A first of its kind: Denver gifts over a dozen bison to tribal nations | Focus on Denver

More than a dozen bison from the Denver Mountain Park system were gifted to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and another to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Sedalia.

The gift is a first of its kind from the City and County of Denver to reintroduce the animals to their native homestead, while the gift also supports conservation efforts within tribal land, DPR officials said. 

“This donation is the result and culmination of a very long, storied history and relationship with the State of Colorado,” said Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Reggie Wassana in a news release. “The Tribes plan to use the donated bison as a cultural, conservation and educational resource, with the goal of locating the bison on our own tribal natural plains habitat.”

The bison come from two conservation herds managed by DPR through the Denver Mountain Park system at Genesse Park and Daniels Park. The herds are descendants from the last wild bison born in North America.

The herds were originally established by the City of Denver and Denver Zoo and moved into Genesee Park in 1914. They later expanded into Daniels Park 24 years later, according to DPR. 

In order to keep the herd at a healthy and sustainable size for the past 36 years, DPR has auctioned off some of its young bison through the annual Bison Auction at Genesse Park.

However, DPR announced the auction will no longer take place and will donate these bison to tribes across the country who are longing to to build and enhance conservation herds on tribal lands.

“Denver shares a common vision with our tribal partners to return and restore wild bison back to historical habitats and ancestral lands,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a release. 

“Bison restoration efforts teach us how to be better stewards of the land, improve prairie landscapes and ecosystems, ensure genetic diversity of the species, and ensure a legacy of cultural understanding.”

The donations of the surplus of bison will continue until at least 2030 as DPR works with its tribal partners, the Denver American Indian Commission, TBMC and InterTribal buffalo Council. 

“I’m deeply proud of our City’s effort to work with Tribes and the InterTribal Buffalo Council to ensure cultural and spiritual preservation,” said Denver City Councilwoman Jamie Torres.

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