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Bison spread as Native American tribes reclaim stewardship

Toby Brusseau
AP Photo
T.J. Heinert, assistant range manager of Wolakota Buffalo Range, takes aim to shoot a buffalo at the range near Spring Creek, S.D. on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.

From South Dakota and Oklahoma to Alaska and Alberta, Indigenous groups in the U.S. and Canada are leading efforts to restore bison across North America more than a century after European settlers drove the species near extinction.

Tribes now have a collective 20,000 bison and that’s been growing steadily along with a desire among many Native Americans to reclaim stewardship of an animal their predecessors lived alongside and depended upon for millennia.

The long-term dream for many: return bison, also known as buffalo, on a scale rivaling the tens of millions that once roamed the continent in thundering herds that shaped the landscape itself.