Once upon a time they were perhaps the most plentiful and majestic creatures in North America, but now people see them from behind a fence. Tourists in the Dakota Territory regularly ask their guides the most common question; “Can you feed buffalo carrots?”, because they’re so used to seeing horses behind the same type of wire. What these people don’t realize is that they are looking at an animal that was humanity’s salvation.
The answer is yes, they can be fed carrots. In fact, there are videos on YouTube of children playfully doing just that. The creature’s long tongue, made for plowing the plains like a lawnmower, reaches out hungrily; but one might say it is a shame. The question is not "can you," but "should you." The question, “Can you feed buffalo carrots?” brings to mind the demise of western culture in relation to the indigenous tribes that coexisted peacefully with the bison for countless generations.
To answer the actual question, let’s first investigate the animal’s traditional diet. Since the last ice age, these animals have fed on the prairie grasses, or those that sprout up in the forest lands of Canada. They are devourers of sunlight energy through natural carbohydrates. However in this era, those that are raised in a ranch style environment are fed like cattle with grain, alfalfa pellets, hay during the wintery months, or cubes for a sugary snack.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, all of the westward expansion and technological progression has made it so that the closest people can get to the wild version of these ancient animals is a sloppy bowl of wings in hot sauce. The question begs to be asked, how would the American continent look if Europeans never showed up? Would the indigenous tribes have technologically progressed into their own manufacturing and technological revolutions?
Rather than people asking, “Can you feed buffalo carrots?” would they still be learning the ancient ways of how to turn one single animal into supplies and food stores to support a family for a month? If modern culture collapses under the pressure of industrial nations, climate change, and 7 billion humans, how will people survive? They know nothing about what it means to live off the true bounty of nature, or to respect animals like the bison as the gifts that it brings.
Buffalo are relics of a time when humanity and nature lived in accord, and there was at least a semblance of equilibrium. Their kind and the protein in their flesh made it possible for homosapiens to survive through tens of thousands of years of harsh evolution. Their pictures are hand painted on cave walls from ancestors that lived hundreds of thousands of years ago, and now they’re stuck in small herds behind man made fences on cordoned off tribal land.
“Can you feed buffalo carrots?” is a question asked by Americans who know nothing of their history, heritage, or ancestral birthrights. They don’t know the true origin of the animal anymore than when they take a trip to the zoo. Their minds are tattered, hazy from overuse, and over exposure to digitized entertainment. Nature is merely an idea; a concept to be discussed in online forums and used as a desktop background.