Bison Return to ‘Buffalo People’

WORLD

This week, bison returned to Montana after 100 years in exile. It’s a story about connecting two countries and two cultures; connecting an ancient people to a vital traditional relationship with nature; connecting a missing species to an otherwise intact ecosystem; connecting people to a sustainable food source; connecting various tribes through a traditional alliance; and connecting youth to nature through a culturally significant symbol. (Nat Geo Voices blog)

Use our resources to learn more about this recovering symbol of the American West.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Isn’t this breathtaking? Classic Nat Geo photography by classic Nat Geo photographer Joel Sartore, courtesy the gorgeous landscape of South Dakota and a friendly herd of Bison bison—the bovid so nice they named it twice.

Isn’t this breathtaking? Classic Nat Geo photography by classic Nat Geo photographer Joel Sartore, courtesy the gorgeous landscape of South Dakota and a friendly herd of Bison bison—the bovid so nice they named it twice.

Discussion Ideas

 

  • Why are Blackfeet called the “Buffalo People”?
    • The Blackfeet Confederacy (the North Piegan, the South Piegan, the Blood, and the Siksika) have followed the migration of bison across the Northern Plains for more than 10,000 years. According to Nat Geo, bison, called iiniiwa in Blackfeet, “provide food, clothing, shelter, [and] . . . are also important in trade and fill the tribe’s spiritual needs.”

 

  • Today, there are about 500,000 bison in North America. Why is the repatriation of 90 calves such an important event? Read through the Nat Geo blog post and watch our video for some help.
    • Culture: The repatriation is an historic moment for the American Blackfeet nation. The calves are descendants from a Montana herd that was sold and moved to Canada about a hundred years ago. For the first time this century, the Blackfeet are going to have free-range bison on their 9,000-acre reservation.
    • Environment: Although bison have recovered rapidly since reaching near-extinction in the 19th century, only 15,000 are “home on the range,” or free-range. Most North American bison live on private lands as livestock.
    • Science: The Montana calves are purebred bison. Most bison raised as livestock—so, almost all bison—have been enhanced with cattle genes.

 

 

Love bison? Who doesn’t? Make it our national mammal by voting here.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: A Historic Return of Bison to the “Buffalo People”

Smithsonian: Genetically Pure Bison Will Return to Montana After 100 Years in Exile

Nat Geo: Bison and the WWF

Iinnii Initiative

Wildlife Conservation Society: Vote Bison!

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