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Ute Bison Meat Company: a symbol of heritage, health, and respect

Ute Bison Meat Company (UBMC)

From the pasture to your plate, a company has emerged that delivers high-quality, healthy meat products and embodies a deep respect for cultural heritage and humane animal treatment. The Ute Bison Meat Company, established in 2015 as a division of Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC, embodies these values.

The company’s inception was rooted in a practical and respectful solution to a unique challenge. The Ute Indian Tribe found themselves with an overpopulated bison herd. Instead of resorting to measures that could disrupt the natural balance and dishonor their heritage, they founded the Ute Bison Meat Company. This venture was designed to manage the population in a way that respects both the cultural significance of the American Bison and the tribe’s traditions.

“Where the bison stands in the Native community, we recognize all four-legged as a creation of the Great Spirit,” said Antonio (Aj) Kanip, member of Ute Indian Tribe, COO, Ute Tribal Enterprises, LLC., manager, Ute Bison Meat Company. “There is a special identity that comes with that that plays a part in our everyday living. Bison, in particular, is an all-in-one gift to not only the Ute Indian but other Native Americans —it provides food, tools, clothing, and shelter, and its gift must be utilized.” 

The Woodland bison raised by the Ute Bison Meat Company are treated with the utmost respect and care and raised in a stress-free environment of 420 grazing acres that promotes their well-being. This approach not only aligns with the company’s humane principles but also contributes to the quality of the meat. Stress can influence the taste and texture of meat, but the serene setting of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation ensures that each cut of bison meat from Ute Bison Meat Company has a smooth, delicious flavor.

“We are working on reintroducing the types of traditional grasses that grew here [on the reservation] in the 1800s by working with a branch of the USDA to help mitigate this; there is a concentration of high salt levels in the Uintah Basin,” Kanip said. “This will help with the environment and the land base, provides a balance for the elk, deer, etc.”

This flavor is further enhanced by the nourishing grass hay grown for them, specifically on the reservation. The bison feed on this natural diet, which is reflected in the taste of the meat – a taste that is not just delicious but also wholesome. Bison meat is known for its health benefits. It is lean, rich in nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamin B12, and has a lower fat content compared to regular beef.

A three-year-old bison ready for harvesting yields just 20%, 180 take-home pounds of consumable meat from a 900-pound bison, whereas a cow yields 40%-50% consumable meat, affecting the pricing. 

“Choosing Ute Bison isn’t just about premium quality; it’s a commitment to preserving indigenous traditions, fostering community resilience, and supporting agricultural practices deeply rooted in preservations of land,” said Bleu Adams, chef, and director, IndigeHub. “These animals play a vital role in land conservations, promoting biodiversity and resorting ecosystems. Every purchase is a step towards a sustainable culinary legacy that respects nature and nurtures both body and planet.”

The Ute Bison Meat Company stands as a testament to how business can harmoniously coexist with culture and nature, offering a product that is beneficial for the consumer, the environment, and the preservation of an important American heritage.

Photo credit: Ute Bison Meat Company. Left to right, Arimus MountainLion (ranch hand), Lincoln Bush (lead ranch hand), and AJ Kanip (bison manager).

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