Shoshone Bannock Casino, Fort Hall Reservation November 4th-5th, 2023
“We pray the spirit of the Buffalo is with us today and all days going forward.”
- Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse
For immediate release: November 6, 2023
Fort Hall, Idaho - On National Bison Day, Buffalo Field Campaign invited the Yellowstone affiliated tribes to express their perspectives on shared Tribal stewardship of Yellowstone Buffalo. Delegates from 11 sovereign nations came together at this historic summit to discuss this matter of paramount importance. Many indigenous languages-- Shoshone, Ute, Crow, Arapahoe, Northern Cheyenne, Cree, Nez Perce, Lakota/Dakots, and English—were used to speak in solidarity on the sacredness and importance of buffalo to the people and ecosystems of Turtle Island (North America). Indigenous Buffalo lifeways have many different specific names and words related and center around the buffalo. We heard literally hundreds of words about and for the buffalo in nine different indigenous languages and English. The Buffalo unify people of all tribal nations in the name of a shared goal: restoring wild buffalo to heal people and land.
"The path Buffalo Field Campaign has chosen is to work with the tribes. We know that it will be Indigenous peoples who will step up to protect our relatives. We are honored to host the tribes and come together in song, dance and ceremony to honor the sacredness of Buffalo and our shared responsibility to them." - James Holt, BFC Executive Director
The Tribes in attendance shared generational experience, stories and history about what the Buffalo meant to their nations . They are a keystone species of ecology and culture—many beings depend on Buffalo to survive and thrive. In their own unique ways, each tribe expressed that their vitality, survival, and identity is inextricably tied to Wild Buffalo and their continued presence on the landscape. Spiritual nourishment and nutritional healing for Tribal people is obtained through continued relationships with Buffalo. It is evident, each tribe considers the buffalo a respected relative—sacred animals that guide Tribal Lifeways and revitalize ecosystems.
The summit had a specific focus on the Wild Yellowstone Herds and local restoration on reservations. The Tribes assembled, assert the right of these Wild Buffalo to freely roam into the 10 Million acres of public land in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. For decades, Federal and State mismanagement of the Yellowstone Herds have confined them within the arbitrary boundaries of Yellowstone National Park where Tribes have little access to hunt. The Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) is the failed government mechanism that maintains this destructive status quo. Tribal Stewardship, rather than government management, is necessary for the survival and health of free roaming Buffalo in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Tribal treaties and aboriginal connections retain rights to hunt, gather and fish on unclaimed or ceded land—this is the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the Constitution.
Buffalo Field Campaign urges any and all States, Federal Agencies, and NGO’s to join us standing in solidarity with the Tribes to protect the rights of free roaming wild buffalo in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.