BOX ELDER - It’s been about six months since the Chippewa Cree released bison onto their land for the first time in decades.
“We’ve had three baby calves born. We’ve added a couple more bulls since then,” Buffalo Project Vice Chairman JR Rosette said. “By the end of May, we should be up to 20 head.”
The project started as an idea years ago and came to fruition when the first 11 bison were released last year in what was an important time and event for the tribe.
“The last few years, we’ve been sheltered up,” Rosette said. “We get to see new stuff with this and now we’re able to grow.”
Rosette said there isn’t a timeline yet but one goal of theirs is they plan to turn the project into a nonprofit and hope to build a pen for families to come and see the bison in their natural habitat.
They also plan to continue working with the American Prairie Reserve, which helped start the original herd by donating several bison. They hope to continue receiving donations like that so the herd and opportunities can grow.
“Our first calf was born on April 23. Our last one was born on May 4. We might name him Yoda,” board member Ashley Young joked. “When I heard about the first calf, it made me feel really happy and overjoyed because it’s the first buffalo calf to hit the ground for our tribe so to me it felt like new beginnings for the tribe.”
They say the herd has adapted well to their new habitat and want it to grow even bigger. They’re planning on several more calves being born this year and are planning to continue to work with the American Prairie Reserve and other organizations.
“There’s endless possibilities we can go with. Possibilities are endless you know. It’s whatever our imaginations can do. We’ve seen what working together with other people, other tribes, other organizations can do. This was just a thought two years ago and now it’s here so we can continue to have these good thoughts and grow,” Rosette said.
For updates, you can visit the Rocky Boy Buffalo Project Facebook page.