Animal House 

These days, most folks' closest encounter with bison, or buffalo, comes via the bison burger.

But before the bison was primarily raised for human consumption, the Plains Indians depended on them for their very survival.

The Pink Palace provides a history lesson on the animal in its new exhibit, "The Bison: American Icon." The University of Pennsylvania's Penn Museum and the Field Museum in Chicago are partnering with the Pink Palace for the exhibit, contributing bison-related objects from their Native American collections.

The exhibit highlights the bison's significance in the 1800s to Native American culture and how the bison's decline in population affected that culture. The show features Plains Indian artifacts and art, eating utensils, apparel, and other items — all inspired by or fashioned from bison.

"They used all parts of the bison, for everything from their housing to their clothing to their food," says Steve Masler, manager of exhibits at the Pink Palace.

"If you imagine what oil is like for us now, that's comparable to what bison were for the Plains Indians back then," says Bob Thurlow of the Penn Museum. "The bison permeated everything in their culture."

"The Bison: American Icon" at the Pink Palace Museum through May 25th.

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