Sunday, September 28, 2014

Native American Tribes from United States and Canada Sign a Treaty to Restore Bison to Its Former Range

Bison grazing at Montana's National Bison Range

The Native American tribes of U.S and Canada have recently signed a treaty that would restore the bison to its former range, which includes 6.3 million acres of prairie grasslands in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains under the tribes' shared control. A media release from the Wildlife Conservation Society indicated that this treaty, known as the Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty, was signed on September 23 in the town of Browning, Montana by the following tribes: the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Reservation, Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Piikani Nation, Siksika Nation, and Tsuu T'ina Nation. In addition, the media release stated that the treaty confirms "intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of the American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S and Canada." The Wildlife Conservation Society also helped complete the document's details. Furthermore, the signing acknowledged that these tribes and First Nations have more ability cooperatively than individually to engage in restoring habitat and increase the bison's numbers. In an op-ed on, five tribal experts laid out the treaty's basis, the tribes' vision, and what will be done to enforce the provisions in the document. They included Angela Grier of the Piikani Tribal Council, Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation, Ervin Carlson of the Intertribal Buffalo Council, Leroy Little Bear of the Blood Tribe and University of Lethbridge, and Tommy Christian of the Fort Peck Tribal Council. They indicated that the key component in restoring the bison would be to engage with conservation groups; researchers and allies in federal, provincial, and state governments; farmers and ranchers; and Native American youth. This would also serve as a dual purpose of undertaking conservation and preserving the Native American culture.

It is amazing to see what the Native American people of U.S and Canada strive to do, in order to bring the bison back to its former range. The American bison, nicknamed "buffalo", has played an important role in the lives and cultures of Native American tribes in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of North America. The animal was and is still considered a major source of food for tribes living in the regions. In addition, it also played an important role in the daily lives of these tribes. For example, its hide was used to make war shields and covers for their tipis, bones were manufactured into weapons and utensils, and even the sinew was made into bowstrings. However, the bison is also a sacred animal and religious symbol. For thousands of years, Native American tribes in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains have relied on the bison as a source of food, lifestyle, and an object of worship. Unfortunately, when the early settlers arrived in North America, they heavily hunted the bison almost to the brink of extinction which not only affected the ecology of these regions but also robbed the Native Americans of their culture and way of life. In response, conservation efforts helped bring the bison back from extinction and now there is a plan to help further restore the species back to its former range. This process will be implemented through a teamwork between Native Americans and farmers, ranchers, conservation groups, researchers, and government officials. It will not only revive the bison population, but also further preserve the Native American culture.

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