Celebrating the Historic Ties of Native Americans to the Bison

March 1, 2013

More than 30 million bison roamed the United States at its founding, but the largest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere nearly went extinct as Americans expanded to the west. Writing for National Geographic NewsWatch, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, John Calvelli, discusses the ways in which Native American tribes (and WCS) have helped restore bison populations. 

Native American groups joined with bison producers and conservation organizations in 2012 to initiate a campaign called Vote Bison. The campaign, which grew to include 35 coalition members across the nation, had a simple goal: to urge all members of the U.S. Congress to support the National Bison Legacy Act, which would designate the American bison as our country’s National Mammal.

The Vote Bison campaign continues in 2013 and is currently working with Congressional champions in the 113th Congress. The participation of Native American tribes derives from cultural and spiritual connections to the American bison, or buffalo, spanning many centuries – one that is richly reflected in Native American historical and religious narratives.

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