A bipartisan group of U.S. House members rolled out legislation on Monday aimed at assisting Native American tribes in the protection and conservation of buffalo.
The Indian Buffalo Management Act of 2019 is sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Ark.), vice chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, along with caucus co-chairs Reps. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
“This [legislation] will allow the Pueblos of New Mexico to enhance exiting herds, start new herds, reintroduce buffalo into Native population diets and generate critical tribal revenue through marketing,” said Pueblo of Taos leadership in a statement.
American buffalo, a North American species of bison, once roamed freely across the United States, and served an important role for Native communities throughout North America.
Historically, bison were a reliable source of food, shelter, clothing, and economic mobility for Indigenous peoples across the American west. The decimation of the American buffalo that began in the mid-19th century significantly impacted the Native communities that depended on these majestic creatures.
The legislation would establish a program within the Interior Department to assist tribes and tribal groups with the protection, conservation, and fostering of buffalo herds.
The bill is supported by the 68 tribes in 18 states that are the members of the InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC), the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the American Bison Society, the National Bison Association, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund.