A herd of bison roam on the Fort Peck Reservation near Poplar, Montana.

A herd of bison roam on the Fort Peck Reservation near Poplar, Montana.

Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation signs the Buffalo Treaty near Browning, Montana.

Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Nation signs the Buffalo Treaty near Browning, Montana.

Bison Bring-Back

Posted: January 1, 2015

Take a look at those huge, curly horns! Can you imagine stopping one of these burly beasts at the Canadian/U.S. border? That would be crazy! Bison used to roam freely between the two countries. But many of them have been moved away. People were worried they would steal grass from nearby cows. Or they might do worse—spread disease.

To you, these bison may look like huge, humpbacked, fuzzy cows. But to many Native Americans, bison are a way of life. At least, they used to be. More than a hundred years ago, Native Americans hunted bison. They sang songs about the animals. They carved bison-shaped totem poles.

Back in those days, bison were everywhere across North America. There were tens of millions! Then too many people hunted them. They wanted their hides to sell. Suddenly, something that used to be everywhere was nowhere. That wasn’t just bad news for the bison. It was bad news for the Native Americans, too. When bison disappeared, so did an important part of their culture, their lands, and their way of life.

That’s why Native Americans in the United States and Canada signed a new treaty. They agreed to share hunting ground. Will they be able to bring bison back to the area? They might, but it will take a long time.