CN receives 19 bison to add to herd
In mid-December, the Cherokee Nation received 19 bison to add to its existing herd. The new bison were kept separate and were expected to join the rest of the herd at the end of the month. JOSH FOURKILLER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Nineteen bison were welcomed in mid-December to the Cherokee Nation’s herd in Bull Hollow. Trent Holland, Natural Resources field supervisor, said the new bison bring in bloodlines and genetics that will hopefully increase the herd. JOSH FOURKILLER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BULL HOLLOW – Through the efforts of the Midwest SOARRING Foundation and the Intertribal Buffalo Council, the Cherokee Nation received 19 bison in December to add to its existing herd.
The new bison puts the tribe’s herd at more than 150 heads.
The tribe received the bison after the Midwest SOARRING (Save Our Ancestors’ Remains and Resources Indigenous Network Group) Foundation took the step to relocate a part of its herd to a Native American tribe.
“This donation is the result and final culmination of a 20 year-long project…to build and care for a spirit bison herd in Illinois using donated American bison as a cultural, conservation and educational resource, with the eventual goal of donating the herd to a tribe located on the bison’s natural plains habitat,” David Nordin, MSF associate board member, said. “Our bison herd is the only Native-owned herd in the state of Illinois.”
Nordin said the bison come from a farm located in the Grand Village of the Kickapoo, where for the past 25 years they have been cared for.
“This was the largest village of the Kickapoo and was occupied for at least 100 years before the tribe’s removal from the state and during a time when wild bison herds also lived in Illinois,” Nordin said.
Trent Holland, CN Natural Resources field supervisor, said it was an honor for the tribe to accept the bison. “It’s going to be a really good addition to our herd. They’ll get new blood lines in, new genetics. Hopefully it will really increase our herd.”
The CN on Aug. 17 welcomed two bison bulls from Yellowstone to its herd in Delaware County. The InterTribal Buffalo Council awarded the CN the surplus bison in July. The additions traveled more than 1,000 miles from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the tribe’s bison ranch.
Although bison are associated more with the Great Plains tribes, woodland bison once roamed Cherokee lands and along the Atlantic Coast. Prior to European colonization, the animals played a critical role for the Cherokee people. When the bison migrated east of the Mississippi the Cherokee people survived, in part, by hunting bison and using them as a food source. However, after European colonization, bison were mostly wiped out from the east and southeast parts of present-day United States.
Until 2014, the CN had not raised bison on the reservation in 40 years.