Different Cultures’ Perspectives on Human-Animal Relationships

As a human, are you always thinking about animals? I believe humans cannot live without animals because we depend on them to eat and survive. However, the animals humans eat differ. Each person has his or her symbol animals, which are determined by the environment around the person. Japanese people live on an island, so they mainly eat fish. As many people know, the famous Japanese cuisine is sushi. Native American people live in the middle of a continent, so they eat animals, which live in the continent. Depending on the tribe, the animals they eat are different.

Buffalo and Lakota People:

I chose to write about the relationship between buffalo and Native Americans because I went to a Buffalo Harvest with the Native American Center. Before I went there, I have never seen the killing of animals except killing fish. When people eat the buffalo, they pray for him and express their appreciation for him. I felt how important buffalos are for Native people. “As the buffalo roamed the Plains, so did the Lakota. The entire existence of the people centered around the buffalo’s epic migration across the vast plains of North America – from Canada to Mexico; the Pacific Northwest to the Appalachian Mountains” (Prairie Edge June 16 2011).


Grazing buffalo

Photo used by Fair Use.

Fish and Japanese People:

Japanese people cannot separate from fish. For me, fish plays an important part in my food. I grew up in the countryside of Japan. When I went to my grandparents’ or relatives’ house, I always ate fresh raw fish with my family. I learned how to gut fish on a school field trip. I was always told by my mother to eat fish and not eat too much beef or pork for my health.

Since the past animals have supported the lives of humans. In the past, people knew how important the animals were. However, I think people have forgotten this and many people choose to eat unhealthy junk food. They are not eating “real food”. Real food is defined by the as local/community-based, fair trade, ecologically sound and humane. There is an organization, “Real Food Challenge”, which requires 20 % real food in our campus by 2020. Our sustainability team started working to educate students in Fort Lewis College. I want to teach students in Fort Lewis College how important the real food is.


By Hanae Miyabo

Buffalo vs. Cattle

Bison, photo credit google images

Before cows ever came to the Americas, 60 million buffalo roamed freely on the Great Plains, but were almost extinct in the late 1800’s by Euro-Americans. Today, there are 200,000 buffalo that are mainly raised in ranches and in National Parks such as Yellowstone and the Custer State Park in South Dakota. This is a result of the realization of how important the buffalo is to the Great Plains ecology, Native American diet and their former way of life.

Buffalo have been roaming the Great Plains for 10,000 years and have evolved and adapted to the Climate. Their thick hair ensures they have no problem surviving the winter. They have quick reflexes; they are fast, muscular and are very difficult to kill. According to Ernest Callenbach in his book “Bringing back the Buffalo!”, they have no problem finding grass whether in dry years or blizzards.

Cattle, on the other hand, have very weak immune systems and do not have the adequate covering for the cold winters that the plains experience. Cattle ranchers’ loose profit when they lose cattle due to harsh winters and infections. To ensure that their cattle survive, cows need antibiotics. When the cow is processed, then sold on the market, consumers not only ingest unhealthy, fatty, red meat but also the antibiotics. Too much antibiotics consumed by a human being weakens their bodies ability to fight infectious diseases. The immune system is like a muscle and needs to be exercised in order to get stronger. When antibiotics are involved, the immune system doesn’t get the chance to build up because the drug is doing all the work. In other words, the human body becomes dependant on the antibiotics.

Many different Native American tribes depended on the buffalo. Their diet was built on it for thousands of years. The reason for the high diabetes rate among Native Americans today is due to the lack of buffalo in their diet and consumption of “American” food that is non-native to their digestive system. However, not only is buffalo essential to the Native Americans diet, it is healthier for everyone in general, compared to cow.

Even organic local cow meet is fatty and too much consumption of it can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Buffalo is very low in fat and high in protein but the downturn is that its cost is almost 50% more than cow. (Callenback, Ernest 1996)

Before food was capitalized, the plains natives had no problem feeding themselves because they were skilled buffalo hunters even before horses ever came to America. They also never wasted any part of the buffalo after the meat was eaten. The skulls were used for ceremonial purposes, the bones for utensils and the hide for clothing and shelter.

The Buffalo council is an RSO at Fort Lewis College and demonstrates the role of the buffalo to Native American way of life by hosting a buffalo feast annually. You can contact Clarence Smith at casmith@fortlewis.edu for further information.

Written By: Caryna Pourier