As the US continues to grapple with the shameful and exploitative aspects of westward expansion, some government leaders are taking steps to correct the mistakes of the past and build a more hopeful future.
This work is hotly debated and affects a variety of issues, from academic studies to racial reparations to the environment. On the environmental front, activists face uphill battles to reclaim land, ecosystems, and biodiverse life that has been nearly driven to extinction.
Buffalo have long been a symbol of the American West, and the ways it was reshaped by settlers. By the end of the 20th century, buffalo populations had cratered from a peak of 30 million to just 1,000 in the wild. Sacred to many Native American tribes, the buffalo was prized for its meat and pelt, with several creative uses for every other part.
This symbiotic relationship was severed as the transcontinental railroad connected the east and west coasts, and American travelers would shoot buffalo for sport from the passing trains, leaving the carcasses to rot on the plains.
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This travesty can never be excused or undone but conservationists have made encouraging progress in the last two decades, raising buffalo populations to 31,000 in North America. To help with this mission, and learn from the tragedies of the past, Denver CO has made a symbolic and encouraging donation to the area’s Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, as well as the Tall Bull Memorial Council.
14 buffalo, the descendants of the last wild buffalo in the area, have been gifted to the tribes in an effort to reestablish the species in its natural habitat.
“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,” Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock told The Denver Channel. This is just the first of many planned yearly donations through 2030. The donated buffalo came from the Denver Zoo, by way of Denver’s City Park.
For their part, 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,” according to The Denver Channel.
Learn more about the donation at the official Denver City Government page here!Whizzco