Fort Belknap tribes hope to soon give some Yellowstone Park bison a new home

Jun 24, 2013

Fort Belknap bison herd
Credit Mark Azure

Last week, the state supreme court reversed a lower court ruling blocking the transfer of disease-free bison from Yellowstone National Park to tribal lands.

Some 60-plus bison had already been relocated to the Fork Peck reservation, and now the Fort Belknap reservation hopes the ruling paves the way for them to receive some of the Yellowstone bison.

"This animal is helping us today almost like it did 500 years ago."

The state of Montana sees the transfer as an alternative to slaughtering bison that wander out of the park. Mark Azure  is Director of the Fort Belknap Fish and Game Department. In this feature interview, Azure talks with News Director Sally Mauk about the bison's historic - and contemporary - importance to the reservation's Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes. Azure says the tribes acquired a small herd of bison from the National Bison range in 1974 - a herd that has now grown to 600. Azure says they raise bison for a variety of reasons.