Bison Restoration on the Blackfeet Nation
Issues: Wild Lands, Wildlife
Partners: Blackfeet Nation, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Iinnii Initiative, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Airport Origin : Browning, MT
We flew with land and wildlife managers, Blackfeet Confederacy officials, and conservationists over a Northern Montana landscape that is central to Bison restoration efforts. We flew Chief Mountain, known as Ninaistako to the Blackfeet Indians, and the surrounding Blackfeet lands.
Chief Mountain transcends boundaries, half in Glacier National Park, half in the Blackfeet Reservation to the east, and just under 5 miles from the border that passes through the Peace Park in Canada. Chief Mountain holds great power and ancient knowledge. Use of the mountain for ritual and ceremonial purposes goes back thousands of years. It is a sacred area. Bison also hold immense cultural value to the Blackfeet tribes, having provided clothing, food, and being a foundation of spiritual and social practices. The species was nearly driven to extinction a century ago, leading "to the deterioration of ecological integrity, diminished Tribal and First Nations health, and an immense loss of culture. With the treaty and promotion of conservation, there can be a revitalization of the cultural and spiritual connection between the Tribes and the Bison," (NPS
The Blackfeet Nation is spearheading efforts to restore buffalo and re-establish a species central to their culture and the integrity of their lands.