Dear Tribal Leader,

Tac ha'laaxp (good afternoon), I am James Holt Sr., Executive Director for Buffalo Field Campaign (Campaign). On behalf of the Campaign, I would like to share with you the package of recommendations we shared with President Joe Biden.

Letter to President Biden (PDF)
Recommendations to President Biden (PDF)
Memo to President Biden (PDF)
American Bison and Climate Change Graphic (PDF)

2021 02 12 01 001 tribal letter

Founded in science and principled in equitable governance, the Campaign provided these priorities to fix the faulty systems governing wild, migratory, Yellowstone bison. These recommendations must be swiftly implemented to appropriately honor buffalo as a keystone species, and improve the environmental health of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. As an enrolled tribal member with treaty-reserved hunting rights to Yellowstone bison and a former tribal council member, I understand the diverse relationships that provide for our indigenous spiritual, ceremonial, subsistence, and treaty lifeways. Therefore, it is my honor to share our recommendations with leadership across Indian Country.

Our Campaign priorities reflect a holistic approach to Yellowstone bison and ecosystem management that provides for the needs of wild bison, builds resilience against the harmful impacts of climate change and habitat degradation, protects the rights of the treaty tribes, and would bolster the long-term capacity of on-reservation, bison restoration. During these turbulent times, wild bison and our Mother Earth need advocates from Indian country. Together we can do more.

A primary recommendation is reinforcing federal jurisdiction and authority for Yellowstone bison as public trust wildlife on federal lands. Our science policy recommendations provide for adjusting funding levels for prioritizing bison as wildlife, and reasserting federal responsibility for the well-being of native species in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is time our National Mammal is managed as respected wildlife by wildlife biologists, not as livestock by state and federal managers.

Our priorities also address the growing adverse impacts of climate change and habitat degradation, by building resilience into the land and recognizing the mutually dependent relationship among species for survival. With the nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland to the Secretary of the Interior, the critically-important Yellowstone Ecosystem is a prime candidate for acting on President Biden’s 30 by 30 Initiative to protect 30% of our natural world by 2030 thereby limiting climate change impacts, halting habitat loss, and reversing the global species extinction crisis.

The Campaign’s recommendations strive to halt state and federal actions that are forcibly domesticating Yellowstone bison, and recognize the trust responsibility to tribes with a seat at the co-management table. The only continuously-wild herd of bison in the lower 48 states deserves more, and we provide a holistic framework for tribes to co-create policy, science, and provisions for securing a prosperous future for our brother buffalo. Reviving the government-to-government relationship between the United States and treaty tribes with increased consultation is necessary to rebuild trust, foster equity, and fulfill the national trust duties owed to tribes.

Qeciyewyew (thank you) for considering acting upon these recommendations on behalf of wild, migratory bison in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Buffalo Field Campaign looks forward to working with tribes as we fulfill our sacred duty to bison and the natural world. Please feel free to contact me to discuss these recommendations. I appreciate your time and attention.

For the Buffalo,

bfc james holt signature

James Holt
Executive Director, Buffalo Field Campaign