This week, dignitaries from U.S. Tribes and Canadian First Nations signed a treaty-the first among them in more than 150 years-to establish intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S. and Canada.
This historic signing of the “Northern Tribes Buffalo treaty” occurred in Blackfeet territory in Browning, Montana, and brought together members of the Blackfeet Nation, Blood Tribe, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck Indian Reservation, the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indian Reservation, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation.
Collectively, the Tribes/ First Nations have more resources and political influence than they might individually. The groups own and manage a vast amount of grassland and prairie habitats-about 6.3 million acres; almost three times the size of Yellowstone National Park — throughout the United States and Canada.
Through their combined voice and a formal expression of political unity, their goal is to achieve ecological restoration of the buffalo on their respective lands, and in so doing to re-affirm and strengthen ties that formed the basis for traditions thousands of years old. Along with agreeing to work together for bison restoration and grassland conservation on tribal lands, the treaty encourages youth education and cultural restoration among the tribes.
The treaty is an ancient and enduring way of forming agreements between plains tribes. Although treaty has been a traditional practice for Native Americans for thousands of years, an intertribal peace treaty of this nature has not been signed among these tribes for more than 150 years. The last peace treaty signed by these tribes, The Lame Bull Treaty of 1855, established a large common hunting ground and focused on preserving their cultures and ways of life.
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