“There are Tribal Nations with biologically suitable habitat in the grizzly’s historic range who propose having this sacred being reintroduced to their sovereign lands. Instead of trophy hunting them, transplant the hunting quota from Greater Yellowstone and from the Crown of the Continent, to these tribal lands. This reintroduction can provide for economic and vocational opportunity where it is most desperately needed – on our reservations - where unemployment can run from 70 to 90%. This alternative provides for educational, training, and vocational opportunities in preparing tribal members in the fields of science and biology to undertake our own management programs. Crucially, this initiative will also provide for eco-tourism opportunities; from training and employing guides, to reservation infrastructure potential through the hospitality industry, which will allow for outside, business investment to be attracted. Each aspect will foster cultural revitalization and immersion, as all of these initiatives can be undertaken in a cultural context, which aids in the perpetuation of culture.”
Chairman AJ Not Afraid, Crow Nation – Testimony to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (3/8/2017)
“The Blackfoot Confederacy intends to develop a viable alternative to the colonial practices of the US government and state game agencies that consider killing to be a preferred grizzly bear management option. Our model will offer economic opportunity to our people and cultural revitalization that will have the potential to improve the lives of our youth. Incorporating the precedent established by the Northern Tribes Bison Treaty, if, as the USFWS claims, both the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) and Northern Continental Divide Ecosystems (NCDE) are at ‘carrying capacity,’ the Blackfoot Confederacy advocates for grizzlies from those areas to be reintroduced into our traditional country where the grizzly once roamed.”
Kainaiwa (Blood) Chief and Council letter to Interior Secretary Jewell, July 20, 2015
On behalf of Tribal Nations opposing the delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), USFWS Director Dan Ashe and Secretary of the Interior Jewell have been presented with an alternative course of action to instituting trophy hunting seasons on the grizzly – if, as speculated, but as yet unproven, the GYE is at “carrying capacity” and the population needs to be “managed” more aggressively to keep the numbers within the very conservative parameters proposed in USFWS’s delisting rule. Instead of trophy hunting the grizzly, Tribal Nations wish to see grizzlies transplanted from the GYE to sovereign tribal lands in the grizzly’s historic range where biologically suitable habitat exists. The same quota of grizzlies that would be hunted per season could easily be trapped and relocated, removing any possible rationalization for reinstituting trophy hunts.
This plan provides for cultural and environmental revitalization for Tribal Nations, as the grizzly is sacred to not only the Piikani, but a multitude of tribes. Both the physical and cultural environments of tribes have been incomplete since the federal and respective state governments eradicated the grizzly. As outlined by the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, and in numerous individual tribal resolutions, returning the grizzly bear to Tribal Nations will also provide great economic potential to communities most at need for economic impetus and investment.
Several Tribal Nations are already working on eco-tourism plans centered upon grizzly re-introduction, initiatives that were supported by President William J. Clinton on his visit to Montana in May 2016. If states open trophy hunting seasons on the grizzly bear, the states will not only be killing the sacred bear, but economic and cultural revitalization for tribes across western North America. USFWS Director Ashe committed to opening a dialogue on this proposal, which so far has not occurred. It is, therefore, entirely inconsistent, and quite simply an infringement of the federal trust responsibility for states to proceed with finalizing hunting seasons for the grizzly before this dialogue between Tribal Nations and the federal government is complete.
Northern Cheyenne representative James Walks Along with President Clinton