Red Sleep Mountain Range Returned to Flathead Reservation

Red Sleep Mountain Range Returned to Flathead Reservation

Long in the works, the 250 to 300 buffalo that live on this refuge as well as the National Bison Range itself have been turned over to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as of Dec. 27, 2021, when President Donald Trump signed it into law. These tribes have strong historical, geographic and cultural ties to the land and the bison. Credit Ryan Hagerty, US FWS.

On Dec. 27, President Donald Trump signed into law an act that returns “all land comprising the National Bison Range including all natural resources interests and appurtenances of that land to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).”

The Act further states that this restored land shall be a part of the Flathead Indian Reservation, administered as tribal trust land and managed by the Tribes. This includes all bison on the range, as well as all buildings and structures located on the land.

 The law establishes a 2-year transition period, during which the Secretary will cooperate with the Tribes in transition activities regarding the management of land, bison, and other resources. This includes providing to the Tribes, as determined appropriate by the Secretary, funds, personal property, equipment, or other resources.

 The range has been transferred to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). Red Sleep Mountain is the historic name of the mountain which contains the National Bison Range and its one-way tourist auto route over the Red Sleep Mountain.

 The local Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai people convey how important the buffalo is to their traditional way of life. Today, the Tribe keeps their culture vibrant and alive with an annual River Honoring, Pow Wows, Native language schools, active cultural committees, and a tribal museum at the People’s Center.

“The CSKT have strong and deep historical, geographic and cultural ties to the land and the bison, and their environmental professionals have been leaders in natural resources and wildlife management for many decades,” Interior Assistant Secretary Tara Katuk Sweeney wrote in her statement. “Interior is pleased to continue its partnership and work with them on the restoration of the (National Bison Range) to federal trust ownership for the Tribes.”

Tribal Chairwoman Shelly Fyant said the transfer returned care of the bison to the people who had made it a mainstay of their culture, the Missoulian reported.

It was included as part of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act, co-sponsored by all three members of Montana’s congressional delegation: Senators Steve Daines (R) and JonTester (D) and Rep (now Gov.) Greg Gianforte (R).

That act also settled a long-standing treaty negotiation that gave the CSKT rights to major water resources inside the Flathead Indian Reservation in return for releasing claims on more than 10,000 water rights outside its boundaries.

“The restoration of this land is a great historic event and we worked hard to reach this point,” Fyant said.

“This comes after a century of being separated from the buffalo and the Bison Range, and after a quarter-century-long effort to co-manage the refuge with the FWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).”

CSKT spokesman Robert McDonald said the public would see little change on the 18,800-acre wildlife refuge covering Red Sleep Mountain south of Pablo.

The Tribal Council agreed to continue following the conservation plan developed by FWS that controls how the refuge is managed for wildlife and the public.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is still in place,” McDonald said on Friday. “The Tribal Council is in regular contact with them, and we’re working on an agreement for how things will progress and operate in the future.

“There are a lot of questions about staffing, positions, what should be added or remain—things like maintenance crews, biologists, people in the gift shop and cultural interpretation. We’re in the early process of hashing out how it’s going to go.”

McDonald said the mission of the refuge to be a publicly accessible landscape focused on preserving wild bison would not change.

On Thursday, CSKT officials announced they were replacing federal regulations governing hunting, fishing and recreation on the refuge with an essentially identical set of rules authorized by the Tribes.

The replaced regulations include rules governing user fees to enter the refuge, prohibition of fireworks, weapons or explosives except under authorized circumstances, prohibition of hunting or taking of resources from the refuge except as authorized, and use of motorized vehicles.

McDonald said the exceptions would apply to actions previously allowed by FWS. Boy Scout troops, for instance, have been allowed to gather shed elk antlers and biologists have conducted studies involving capturing or occasionally killing specimen wildlife. Those exceptions would continue under tribal management, he said.

The original herd of bison released in 1909 was purchased with private money raised by the American Bison Society and then donated to the Refuge.

Today, 250-300 bison live on this refuge. To keep track of herd health, the Refuge conducts an annual Bison capture. And to ensure the herd is in balance with their habitat, surplus bison are donated and/or sold live, according to the US Fish and Wildlife.

(ORDER NO. 3390 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management to the Bureau of lndian Affairs and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.)

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

USDA Bison Meat Purchases Top $20 million In Past Four Years

USDA Bison Meat Purchases Top $20 million In Past Four Years

Native American children really enjoy the taste of Bison and the connection it gives them to their cultural heritage. There are many health benefits associated with eating bison meat,” says Dianne Amiotte-Seidel, project director/marketing coordinator for the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

USDA’s annual purchase of ground bison meat for utilization in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations has topped $20 million, according to information provided to the National Bison Association this week by the agency’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) now offers traditional foods including bison, blue cornmeal, wild rice, wild salmon and catfish.

A purchasing summary this week documents that the agency has purchased 2.5 million lbs. of ground bison for a total of $21.4 million from fiscal year 2017 through fiscal year 2020.

The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations provides USDA Foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations and to Native American households residing in designated areas near reservations or in Oklahoma. USDA distributes both food and administrative funds to participating Indian Tribal Organizations and state agencies to operate FDPIR.

By introducing buffalo meat at 13 tribal schools, one company has been able to show students the health benefits while further connecting them with their cultural heritage.

A growing number of tribal communities are reconnecting children with their rich history and culture by establishing farm-to-school programs. In doing so, tribes are integrating traditional foods—like bison—into child nutrition programs.

Rich in flavor, low in fat and high in protein, buffalo meat is a good substitute for beef. It has significantly more iron with higher levels of vitamins and minerals and twice as much beta carotene as strictly grain-fed meats.

“There are many health benefits associated with eating bison meat,” says Dianne Amiotte-Seidel, project director/marketing coordinator for the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC), who has spent nearly her entire professional career working to bring buffalo meat into tribal schools. “Plus, the taste is delicious and it’s a very versatile protein.”

Last year, ITBC, based in Rapid City, S.D., received a three-year Administration for Native Americans Grant to decrease the risk of diabetes by the incorporation of buffalo meat into children’s diets. ITBC also received a one-year USDA Farm to School Grant to assist schools on Indian reservations in South Dakota with the goal of procuring buffalo meat and fresh produce for their school lunch program, developing school gardens and developing educational curriculum.

“Once we had the grants, we began conducting onsite visits with 33 schools and the nine corresponding tribes to determine their ability to incorporate locally raised buffalo meat into school lunch programs,” says Amiotte-Seidel. “The assessments included the tribe’s and school’s infrastructure (cold storage, corrals, etc.), available buffalo, staff training levels and local support.”

Ultimately, 13 schools were able to participate in the program, and the results have been nearly all positive. But there have been a number of challenges—from supply to slaughter to prep methods to education—for ITBC to overcome.

“Many reservations are located in rural and remote areas with existing food systems challenged by a lack of infrastructure,” says Amoitte-Seidel. “But we’ve worked hard to sort these problems out and improve the chain to make access more feasible.”

After working closely with the USDA, Amoitte-Seidel was able to get approval for state-run slaughter houses to process the buffalo from local tribes for use in the schools.

“In many cases, there is no access to USDA plants near these reservations,” she explains. “Lower Brule (S.D.) Sioux Tribe had been transporting their bison four hours away to Sturgis to have it processed, then it had to be transported back. It was inefficient and complicated. Being able to use a state-run slaughter house closer to the reservation will make access easier for the schools currently participating and for others who would like to start.”

Another challenge Amoitte-Seidel has successfully overcome has been training the school nutrition professionals in the cafeterias about how to prepare the meat and talk with the students about its significance.

“Because buffalo meat is lower in fat, it cooks differently than traditional beef,” she says. “But we have held trainings for cooks, managers and superintendents where they come together, learn recipes and ways to prepare it properly and network with one another to share ideas and recipes.”

Education has been a key piece of the puzzle. It starts with arming the schools’ foodservice professional with knowledge about the tribe’s buffalo heritage, which they can relate to students and other staff. Then, once they’re comfortable cooking it, they incorporate it into menus where it best fits.

And at Flandreau (S.D.) Indian Schools, students were given the option of a beef patty or a bison patty. Many who were familiar with bison opted for that. Staff also experimented with the placement of meat on the hot line, but what they discovered was the more students learned about the health benefits and the history behind their tribe and buffalo meat, they were more likely to try it.

“St. Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Indian Reservation downplayed their use of bison to students in order to have a seamless transition,” says Amoitte-Seidel. “The cooks simply substituted buffalo meat for beef in spaghetti, chili, sloppy Joes and soup. When they explained to students that they were using the bison, the students were surprised and excited. Many commented on how buffalo is a rich part of their culture and that they couldn’t even taste the difference between buffalo and beef. They love the dishes are excited to continue trying new and different ones.”

Enemy Swim Day School (Waubay, S.D.), which serves Native American students in the Glacial Lakes region of northeast South Dakota, actually saw a reduction in food waste when it began incorporating buffalo meat into menus and it now serves the meat weekly.

And students at The Circle of Nation Boarding School (Wahpeton, N.D.) have enjoy the buffalo meat so much, they’ve requested it be on the menu more than once a week.

“The buffalo program has been a success on so many fronts,” says Amoitte-Seidel. “Students are really enjoying the taste of the bison and the connection it gives them to their cultural heritage.”

Newsletter, Joanna DeChellis, Feb 21, 2017

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

More Bison Join Island Herd

More Bison Join Island Herd

Bison have roamed Catalina Island off the coast of California since 1924. They have valuable Yellowstone Park genetics, but now with two new pregnant females have added more diversity. Courtesy Catalina Island Conservancy.

Bison have played a significant role in the cultural heritage of Catalina Island for nearly 100 years and will be roaming there freely far into the future.

Catalina Island Conservancy worked with the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation herd to bring two pregnant female bison to Catalina Island.

The new additions arrived in early December and will supplement the genetic diversity of the current bison herd on Catalina Island with the valuable genetics of heritage bison.

The herd—managed by Colorado State University, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Larimer County—was established with nine adult females and one male calf in November 2015.

It has now grown to over 100 bison, which has made it possible to share bison with tribal and conservation herds across the country.

The bison have valuable genetics from the Yellowstone National Park herd and, thanks to science implemented at CSU by Assistant Professor Jennifer Barfield and her team, the animals are also disease-free.

“We are proud to continue our mission of collaborating with conservationists through this new partnership with Catalina Island Conservancy,” said Barfield, a reproductive physiologist.

“We look forward to watching our animals find a new home with the herd on Catalina Island, where they can contribute to the growth of a truly unique and iconic herd.”

Bison have freely roamed Catalina Island since 1924.

Fourteen bison were brought to the island for the filming of an adaptation of a Zane Grey novel, believed to be “The Vanishing American.”

There are currently approximately 100 bison on Catalina Island, off the coast of California.

The new animals will integrate into Catalina Island’s free-ranging bison herd and are expected to give birth in the spring.

“With goals of maintaining the health of the land and providing public benefit, Catalina Island Conservancy maintains its three-part mission of conservation, education and recreation.

“The bison population is a key example of this delicate balance,” said Tony Budrovich, Conservancy president and CEO .

“The unique opportunity to see American bison on Catalina Island brings wildlife lovers from around the world to learn about a species they might otherwise not have a chance to see roam.

“While here, they also learn about Catalina’s endemic species, special Mediterranean climate and importance of conservation.”

With its location close to urban areas, Catalina provides a gateway to nature for a diverse population to experience and learn about wildlife and nature just steps away from home.

The best way to view bison is through a Conservancy Eco Tour.

Bison are wild animals. People should stay at least 125 feet away from bison at all times. Info Courtesy of Catalina Island Company

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

Wood Bison Reintroduced In Southwest Alaska See Another Year Of Loss, But With A Silver Lining

Wood Bison Reintroduced In Southwest Alaska See Another Year Of Loss, But With A Silver Lining

Wood buffalo in Alaska, ADF&Game

(From Alaska Public Radio)

An experimental wood bison herd introduced to the western Interior region five years ago experienced a decline this year due to harsh winter weather, but scientists say there’s still some good news.

According to a population survey conducted in June, there are 94 bison, including nine calves, in the population, which lives largely along the lower Yukon River. The population has declined by 19 animals since last year’s survey.

Biologist Tom Seaton attributes the decline to deep snow and cold temperatures late last winter in March and April. Bison need to eat grass to replenish the nutritional reserves they’ve depleted over the long winter, when layers of snow and ice prevented the animals from eating plants. Some could not survive.

The bison, which are native to the area, were reintroduced with enthusiastic local support in 2015. Since they were introduced, the population grew for three years and declined for two years. The declines align with harsh late winter conditions like those seen recently.

The good news is that the 2020 decline was less dramatic than the one in 2018, when there was a winter with similarly harsh conditions. That shows that the bison may be adapting to these conditions and learning to survive despite the challenging weather, said Seaton.

He said the bison have developed numerous skills since they were released from captivity: They’ve learned to navigate their range, avoid predators and find the best food.

Seaton says he sees the population as well-established at this point. And he expects that barring unusually harsh weather conditions, the population will continue to grow in the future.

Alaska News Nightly: Tues, Oct 20, 2020

Oct 21, KUAC

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

NBA reminds us “Save the Date!”

NBA reminds us “Save the Date!”

Dakota Territory Buffalo Association buffalo await Girlz Gone Wild auction in Rapid City. DTBA.

  • 12/05/2020 – Kansas Buffalo Association Annual Production Sale – KS
  • 12/05/2020 – Western Bison Association Meeting and Show/Sale – UT
  • 12/8/2020 – Northern Range Buffalo Simulcast Consignment Auction – SD
  • 12/19/2020 – North Dakota Buffalo Assn. Meeting/Simulcast Auction – ND
  • 1/02/2020 – Prairie Legends Bison Auction – NE
  • 1/08/2021 – Montana Bison Assn. Winter Conference – MT
  • 1/9/2021 – Turner Bison Exchange Prairie Performance Auction – SD
  • 2/19/2021 – NBA – DTBA Joint Winter Conference – Rapid City, SD/Online
  • 2/20/2021 – NBA GTSS & DTBA Girlz Going Wild Auction – Rapid City, SD/Online
  • 6/27/2021 – National Bison Assn. Summer Conference – Cheyenne, WY

Please visit the National Bison Association at  https://bisoncentral.com/calendar/ for details and more up-to-date events. If you have a bison event coming up that’s not listed, please send the details to jim@bisoncentral.com and the NBA will post the event on its website at no charge.

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

GTSS, NBA Winter Conference Rescheduled to Rapid City

GTSS, NBA Winter Conference Rescheduled to Rapid City

 

Meeting in special session in October, the National Bison Association Board of Directors approved committee recommendations to reschedule both the Gold Trophy Show & Sale, and the association’s Winter Conference until February 19 – 20, 2021.

Both events to be held in conjunction with the Dakota Territory Buffalo Association’s annual meeting and sale in Rapid City, SD.

In a unanimous vote, the board determined that the annual GTSS would be held at the Rapid City fairgrounds, in conjunction with DTBA’s performance tested yearling heifer auction. Under the agreement developed by the NBA and DTBA, GTSS animals would be transported to the fairgrounds on February 18th, and judged on February 19th

The NBA event will not include any yearling female entries in order not to conflict with DTBA’s performance-tested Girlz Going Wild yearling heifer sale. Animals from the NBA and DTBA will be housed at the Rapid City fairgrounds, but will be sold through a virtual, live-streamed video auction event. 

The NBA board also agreed to adopt a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DTBA to hold a two-day conference on February 19 and 20 at the Ramkota hotel in Rapid City.

The abbreviated conference will include virtual streaming for members who want to participate, but who do not want to attend in person.

The MOU specifies how each organization will share in the expenses and revenue from that meeting. The MOU had been recommended for approval by the NBA Winter Conference Planning Committee.

Following discussion on the issue, the board adopted a motion “to move forward with the Winter Conference Committees recommendation, and approve the Memorandum of Understanding, and that the NBA and its leadership implement appropriate steps to protect the health and safety of attendees.”

Look for details on both events to be announced in the coming weeks. https://bisoncentral.com

Francie M Berg

Author of the Buffalo Tales &Trails blog

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