Denver Buffalo Transfer Sets Strong Precedent for Tribal Allyship

DENVER, Colo.  – The National Wildlife Federation applauded the leadership of the city of Denver’s in its transfer of 33 buffalo to three Tribal nations. The Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming received 15 buffalo, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma received 17 and Tall Bull Memorial Council in Colorado received one. 

“Restoring buffalo to Tribal lands is a movement that we cannot achieve alone. It’s through partnerships and collaborative efforts like this release that solidify the importance of buffalo to Tribes and demonstrate allyship to uplift our cultural, spiritual and environmental values,” said Jason Baldes, Tribal buffalo program manager for the National Wildlife Federation and board member of the InterTribal Buffalo Council. “I look forward to a future where we collectively embrace this shift in how we view buffalo and work with Tribes to restore these animals to their historical homelands.”

“For over a century now, Denver has been the proud caretaker of these Bison herds, and we remain committed to their conservation as an integral part of the ecosystem here in the West,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We’re taking that commitment to a new level, and through this effort with our tribal partners, this is an opportunity to help establish, support, and sustain Native American conservation herds across the country.”   

Denver Parks and Recreation previously sold off young buffalo from their Genesee Park and Daniels Park conservation herds during an annual auction. This kept the herd at a healthy population size and promoted genetic diversity within the managed population. From now on, the city will work with Indigenous partners to select Tribes across the country to receive buffalo to build and enhance conservation herds on Tribal lands.

“The bison is not only a vital link to our past as Northern Arapaho, it is essential to our future as we restore this important part of our culture and heritage,” said Elma Brown, interim CEO of the Northern Arapaho Tribe. “I am honored to participate in this bison transfer and look forward to these beautiful animals joining our existing herd and returning to the home of their ancestors on the Wind River Reservation.” 

“The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are pleased to continue the growth of our historical food source. The Denver Mountain Parks Bison are a shot in the arm for our tribal nations. We wish Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver City Council and Denver Parks and Recreation staff a very gracious Hohóú/Né-á’eše (thank you),” stated Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana.

The National Wildlife Federation has collaborated with Tribes for years to facilitate partnerships between private, nonprofit and government entities to continue restoring buffalo to Tribal lands. This includes advocating for policy like the Indian Buffalo Management Act that would establish a permanent program within the U.S. Department of the Interior to develop and promote Tribal ownership and management of buffalo and their habitat on Tribal lands. 

Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Partnerships Program. 


Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates