Interior Secretary Celebrates Transfer of National Bison Range from CSKT

On Saturday, the Salish and Kootenai tribes hosted U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet member, to help honor the tribes for the successful transfer of the National Bison Range in Moeise to tribal governance.

Secretary Haaland addressed the crowd gathered at CSKT College and looked at the history of the area.

“As we gather in the ancestral lands of the Salish, Shoshone, Crow and Cheyenne peoples, I can’t help but imagine what this region was like before European contact,” Secretary Haaland began. “Back when vast herds of buffalo roamed the plains at the foot of the mountains, when our native ancestors lived on this land alongside the plethora of animals, and they each respected their place in the balance of nature. “

Secretary Haaland reflected on the tragic history of the past 200 years, then celebrated the present.

“We all know that history took a tragic and brutal turn after that,” she said. “Indigenous peoples were forcibly colonized and assimilated and the buffalo were driven within an inch of extinction. With the loss of tribal homelands and the depletion of buffalo herds, the plains tribes lost their traditional ties to this beautiful animal. But despite this tragedy and this loss, we are still here. You’re still here. And that’s something to celebrate.

She then focused on the accomplishments of those who made the transfer of authority over the Bison Range possible.

“Today’s celebration is the culmination of the resilience of Indigenous peoples, conservation efforts guided by Indigenous knowledge, and the Biden Harris administration’s commitment to honoring our trust, responsibility and treaty obligations. to the Indian tribes of our country,” she said. “When our wildlife management and conservation efforts are guided by indigenous knowledge, developed over millennia, we all succeed.”

Secretary Haaland said the tribes should rightly celebrate the return of the buffalo range to CSKT rule.

Also in attendance was Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras, representing the state of Montana and the governor’s office.

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