Video courtesy of WWF
MISSION, S.D. — On Friday, 100 bison found a new home on the Wolakota Buffalo Range on the land of the Sicangu Oyate, commonly known as the Rosebud-Sioux Tribe.
The bison are the first of as many as 1,500 animals to set foot on the 28,000 acres of native grassland. This is considered the beginning of what will become North America’s largest Native-owned and managed bison herd.
The project is being advanced by a partnership between the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) and WWF with support from Tribal Land Enterprise, the Rosebud Sioux Tribes’ land management corporation, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Sicangu Oyate are revitalizing their relationship with bison to demonstrate the potential this creates for economic, ecological, and cultural resiliency, despite what’s happening in the world now like the pandemic and social unrest.
“The sacred relationship between Native nation communities and the buffalo is part of a shared story of strength, resilience and economic revitalization,” said Wizipan Little Elk, CEO, REDCO. “The arrival of the buffalo marks a new beginning for the Sicangu Oyate, where cultural, ecological, and economic priorities are equally celebrated and supported and are of great benefit to our community and serve as an example to the entire world.”
The WWF has invested more than $2.2 million over the past five years in bison restoration efforts with indigenous communities in the Northern Great Plains.
Additional bison will be delivered over the next five years as part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 2020 Bison Conservation Initiative, a 10-year plan announced in May.
“Today marks a long-overdue homecoming for these iconic animals,” said Carter Roberts, WWF president and CEO. “And it represents a reunion with the communities who lived with them for millennia in a symbiotic relationship—and who can now do so again. WWF was honored to partner with the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Department of the Interior to help make this day possible.”