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Celebrate National Bison Month by learning the Cherokee word for bison

A bison walking by the Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. (Photo by Jennifer Michaud (www.sharetheexperience.org)/via U.S. Department of the Interior)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In celebration of National Bison Month, the Cherokee Nation shared a YouTube short on Wednesday, July 20, teaching the Cherokee word for bison.

The short features Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink, who walks viewers through the correct pronunciation of “ᏯᎾᏏ”, spelled in English as “yanasi” and spoken as “ya-nv-si.”

Cherokee National Treasure Dan Mink on the Cherokee Nation YouTube channel

Bison have been in the news quite a bit this year since the end of May, when an Ohio woman was gored and thrown 10 feet in the air by the animal in Yellowstone National Park. That was followed by the goring of a Colorado man and, a few days later, a 71-year-old woman in the park.

The American bison was named the United States’ National Mammal on May 9, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“This majestic animal joins the ranks of the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of our country — and much like the eagle, it’s one of the greatest conservation success stories of all time,” the department’s website states.

Here are 15 facts about bison as shared by the U.S. Department of the Interior:

  • Bison are the largest mammal in North America.
  • Since the late 19th century, the Department of the Interior has been the primary national conservation steward of the bison.
  • While “bison” and “buffalo” are used interchangeably, in North America the scientific name is bison. Actually, it’s Bison bison bison — the genus, species, and subspecies, respectively.
  • Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the U.S. where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.
  • A “red dog” is a baby bison.
  • The histories of bison and Native Americans are intertwined. Bison have been integral to tribal culture, providing them with food, clothing, fuel, tools, shelter and spiritual value. Established in 1992, the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council works with the National Park Service to transfer bison from national park lands to tribal lands.
  • You can judge a bison’s mood by its tail. When it hangs down and switches naturally, the bison is usually calm. If the tail is standing straight up, watch out! It may be ready to charge. No matter what a bison’s tail is doing, remember that bison are unpredictable and can charge at any moment.
  • Wind Cave National Park’s herd helped revive bison populations around the country.
  • Bison may be big, but they’re also fast. They can run up to 35 mph.
  • Bison primarily eat grasses, weeds and leafy plants, typically foraging for 9 to 11 hours a day.
  • From hunter to conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt helped save bison from extinction.
  • Bison can live up to 20 years old. The average lifespan for a bison is 10–20 years.
  • Called wallowing, bison roll in the dirt to deter biting flies and help shed fur. Male bison also wallow during mating season to leave behind their scent and display their strength.
  • The American bison’s ancestors can be traced to southern Asia thousands of years ago.
  • Bison are nearsighted. While bison have poor eyesight, they have excellent senses of smell and hearing.

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