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