In support of the food sovereignty priorities of the buffalo nations of this region, Buffalo Nations Food System Intiative is founded to:

  • educate and train the coming generations of Indigenous food system professionals
  • strengthen communities through Indigenous food knowledge and access
  • invest inIndigenous research scholarship towards cultural knowledge recovery of foodways and innovations towards vital 21st century Indigenous food systems
  • create more opportunities for Indigenous food producers and businesses
  • heal the Land and the People

The Buffalo Nations Food System Initiative (BNFSI) is Indigenous-led and builds collective, collaborative, and proactive capacity for Indigenous food sovereignty. Drawing on the leadership and guidance from Buffalo Nations of the Northwestern Plains and Northern Rockies and founded on the principles of the Indigenous Research Initiative, BNFSI promotes the priorities of Native Nations through equitable Indigenous-led partnerships in research and education.[1] As a state institution endowed by the land itself, Montana State University significantly supports the development and prosperity of Indigenous food systems in this region as they become reinvigorated by the Native Nations themselves. BNFSI at MSU will credential Indigenous food systems professionals and enhance research using Indigenous knowledge systems as a primary source of understanding and Western Science as a companion way of knowing. Together, both Native and Western Science will drive our collective work and shared understandings moving forward. 

As Buffalo Nations, we situate ourselves in our own sovereignty and in solidarity with the one who has always stood for us, the Buffalo. Our Elders and Knowledge Keepers remind us that it is not the Buffalo who left, it is us who went away. Coming back to our ancient way of gathering as Nations and forging lasting relationships, is to lift the pipe in agreement with one another in the making of treaty. Therefore, we seek to align our work in education and research for vital Indigenous food systems with the spirit and intent of the Buffalo Treaty ( We join with all Buffalo Nations, who have lifted the pipe and are signatories to the Buffalo Treaty to: honor, recognize, and revitalize the time immemorial relationship we have with our older brother, the Buffalo. The Buffalo Treaty is a foundational base to approach the notion of food sovereignty from a Native science perspective. For example, Article VI: Research states that:


“Realizing that Learning is a life-long process, We, collectively, agree to perpetuate knowledge gathering and knowledge sharing according to our customs and inherent authorities revolving around BUFFALO that do not violate our traditional ethical standards as a means to expand our knowledge base regarding the environment, wildlife, plant life, water, and the role BUFFALO played in the history, spiritual, economic, and social life of our NATIONS.”

The BNFSI recognizes that Indigenous food systems are inextricably tied to ceremonial beliefs and practices including connections to sacred sites and sacred species that are diverse among Native Nations. Led by an Indigenous Council, the BNFSI is grounded in seven generations thinking including the seven R’s: Respect, Relationships, Reasoning, Reciprocity, Resourcefulness, Resilience, and Reverence. The BNFSI supports strengthening Indigenous identity and food sovereignty through the safe return of Buffalo to the land and back into our lives again.