News and Events

Learn about upcoming Tanka Fund events and exciting news of the return!

Renae Ditmer, Ph.D. (Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians) to lead Tanka Fund

The Board of Directors of Tanka Fund, a Native-led South Dakota nonprofit organization devoted to returning buffalo to Native lands, lives and economies, is pleased to announce its hire of Dr. Renae Ditmer as Executive Director.

Dr. Ditmer holds a master’s degree in International Relations (Strategic Studies) and International Economics from Johns Hopkins S.A.I.S. and a doctorate in Government from Georgetown University whose focus was the negotiating behavior of non-aligned sovereign nations.

Prior to coming to the Tanka Fund, Dr. Ditmer owned and operated a Native consulting firm specializing in national security, community and economic development, and operational risk management after years of working as a contractor for the United States Department of Defense. Dr. Ditmer has published extensively in international peer-reviewed journals as an independent researcher and analyst. She also wrote extensively on economic development and entrepreneurship for Native Business Magazine and was a freelance journalist for Indian Country News Media, covering the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) legal cases, providing analysis of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), and profiling national and international figures who impact indigenous peoples.

Dr. Ditmer is the mother of three grown children, grandmother of three, and a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan.

"The need to support Native buffalo ranchers and provide pathways for growing Native herds in ways that contribute to improving the health of reservation lands, lives and economies is critical if we are to restore and regenerate both the prairie ecosystem and the diets of Native peoples. I am thrilled to join Tanka Fund at this exciting juncture in the organization’s growth as a start-up to bring buffalo back to Indian Country and bring a 21st century model of a buffalo-based economy to life," said Dr. Ditmer.

"The legacy and lessons that I want to leave behind for my children and for my people are to think harder, talk less and do more better. For me, that means returning physical health, economic prosperity and the health of the grasslands by bringing our biggest regenerative force – the buffalo – back to Indian Country. I am so blessed to have this opportunity," she added.

Tanka Fund, sponsored by Native American Natural Foods, owner and creator of the Tanka brand of healthy buffalo snacks, is removing barriers that exist for Native buffalo caretakers in growing regenerative and sustainable herds. Tanka Fund has re-granted close to $100,000 to Native reservation buffalo projects for critical infrastructure needs, such as fencing and wells, land and caretaker stipends in order to support herd development. Tanka Fund educates the public about the benefits of buffalo restoration in creating healthy lands, diets and economies, and in bringing back the biodiversity and carbon capturing capacity of America’s grasslands. Tanka Fund’s goal is to return one million acres of Native lands to buffalo and return prosperity and wellness in reservation communities.

News Stories

The effects of near-extinction of the bison are still being felt by Native tribes today

The historical record shows the bison’s disappearance had immediate effects on the health and wellbeing of tribes that depended on them.