark Hickory
White Park Cattle
Yellow Mandan Squash