Bison are making a comeback and, no pun intended, in a big way! You may have heard of the health benefits of eating bison meat, but did you know that Native American traditions of using all parts of the bison are still highly revered and practiced?

Bison have always been honored in Native American culture because everything about the bison was able to be utilized. In particular, the bison hide was highly valued and used in many different ways. Taking a look at the traditional uses for bison hides and robes can offer insight into how hides can also be utilized in modern times. Let's count down our Top 5:

5. Tools and Utility Uses

There are different ways to prepare bison hide. Rawhide is a thin hide that has been scraped clean and left to dry, while tanned hide has been through a more rigorous tanning process that makes the leather tougher and waterproof.

Rawhide was used for items that needed a stretchier, more easily manipulated hide. Items such as drums, quivers, shields, and ornaments for clothing. Tanned hide was used for things that needed more strength such as bridles, sheathes for knives, and ropes. You can see from these few examples that the different types of bison hide were widely used.

4. Tipi Covers

Another use for tanned hides was tipi covers. Tipis were the main shelter for Native American families, so they needed to be durable and able to withstand the elements. While different animal hides could be used for other things, the size of the bison hide and the ability to make them waterproof made them vitally important for crafting the large tipis.

3. Shoes

When making moccasins, Native Americans utilized both rawhide and tanned hide. The softer more flexible rawhide was used for the sole of the moccasin and the sturdier tanned hide was used for the top.

2. Clothing

Raw and tanned hides were widely used for shirts, shrouds, and other clothing. But the hide was also prepared with the fur left on, creating a bison robe. Different types of robes lend to different uses. For clothing, they were used to create ceremonial and winter items.

1. Bedding

This is number one on our list because it has the most universal application for today. Bison robes are soft, durable, and water-resistant. This makes them ideal for use as bedding and outdoors. Robes from bison that were prepared and kept whole were used as cushions for bedding, blankets for warmth, and coverings when outside.

Bison Hides and Robes in Today's World

Highlighting the traditional uses for bison hides and robes has helped you learn how well they can be utilized. From tools to shelter or clothes and shoes to bedding, there is a lot of benefits of bison hide for you to explore. Supporting Native Americans as they preserve and share their culture brings the past and present into a beautiful harmony. Start exploring how you can add more bison to your life, check out these available products today!