Indigenous People Have Reclaimed the National Bison Range
After 113 years of fighting the U.S. government and systemic racism, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are once again managing 18,800 acres of wildlands, and its resident bison herd.
In December, a bipartisan bill that would transfer the lands and management of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes looked as if it might die in Congress with the end of the session.
Instead, it was attached to a must-pass package of COVID-19 relief and government spending bills, and, unexpectedly, it passed. After a century of work, it felt sudden, said Morigeau, a tribal member and attorney for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and a Montana state legislator. “It happened so fast, it just really hasn’t sunk in.”
Finally, after 113 years, the 18,800 acres of grassland, woodland, and wildlife that comprise the National Bison Range, along with its resident bison herd, will be returned to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Today, the transfer has broad support from the community, conservation groups and politicians alike. But the long journey included three rounds of failed agreements between the U.S. and the tribe, numerous lawsuits, a federal investigation, and a massive public education campaign to quash racist rumors and stereotypes.
It comes at a time of a broader conversation on the return of land stewardship to tribal nations, with an Indigenous woman—Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo)—poised to oversee public-lands management as Interior secretary for the first time in history...
Read more: https://civileats.com/2021/02/03/indigenous-people-have-reclaimed-the-national-bison-range/
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