The United States Department of Interior has returned a protected area back to the Indigenous tribes it once belonged to: the 18,800 acre National Bison Range located in the state of Montana.
“The establishment of the National Bison Range was an historic use of lands to preserve wildlife, but we must also acknowledge that this act reduced the Salish and Kootenai peoples’ homeland by thousands of acres,” says Bryan Newland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs. “The return of these lands back to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is truly a significant milestone in their relationship with the Interior Department and the United States.”
The National Bison Range was set in 1908 to save bison from extinction. This restitution is part of the government’s quest to restore ancestral lands to their native owners. The transfer will be issued from the Bureau of Interior to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, specifically to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. Native lands will also be transferred to Hawaii and Alaska.