[Note: This is the third in a series of blogs by Calvelli celebrating the history and conservation of the American Bison.]
Native American groups joined with bison producers and conservation organizations in 2012 to initiate a campaighad 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.n called Vote Bison. The campaign, which grew to include 35 coalition members across the nation,
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.
Bison numbered over 30 million at the time of the United States’ founding, but that number dwindled to a mere 1,000 with the westward expansion of the United States. The American Bison Society, founded at the Bronx Zoo with the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, helped to restore bison numbers with animals transported west by rail from the Bronx. In the next century, bison numbers rebounded to nearly half a million.
Today, more than 60 tribes are involved in bison restoration on Native American land in places like South Dakota, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, with a combined herd covering more than one million acres.