Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yellowstone Bison Relocation Receives Tribal Support

The Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation have prepared 4,800 acres in northeastern Montana for wild bison from Yellowstone National Park, but the idea is not popular with many of their neighbors. AP PHOTO/MICHAEL ALBANS
Meeting of Yellowstone Bison Relocation. Among the participants are members of Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.

It has been recently reported that a bison relocation hearing was held at Montana's Glasgow Civic Center. It was sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in a plan to relocate Yellowstone's bison into four areas of the state. These include two wildlife management areas, and two Indian reservations: Fort Peck and Fort Belknap. In 2005 and 2006, bison were captured while leaving the national park and were held at quarantined ranches near Bozeman. Even though the effort was met with overwhelming opposition, about forty tribal members and officials from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation lent their support. Among the supporters included Robbie Magnan, the Fort Peck's tribal buffalo ranch manager, who believed the plan would help the reservation's members to reconnect with their traditions and culture. Councilman Stoney Anketell added that the relocation would help distribute bison meat to more than 1,000 diabetics on the reservation. The tribes from each of the two reservations had established their own parcels for the animals. The Fort Peck Indian Reservation consists of a 4,800-acre plot, while Fort Belknap has an 800-acre pasture. The plan, though, was met with opposition from some local ranchers who were concerned about the containment issue. One of them was Ken Hanson, a rancher from Blaine County, who expressed his opposition regarding mismanagement, neglect, and overcrowding. Some like Jason Holt was upset that the decision was being made by a state commission instead of local residents.
File:American bison k5680-1.jpg
The American bison has been the major food source to Native Americans for generations.
This article, in my opinion, gives a clear representation about the significance of the relationship between the American bison and the Native American tribes. For generations, this iconic creature of the American West had played a major role in their culture and traditions. It has also been a major food source, particularly to the Plains tribes such as the ArapahoCheyenne, and the Sioux. These tribes were famous for pursuing bison on horseback, and literally galloping side-by-side with their prey before bringing it down with bows and arrows. This risky hunting technique has been glorified in all forms of images, and has become a quintessential picture of the Wild West. However, populations of bison plummeted tremendously upon the arrival of early settlers in North America. And since then, conservation efforts were made to help revive the populations. Places like the Yellowstone National Park has shown good numbers of bison. But in the past few years, some individuals moved out of the park in an attempt to recolonize their ancestral lands fueling concerns among local ranchers. This, in turn, has led to this meeting of ranchers, wildlife officials, and even Native American tribal officials in a debate of relocating the animals. During the meeting, David Ditloff of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), expressed his support of the relocation to the reservations and not state wildlife reserves due to high costs. I also happen to agree with this idea of relocating Yellowstone's bison onto the reservations. This would not only be a way for the Native Americans to reconnect with their roots, but also maintain the bison population of Yellowstone. These animals were a major food source to the tribes, and have been an integral part of their culture. I also believe that, as part of the effort, any bison destined to a reservation must be tested for brucellosis. While it is known that the disease causes abortion of the fetus, it is not known what effects it has to humans. This is why it is crucial to test the animals, regarding health concerns for both the bison and the people.

View article here

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