In the Lakota creation story, beings emerged from the Wind Cave in South Dakota’s Black Hills—some in human form and some in buffalo form. There’s no difference between people and buffalo in this worldview.
“We’re Lakota people and that means we’re buffalo people,” said Wizipan Little Elk, the CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “They’ve always taken care of us and we need to take care of them.”
And the Rosebud Sioux tribe will do just that with the commitment of 28,000 acres of native grassland for the creation of a new plains bison herd. With a capacity to support 1,500 animals, the Wolakota Buffalo Range will become North America’s largest Native American owned and managed bison herd.
The project is being advanced by a partnership between REDCO and WWF with support from Tribal Land Enterprise, the Rosebud Sioux Tribes land management corporation, and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Over the next five years, the Department of Interior will send hundreds of bison over to the newly created space from federally managed herds. The historic project will increase the overall number of Native American owned bison by an impressive 7% nationally.
“We see it as a point of pride,” Wizipan Little Elk said. “That we can have the largest native managed and owned buffalo herd. We can show that socially impactful, socially responsible business with multiple bottom lines can work and that it creates multiple positive impacts locally and globally.”