KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The national mammal of the United States will have its day on Saturday, Nov. 6 and the U.S. Senate passed again a resolution that establishes the day to honor the American bison, which is most commonly known as the “American buffalo.”

For National Bison Day, lawmakers and bison groups are encouraging people to learn about and engage in bison-centered activities. There are some local East Tennessee bison or “buffalo” farms and ranges just outside of Knox County. One in LaFollette is registered with the National Bison Association.

The American bison is a large mammal that once ruled the North American plains and grasslands, with herd movements tracked and hunted by Indigenous tribes. The species was brought to near-extinction back in the 19th century, and the mammal is considered to have a significant historical role in the U.S. and in ecology.

According to the U.S. Senate resolutions filed in Congress, “bison are considered a historical symbol of the United States, and were integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes through trade and sacred ceremonies. Bison can also play an important role in improving the types of grasses found in landscapes to the benefit of grasslands and hold significant economic value for private producers and rural communities.”

Former U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2016 signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law, which had officially made the American bison the national mammal of the United States.

In celebration of National Bison Day, the USDA Forest Service is hosting a webinar on Saturday. A link to sign up is available on the agency’s social media.

If you’d rather see bison in person, or consume their meat, local bison farmers might be your best bet. Some public and private herd ranches may be hosting some events to help educate the public about bison’s role in aiding grasslands recovery; if you can’t visit in person, there is a free BuySome Bison app, which lists National Bison Association members where you can find nearby activities – and buy meat.

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