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Restoring buffalo while healing the Blackfeet Nation: A new initiative aims to do both

FILE - Bison awaiting transfer to Native American tribes walk in a herd inside a corral at Badlands National Park, on Oct. 13, 2022, near Wall, S.D. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday is expected to announce a secretarial order that's meant to help more tribes establish bison herds, along with $25 million in federal spending for such efforts. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown,File)
Matthew Brown
/
AP
FILE - Bison awaiting transfer to Native American tribes walk in a herd inside a corral at Badlands National Park, on Oct. 13, 2022, near Wall, S.D. U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Friday is expected to announce a secretarial order that's meant to help more tribes establish bison herds, along with $25 million in federal spending for such efforts.

At one time, millions of buffalo covered over 30 million acres of landscape that stretches through the U.S. and into Canada. That was before these giant animals were hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s.

Now many people are coming together to try to return the buffalo to Blackfoot lands and all the way into Glacier National Park. It’s called the Iinnii Initiative and it’s no ordinary conservation project. This reintroduction is being led by The Blackfeet Nation and it’s as much about healing the people as it is healing the animals and the land.

Dr. Libby Lunstrum supports the project through her research. She is a Professor of Environmental Studies and Global Studies and the Research Director of Boise State University’s School of Public Service. She’ll be speaking about National Parks After Dispossession: The Return of Buffalo on March 13 at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Boise.

She joined Idaho Matters to talk about the Initiative and this new model of conservation.

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