Sixty four genetically pure bison arrived on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation this week, the Montana Associated Press reports.
Restoring the animal to the area was heralded by tribal members there, which long fought to move some of the herd from Yellowstone National Park.
The move didn’t come without contention. Ranchers in the area have long protested the move due to brucellosis and rangeland damage concerns.
But the Fort Peck Tribes and state government officials reach an agreement late last week to move the bison and wasted no time in transporting them Monday to the northeastern corner of the state.
Fort Peck Chairman Floyd Azure responded Monday night by saying that the state has no jurisdiction now that the bison are on the reservation.
“Now that they’re here, they are here to stay,” Azure said.
For the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck, tribal leaders said the relocation offers a chance to revive their connection with an animal that historically provided food, clothing and shelter for their ancestors.
The trip from Yellowstone was capped by a welcoming caravan of tribal members who fell into line behind the trailers that carried the bison across the Missouri River and onto the reservation.
A drum group gathered to sing a traditional song of welcome as the bison were unloaded in a field 25 miles north of Poplar.
“This has deep spiritual meaning for us. They are the sole survivors from our ancestors,” said Leland Spotted Bird, a Dakota tribal elder and spiritual leader.
Associated Press reporter Matt Volz has the full story.