Tatáŋka or buffalo was held in high regard by the Lakota people. The buffalo was respected as a symbol of the divine because the buffalo was a “banquet” for the people.
The creature gave up its own flesh and life to feed them. It provided for their every need. Its hide covered the típi that sheltered them, clothed them, and was used to make moccasins for their feet. Tatáŋka also provided everyday utensils such as needles and thread, awls, bowls, and more. In this way, the buffalo was a true relative to the people.
Because of the buffalo’s great importance to the people, a buffalo symbol or buffalo skull is present in all sacred Lakota rituals. It stands as a reminder of this great animal that gives completely of itself for others. The buffalo is a symbol of self-sacrifice; it gives until there is nothing left.
The people in their lives imitated this. To be generous and give what you have to others in need or honor them is one of the most highly respected ways of acting or being.