Back to the Bison: The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and the National Bison Range

Authors: Linda Moon Stumpff

Disciplines: Environmental Studies, Political Science and Public Administration

Themes: Activism, Cultural Preservation, Intergovernmental Relations, Land, Law and Justice, Leadership, Self Determination and Self Governance, Treaty Rights and Sovereignty

Tribes: Confederated Tribes of Salish Kootenai

Thirty years after taking over the reins of forestry, recreation, wildlife and other natural resource operations on their reservation lands, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) established a reputation for environmental leadership in wildlife, wilderness, recreation and co-management. As students work through “Back to the Bison,” they participate in strategic decision-making from the perspective of how CKST made decisions about their relationship to the bison and to the surrounding lands, including the National Bison Range (NBRC). These relationships bring the Tribes into the process of evaluating the science of genetics and their own traditional ecological knowledge. Modern wildlife management practices based on western science are at issue and create opportunities for lively debate. This case provides opportunities for students to build research skills by reading and evaluating articles on genetics and the role of science and traditional ecological knowledge in wildlife management.