Through Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON – The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana will include the National Bison Range when a transfer of ownership facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is ended.
The transfer was announced by outgoing US Department of the Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt on Friday, January 15. He signed Secretary’s Order 3390 transferring the land to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The BIA will officially take the land in trust for the and return the land to the Flathead Indian Reservation.
“The restoration of this land is a great historic event and we have worked hard to achieve it. This comes after a century of separation from the buffalo and bison range, and after a quarter century of efforts to co-manage the refuge with the FWS,” said CSKT President Shelly R. Fyant. “And who better to do that than the earth’s original inhabitants who depended on bison for centuries?” He was our mainstay. »
The transfer was made possible by Public Law No. 116-260, signed into law on December 27, 2020. In December 2020, Congress repealed the law that created the National Bison Range, and Congress restored the National Bison Range Range to be once again held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (Tribes).
The legislation also created a two-year transition period during which Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), to cooperate with tribes in the activities of transition as the tribes assume complete management of the Bison range.
The Service and Tribes will work towards a smooth transition for bison, wildlife, staff and the public.
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