Inhofe co-sponsors bipartite Indian buffalo management law
Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, joined several of his colleagues in presenting a Senate version of the Indian Buffalo Management Act.
The bill would create a permanent buffalo restoration and management program within the US Department of the Interior. The other sponsors are Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Democratic Senators Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and Tina Smith of Minnesota.
“The American buffalo is more than the state animal of Oklahoma – it is a respected and honored resource for Native American communities in Oklahoma and across the country,” Inhofe said in a statement. “I am proud to co-sponsor the Indian Buffalo Management Act, which will allow tribes to manage the buffalo population, conserve habitats and restore cultural ties with the American buffalo.”
Buffalo programs have received piecemeal federal funding since the 1990s. Intertribal Buffalo Council President Ervin Carlson reminded a House committee last February that the military had systematically eliminated bison for eliminate the Indians in the early 1800s.
“The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 guaranteed tribes access to bison as long as the bison could move. Unfortunately, like many other treaty provisions, the federal government broke that promise. However, the passage of the Indian Buffalo Management Act provides an opportunity for the federal government to honor this provision of the treaty, ”Carlson said.
Carlson told the same committee that ITBC has 69 member tribes trying to share any funding the federal government can muster.
“It’s a very small amount where they can do very little year over year with their programs. So with this bill and the addition, it could take the tribes to a higher level, I guess, to be self-sufficient and build their herds and their infrastructure, ”Carlson said.
The Cherokee Nation is a member of the ITBC, and Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement he was grateful to Inhofe for agreeing to co-sponsor the legislation.
“We are committed to re-establishing our oral and cultural traditions that were once handed down regularly between generations and therefore we want to ensure that our buffalo herd has long-term viability. The Indian Buffalo Management Act is a big step in that direction. “said Hoskin. .
US officials from Oklahoma Markwayne Mullin, Tom Cole and Stephanie Bice are the sponsors of a house version of the bill.
The ITBC member tribes have a collective herd of over 20,000 buffaloes.
The North American buffalo population grew from over 30 million in the early 1800s to around 500 by the early 20th century.