The treaty brings in youth to carry the initiative into the future, provides for ongoing dialogue between the tribes and includes education for the general public.
The Northern Tribes Buffalo Treaty was signed on September 23 in Blackfeet territory in Browning, Montana, by the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Reservation, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation, according to a media release from the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped work out the document’s details.
The treaty establishes “intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S. and Canada,” the media release stated. The signing was an acknowledgement that these tribes and First Nations have more ability collectively than individually to undertake habitat restoration and boost the iconic animal’s numbers, both because of the area involved and resources and political influence that each tribe brings to the table.
In an op-ed on LiveScience.com, Leroy Little Bear, University of Lethbridge and Blood Tribe; Ervin Carlson, Blackfeet Nation, Intertribal Buffalo Council; Angela Grier, Piikani Tribal Council, Chief Earl Old Person, Blackfeet Nation, National Mammal Campaign and Tribal Council; and Tommy Christian of the Fort Peck Tribal Council outlined the treaty’s underpinnings, the tribes’ vision and what will be done to implement the provisions in the document.
“More than any other species, the buffalo—American bison, or iiniiwa in Blackfoot—linked Native people to the land, provided food and shelter, and became a central figure in our ancient cultures,” wrote the tribal experts on LiveScience.com. “Following the great slaughter of the 19th century, the buffalo has been missing from most of these lands and our cultures. There is growing recognition that the absence of buffalo has led to deterioration of the ecological integrity of grasslands, diminished the health of our people, and led to an incalculable cultural loss.”
Engaging with researchers and partners in federal, state and provincial governments; farmers and ranchers; conservation groups; and Native American youth is a key component, the tribal experts said. Doing so also serves the dual purpose of practicing conservation and preserving Native culture, they said.
“We propose that this historic buffalo treaty will be but a first step, begun by Native people, to create a national agenda to bring buffalo home and enable an important healing for the egregious treatment buffalo received at the turn of the 19th century,” the tribal members wrote.
The slaughter of the buffalo is well known in Indian country, cutting off as it did tribes’ way of life.
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/25/bringing-back-bison-us-tribes-and-canada-first-nations-join-forces-sign-treaty-157054