Amazing Photos and Video of the Return of Wild Bison to Tribal Lands
More than a century after they disappeared, wild bison once again roam Montana’s Northern Great Plains. On March 19, 2012, more than 60 bison were loaded onto trucks near Yellowstone National Park and driven to Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation for release into the wild. National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, spent decades working on an agreement with the state of Montana to make this happen. We envisioned a future when Yellowstone bison, the last genetically pure, free-roaming, wild bison population in the U.S., could provide animals to establish new herds across the West. That vision has now been fulfilled.
These photos and the video below capture the welcome home ceremony.
The Round Up
“Tribal people have a deep historical, cultural, traditional and spiritual connection to bison that stretches back thousands of years. Yellowstone bison have a special status for us because they are the last wild, free-ranging herd with no cattle genes. The well-being of the bison and the tribes are intertwined.” ~ Mike Fox, Fort Belknap tribal council member
Driving the Bison Home
“Special thank you to all who worked to make this happen!! You did good!!!” ~ Comment from Linda S. on National Wildlife Federation’s Facebook wall
The Bison are Released
“By restoring wild bison to tribal lands, we’re also restoring a landscape, a habitat, one that supports a plethora of wildlife. Simultaneously, we’re helping to re-establish Native peoples’ cultural and historic connections to wildlife and the land.” ~Garrit Voggesser, NWF’s National Director, Tribal Partnerships. “The thunder of bison on the move is a huge victory. After more than two decades of work, the National Wildlife Federation and our tribal partners are celebrating the return of an iconic wildlife species to the Great Plains. The return of these wild bison to tribal lands fills a big gap in the plains ecosystem and a longtime absence in Native American culture.” ~Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation president and CEO “After seven years of fighting, it’s nice to see them home. We’ll be able to quell people’s fears about them getting out (of the fences). A year from now, people will look and say, `Yeah, it does work.'”-Robbie Magnan, Fort Peck’s Fish and Game Department Director
The Pipe Ceremony
“This means everything to us. We’ve been separated from these majestic animals and now they’re here. We’re the buffalo people, tatanka oyate. Without the bison, none of us would be here.” ~Stoney Anketell, a member of the Fort Peck tribal executive board
Video of the Bison Release:
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