Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Native American Lawmakers Seek Federal Help On Montana Bison

Three bison walk through deep snow at Yellowstone National Park.
National Park Service
Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Three bison walk through deep snow at Yellowstone National Park.

Native American lawmakers are asking the Biden administration to craft a federal plan to reintroduce wild bison to areas in and around Glacier National Park and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

Eight Democratic members of Montana’s American Indian Caucus wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland calling for bison restoration assistance.

“It's crazy that you'd be thinking that the government at the federal level, instead of at the state level, would have more open opportunities right now. But we feel as a Native American Caucus of the state of Montana, that that is the direction we need to be going right now due to the political atmosphere of the state,” says Tyson Running Wolf, a Blackfeet tribal member and Democratic House Representative from Browning.

Running Wolf says the Caucus has been working on the letter for a while, but felt more urgency after Gov. Greg Gianforte scrapped a statewide bison management plan last week. Running Wolf says tribal nation leaders were not consulted in the decision.

“Caught all of us off guard, especially the Native Caucus. We're sitting right in the same house as the governor. We're a doorstep away and no one let us know that this was coming down,” Running Wolf says.

Signing members of the Caucus are asking to start a dialogue with the Biden Administration about bison, which hold “enormous cultural, spiritual and economic significance to Tribes.”

“In the United States, Montana has one of the biggest Native caucus groups that is in the legislature. And we feel that our letter will be very powerful and strong to help get wild bison back on the landscape," Running Wolf says.

Kaitlyn Nicholas covers tribal news in Montana.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.