His­toric treaty will al­low buf­falo to roam free

Col­lec­tive agree­ment en­com­passes First Na­tions lands in Canada, U.S.

Calgary Herald - - CITY -

Dozens of First Na­tions lead­ers from across Canada and the United States were on hand this week in Banff to wit­ness the sign­ing of a land­mark treaty.

The Stoney Nakoda Na­tion signed the “Buf­falo Treaty” at the 2015 Banff In­dian Days and el­ders say it is a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment for mem­bers.

The Buf­falo Treaty is a col­lec­tive agree­ment to hon­our and rec­og­nize the re­la­tion­ship that First Na­tions have with the buf­falo and the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing free range habi­tat on tra­di­tional lands.

It is the first treaty in more than 150 years to be signed among U.S. tribes and Cana­dian First Na­tions.

Buf­falo were nearly wiped out in the 19th cen­tury and the ex­pan­sion of the hu­man pop­u­la­tion across the plains frag­mented the herds for more than a cen­tury.

The goal of the treaty is to re­store the buf­falo pop­u­la­tion on re­serve land, which makes up more than 2.6 mil­lion hectares across North Amer­ica.

“We hang on as best we can to our cul­ture, our pipes, our bun­dles, our lan­guage but we’re los­ing the con­text,” said Paulette Fox of south­ern Al­berta’s Blood Tribe.

“A lot of our cer­e­monies come from the buf­falo and with­out the buf­falo, with­out see­ing the buf­falo, di­rectly re­lat­ing to the buf­falo, it’s dif­fi­cult to re­ally pass on those teach­ings to our young peo­ple.”

“There’s very few op­por­tu­ni­ties left in North Amer­ica where we can put these an­i­mals back in their na­tive range and Banff is a huge op­por­tu­nity to do that,” said Wes Ol­son, a for­mer park war­den.

In March, Banff Na­tional Park signed on to be the first na­tional park to rein­tro­duce wild plains bi­son into the area.

Young buf­falo will be moved into a fenced area in Banff Na­tional Park over the next 18 months but the fences will be taken away once the an­i­mals are ac­cli­mated and then they’ll be al­lowed to roam freely af­ter that.

A lot of our cer­e­monies come from the buf­falo and with­out the buf­falo, with­out see­ing the buf­falo ... it’s dif­fi­cult to re­ally pass on those teach­ings to our young peo­ple.

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