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Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes receive funds for Oklahoma bison herd expansion

Today, there are about 440,500 plains bison, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom
Today, there are about 440,500 plains bison, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are about 650 bison in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ herd near Concho and recently, they received federal money to continue its growth.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs is dividing $1.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law among three Tribal-led bison herd expansion and ecosystem restoration projects. The funds are part of larger federal initiatives to advance climate resilience and restore lands and waters.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Bison Expansion Project is one of the programs. Other efforts will also take place in North Dakota and Idaho. Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for the bureau, said in a press release bison are economically, ecologically and culturally important.

“These investments from the President’s Investing in America agenda support our efforts to revitalize Tribal cultures and communities and help conserve and restore important ecosystems that benefit all Americans,” Newland said.

Bison are not only part of many Indigenous cultures, they also help shape the Great Plains ecosystem. For instance, bison increase plant biodiversity and provide nesting grounds for birds through their grazing habits.

About 30-60 million bison once roamed North America, but over-hunting in the 19th century drove the native species near extinction. Over the years, conservation efforts like the bison restoration project in Osage County have been established to increase the number of bison and improve their surrounding ecosystems.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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