Buffalo Cheddar Jalapeno Is it buffalo or bison? The American Buffalo is it not only buffalo. Its closest relatives are the European Bison, or Wisent, and the Canadian Woods Bison, not the buffalo of Asia or Africa, such as the Cape Buffalo or Water Buffalo. Scientifically, the American Buffalo is named Bison and belongs to the Bovidae family of mammals, as do domestic cattle. Because our history has so ingrained in us the name "Buffalo," we still use it, although "bison" and "buffalo" are used interchangeably.
A brief history Bison once roamed the plains in numbers so large that early explorers could not count them. Variously described as: "numbers-numberless," "the country was one black robe," and "the plains were black and appeared as if in motion."