While I’m not a gigantic fan of “rewilding”, per se, I remain a fan of the American Bison, and especially of the slow campaign by native tribes to reintroduce semi-wild Buffalo herds to large spaces. Beautiful animals, wild land, deep cultural significance So many things I appreciate.
Last month saw another step in this process, with the transfer of 80 some buffalo from long “exile” in Canada to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation near Browning, Montana. These animals are ancestors of a herd in that area that were moved to a park in Alberta 140 years ago. They are genetically “pure”, having never interbred with cattle. These an other relocated buffalo are replenishing the gene pool herds on reservations in Montana, and enlarging the population of this keystone species. Ideally, this will improve the entire ecosystem.
For the tribes involved, this is obviously far more significant that population genetics or even ecosystem restoration. Many native Americans feel a deep attachment to the Buffalo, which has always been entwined with their culture and identity as a people. Buffalo are sacred and represent the lost independence of the tribes. “Reintroduction of the buffalo to tribal lands will help heal the spirit of both the Indian people and the buffalo.”