A short documentary film "Honoring the Buffalo Treaty at Fort Peck" is now available online. It explains the near-extinction of the American Bison and the transfer of a small herd to northeastern Montana in 2012.

The film was produced by Fort Peck Community College and Montana State University (MSU). A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funded the filming, as a part of the implementation of the Buffalo Treaty, which is a document joining several tribes in an effort to "honor, recognize, and revitalize the time immemorial relationship we have with buffalo..."

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The herd of buffalo came from Yellowstone National Park and the animals were released on the Fort Peck reservation 10 years ago. Officials say it was the first time that genetically pure buffalo had roamed the area in over a century.

A brief history of the American bison

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition estimates that in the past, about 30 million bison were "at home" from the middle of Canada all the way to Mexico. The large beasts were basically slaughtered in the 1800s. In 1902, a herd of 23 bison were found in the Pelican valley of Yellowstone National Park. Since then, the park has been increasing the bison numbers.

The 45-minute film, available on Youtube, contains interviews and materials from SmokeSignal Studios and the Fort Peck reservation. MSU News Service reported that Roxann Smith, director of the Chante Project at Fort Peck Community College was principal investigator. Brianna Routh and Michelle Grocke of MSU Extension and Elizabeth Bird of the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development were the main MSU collaborators.

Fort Peck Community College was chartered by the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in 1978 and has a satellite campus in Wolf Point. They offer associate degrees in 30 fields of study.

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