Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in Great Plains Research 11:1 (Spring 2001). Copyright © 2001 Center for Great Plains Studies.


In January 1997 the National Wildlife Federation and the InterTribal Bison Cooperative signed a memorandum of understanding formally recognizing our common goals of ending the slaughter of Yellowstone bison and working to repatriate buffalo to Native American reservations. It was the first time a formal relationship had ever been established between Native Americans and a national conservation organization. The partnership had two goals. The first goal was to reestablish management of North American bison as one of the premier wildlife species of the West, by restoring bison to those tribal and public land habitats capable of supporting their long-term survival. The second goal was to enhance the availability of wild bison to Native Americans for cultural and subsistence uses. Our partnership has been a rallying point for bison advocates and illustrates the importance of repatriating bison to tribal lands.

The partnership also presented opportunities for Native Americans to demonstrate their management capabilities and to affirm the importance of bison to the health of Indian people and the vitality of their culture. Our work together has opened up many new conservation avenues. One example is the National Wildlife Federation's recent involvement with the newly established InterTribal Prairie Ecosystem Restoration Consortium, assisting with the development of prairie dog management plans on Indian reservations. Here we summarize the results of our partnership and look to the future of conservation and restoration of natural resources on tribal lands.