Restoring Bison to Tribal Lands
For more than two decades, the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Program has worked with tribes to bring wild bison back to their lands and cultures and restore this iconic American species back to its rightful home on the prairies.
National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap tribes, succeeded in convincing the state of Montana to transfer more than 60 bison back to tribal lands. On March 19, 2012, after more than a century away, wild bison were returned to roam the Great Plains in Montana.
In November 2014, we took another significant stride by restoring an additional 134 Yellowstone bison to the Fort Peck Reservation.
National Wildlife Federation's Work Protecting Wild Bison and Tribal Culture
In 1997, NWF signed a memorandum of understanding with the Intertribal Bison Cooperative, the first ever conservation agreement between an environmental organization and an inter-tribal group, to advocate for the return of wild bison to Tribal lands.
The political opposition to the return of the bison seemed insurmountable, as bison were seen as a threat to domestic livestock. Overcoming these challenges is a significant conservation milestone and opens the door to moving wild bison onto other large landscapes.
By bringing bison back to these reservations, we are revitalizing a landscape, habitat, and a diversity of wildlife, while also re-establishing Native Americans’ cultural and historic connections to wildlife and the land.