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Red Lake Nation Welcomes New Buffalo Herd

Red Lake, Minn. — The National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Partnerships Program today announced a partnership with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to collaborate on bison restoration to the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota. The partnership leverages a memorandum of understanding with Wind Cave National park in South Dakota to provide disease-free, genetically-pure bison to the Red Lake Nation. The Tribe received six bison in September with additional bison to be provided by Wind Cave National Park in 2021. 

This transfer of bison to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will utilize 570 acres to grow their population in the years to come. The National Wildlife Federation will help with the herd management plan and provide guidance and consultation to ensure a successful and prolific population. 

“This is a historic occasion to celebrate the arrival and beginning of a prosperous buffalo herd and reconnection to our ancestral heritage,” said Cherilyn Spears, project coordinator for Red Lake Economic Development and Planning. “We are excited to be a part of this very important endeavor to revive the Buffalo Nation. I look forward to continued partnership with the National Wildlife Federation as we carry out and expand our management plan.” 

“Partnering with the Red Lake Nation to grow their own buffalo herd establishes our commitment to assist the Tribe in cultural and ecological restoration,” said Jason Baldes, tribal buffalo manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “Buffalo have long held a significant place in Tribal culture and reconnecting with buffalo is part of the healing and strengthening for generations to come.” 

Along with 69 Tribal Nations, the Red Lake Nation is a member of the Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC), an organization that has restored more than 20,000 bison to Tribal lands by partnering with the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana to distribute surplus bison from Yellowstone National Park. By joining in a partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and Wind Cave National Park, the Red Lake Nation will have greater opportunity to receive bison in addition to the surplus ITBC bison. 

During the last six years, the National Wildlife Federation has partnered with tribal governments and other partners to return more than 250 bison to tribal lands, ensuring tribal connections to bison for generations to come. By bringing bison back to reservations, we are revitalizing a landscape, habitat and a diversity of wildlife while re-establishing Native Americans’ cultural and historic connections to wildlife and the land.


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