WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act (H.R. 2074) is a historic win for Tribal sovereignty, wildlife management and collaboration among Tribal, federal, and conservation partners. Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and co-sponsored by 14 representatives, the bill will establish a permanent program within the Department of the Interior to develop and promote Tribal ownership and management of buffalo and their habitat on Tribal lands.
“This is a very important step in the federal Trust Responsibility to Tribes working in buffalo restoration and management. Since time immemorial Indigenous Peoples have managed wildlife, including buffalo herds, and rely on knowledge systems still important to our unique and diverse cultures,” said Jason Baldes, the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal buffalo program manager and board member for the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council. “The Indian Buffalo Management Act affirms our Tribal self-determination and sovereignty, and will provide the needed resources to bring back buffalo back to Tribal lands for cultural and ecological restoration.”
The Indian Buffalo Management Act and its Senate companion will require the Interior Department to enter into contracts, award grants and provide technical assistance to Tribes and Tribal organizations for activities related to buffalo restoration or management. It also requires consultation with Tribal representatives on initiatives that affect buffalo or buffalo habitat, including efforts to contain or eradicate diseased buffalo and develop a policy relating to buffalo habitat management activities on Tribal lands. Additionally, it allows the Interior Department to enter into agreements with Tribes or Tribal organizations to transport surplus buffalo from federal land to Tribal land.
The 14 House cosponsors include:
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