We thought you might be interested to learn a little bit about the leathers that go into our products. Here, in our first segment, is an introduction to bison leather.
Few animals hold a higher place in the American psyche than the bison. We’re certainly not the first people to be awed by the animal – Paleo-Indians were hunting bison since at least 8500 BC – about the same time the American Mastodon went extinct, actually. Bison have been famed for both their meat (delicious) and their hides (less delicious, but useful in other ways).
A quick point of clarification: bison, or buffalo, good sir? Well, bison are sometimes called buffalo, but according to scientists who study this type of thing, true buffalo are the Asian Water Buffalo and the African Cape Buffalo. I guess since we’re Americans, we take to calling our even-toed ungulates what we please, thank you. But since those scientists typically know a thing or two, we’ll be calling the American buffalo the American bison from here on out.
So why do we use bison leather? A few reasons – it’s historic, it’s made in the USA, it’s stronger, and it looks awesome.
Imagine you’re hanging out on the American plains 10,000 years ago. Hunting spear, check. Loin cloth, check. Persistent hunger, check. Well, bringing home a bison would earn you the respect of the tribal elders and maybe even the interest of a potential mate (or two). And for good reason – the bison is a walking treasure chest of useful parts. The horns were made into spoons and cups, and parts of bows, while the bones were used for needles, awls and other tools. The meat was cut into strips, often dried and turned into Pemmican. But the hide was one of the most lasting prizes. Bison hides were used for everything from moccasins to pouches, tipi coverings to robes, and even disguises to hunt more bison. With it’s rugged toughness and incredible strength, bison leather could withstand the elements like nothing else.
The bison leather we use in our Rogue Wallet, iPhone case and iPad case is always sourced from farms in the American West. The majority of our bison leather comes from Colorado, but we get some from California too. These critters are born in the USA and spend their days outdoors eating grass – lots of it. When they are butchered, we make sure their skins don’t go to waste. Our bison wallet is one of our top selling items in our Made in Maine collection.
Bison leather has remarkable durability and strength. Forty percent stronger than cowhide, bison leather lasts for decades. Bison themselves are pretty tough too. They’re known to fend off wolves. They cause more injuries to campers in Yellowstone than bears. You don’t want to mess with a bison. It only makes sense that their natural strength comes through in their leather. (If you bring a bison to a wolf fight, you win.)
No two bison hides are alike. Because of the minimal tanning process, the natural variations of the leather show through. If you want something that shows its roots – that you know came from nature – we’d recommend a bison wallet.
We hope you’re interested in our bison offerings. We’ll be coming out with more tanning styles this summer. Below are two prototypes – the Rogue Wallet in dark brown bison and the Rogue Wallet in black bison.