Bouteloua Dactyloides (Nuttall)
Qáde banóⁿnoⁿ (Umónhon)
One of the dominant Native grasses of the Great Plains shortgrass prairies, it was a main menu item—as its name suggests—of the American Bison, when these huge bovines “roamed” the Plains in incredible numbers. A supposed “old Indian proverb” of the Lakota runs as follows: “A people without history is like the wind on the buffalo grass.” Traditional Lakota culture depended so much on the bison herds that, when the latter were decimated during U.S. Western expansion, that history was very much threatened. Hopefully, recent Lakota cultural regeneration—and the return of free-range bison—have put the dire warning of the “proverb” to rest.
Sylvilagus floridanus (Allen)
Rabbit is a Trickster figure among many Native tribes of the southeastern U.S. For Great Plains tribes, Coyote is the dominant trickster figure (along with—for the Lakota—Iktomi, the spider). Blessed with both sheer animal "stupidity" and uncanny animal cunning, the Trickster is an archetype of both creative destruction and cultural renewal. In Lakota stories, for instance, he is forever losing his tail, getting chopped up into bits, and generally making a mess of the cosmic order. But he always comes back to life, and the world is better off for his shenanigans. The function of the Trickster has long been debated. In one sense, the Trickster is “raw” instinctual animal, intermittently erupting into “civilized” human consciousness as a numinous force—a corrective against humankind’s reliance on order and reason, and a reminder at last that we are animals, that evolution needs entropy and chaos, and that to remain in any blithe condition of stasis is a psychological and cultural death.