Sask. First Nation welcomes back buffalo herd after 150-year absence
After a 150-year absence, a herd of buffalo has returned to the Cote First Nation.
A starter herd of 24 buffalo was gifted to the Cote First Nation and released on Monday, with help from Loko Koa, a group seeking to restore Indigenous culture and identity.
The group is working towards building sustainable buffalo herds on First Nations land. George Cote, Chief of Cote First Nation, said the return of the buffalo is an historic moment.
“It brings this sense of calmness and peacefulness to our spirits to know that buffalo have returned to our reserves,” said Cote.
“The buffalo is a very resourceful for our people. It provided sustenance, shelter, and spiritual connection to our land.”
Chief Cote said that the story of the buffalo is one that many Indigenous people across Canada can relate to and added that bringing home the buffalo helps with reconciliation.
“We as First Nations people we fought to where we are today. We are happy that we are working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous are working together bring the buffalo home,” said Cote
The buffalo arrived from the original starter herd in Carstairs, Alberta. The stewardship of these buffalo will be the responsibility of Cote First Nation and Loko Koa.
The project started from as a result of a covenant agreement made between Loko Koa and Peepeekisis First Nation in Dec 2014. After paddock costs were paid for by the Peepeekisis First Nation, 22 buffalos were gifted to the community as a ‘starter herd’.
After five years, the herd grew to 45. In 2020, Peepeekisis and Loko gave 22 buffalos to Zagime First Nation so the community could start their own herd.
Similarly, Cote First Nation and Loko Koa is expected to gift a new herd to another First Nation after three to five years.