NDN Collective Celebrates Buffalo Release with Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range & Wildlife Sanctuary

October 22, 2021

NDN Collective Celebrates Buffalo Release with Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range & Wildlife Sanctuary

The Wolakota Buffalo Range, a project of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic development arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is the largest Native owned and managed buffalo range in the world.

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2021

Rapid City, SD — Today, members of NDN Collective attended the Wolakota Buffalo Release Celebration on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, where close to 100 people gathered, including local students, National Parks Service and Fish and Wildlife Service representatives, members of Native organizations including the Rosebud Tribal Council, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Land Enterprise, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and more. 

“Not long ago, settlers attempted to kill off the buffalo as a mechanism to steal our land, and they tried to steal our land as a mechanism to colonize our people and assimilate and destroy us– but they couldn’t,” said Nick Tilsen, President and CEO of NDN Collective. “Now, coming full circle, we have reclaimed these lands and we’ve put the tatanka (buffalo) back on the land.”

The group gathered to speak about Rosebud’s land usage and regeneration efforts, the Tribal bison restoration effort that began last year, and the spiritual and cultural significance of Wolakota (to live the Lakota way of life). Today, 60 buffalo from Wind Cave National Park were released onto the land, joining an existing herd on the Wolakota Buffalo Range and Wildlife Sanctuary. 

“It’s a momentous day and an honor to witness the buffalo return to Sicangu Lakota lands,” said Tilsen. “Our ancestors dreamed of moments like this for us. So today, we’re fulfilling a dream and a vision.” 

Nick Tilsen with Sicangu Lakota students from Rosebud. Photo Courtesy of NDN Collective

The Wolakota Buffalo Range, a project of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic development arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, is the largest Native owned and managed buffalo range in the world. After the range is fully stocked in 5 years, buffalo will be sold wholesale to provide working capital and jobs, pay leases on the land, and reclaim the link between the Tribe’s identity and the health of buffalo living on their territory. 

“Our ancestors roamed this area and it had everything we needed. But it wasn’t just our land, it was also the buffalo’s land,” said Wizipan Little Elk of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe during the event.

“They were here before us, and they will be here after us,” said Little Elk. “We do this partly for ourselves, and partly for them. The Tatanka Oyate (Buffalo Nation), we wouldn’t exist without them. We come from them. We are the same people. They looked after us for thousands of years, and right now, it’s our turn to look after them.” 

Photo by @sicangucdc Team

NDN Collective supported the Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range and Wildlife sanctuary with a combination of grants and loans.  NDN Foundation provided a total of $200,000 in funding to REDCO over the past two years in three different funding streams: a Community Renewable Energy Grant, a Community Action Grant, and a COVID Phase 2 Transition and Resilience Grant. 

“Being here today was so much more than being a funding partner, but as a Dakota, to hear that thundering sound of the Buffalo as they ran past us onto the lands and the new home made for them, that was powerful,” said Gaby Strong, Managing Director of NDN Foundation. “They’re back and we’re all coming back with them. That’s the generational work we’re supporting.” 

NDN Fund is providing financing for Wolakota through the Moving Beyond Covid Small Business and SEEDing Infrastructure loan programs. “The Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range is a model for resilient regeneration done right,” said Kim Pate, Vice President of NDN Collective.  

“This didn’t happen overnight,” said Pate. “First the financing was obtained, then the land was purchased, and finally the buffalo were sourced and brought here. We are catching a glimpse into the future of Native Nations that promote healthy food systems and permanent job creation for a thriving community. This model will spread across the land and many more will be able to adapt it to their people, places and programs.” 

The buffalo herd is now approximately 375 strong, and expected to be up to 900 by January. By the spring of 2022 and after calving season, the herd is expected to be over 1,000, making it the largest Tribally managed buffalo herd in the world.

Learn more about the Wolakota Regenerative Buffalo Range and Wildlife Sanctuary on their website and donate here

###

NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

October 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Dozens Hold Sit-in to Demand Resignation of SD State's Attorney Posted 7 days ago
"The state’s attorney’s office is sending a message to the entire community that you can kill a Native person and pay a small fee and go on with your life. What that does is shows how you value Native people's lives. We are their constituents, they work for us, right? So where's our justice?" 
'We deserve to be here': Bringing Grassroots Indigenous Advocacy to DC

Jordynn Paz

Posted 1 week ago
NDN Collective traveled to Piscataway Territory (so-called Washington, DC) to meet with lawmakers and federal agencies; bringing our stories, priorities, and Indigenous-led solutions to the table.
NDN Collective Releases 5 Yr Impact Report, Highlighting Groundbreaking Work to Empower Indigenous Peoples Posted 4 weeks ago
“Launched in 2018, NDN Collective provides the most ambitious, systemic approach to empowering Native communities in the history of philanthropy and impact investing. The change, justice, and liberation we seek requires the centering of marginalized experiences and leadership, as well as the significant redistribution of resources currently overseeing the concentration of wealth.”
All Things Indigenous: Celebrating, Remembering, and Building Power in the Hesápa on Indigenous Peoples' Day 

Jordynn Paz

Posted 1 month ago
NDN Collective hosted the first ever Indigenous Peoples' Day march and celebration in MniLuzahan. The Rapid City community was invited to enjoy music by Indigenous artists, bounce houses for kids, food trucks, vendors and information booths representing various Indigenous-serving organizations.
NDN Collective Calls for Cease Fire, End of Military Aid to Israel Posted 1 month ago
"We mourn the lives already lost and feel dread knowing that many more will die. This is why we must rise up now and hold the U.S. government accountable in the funding of and profiteering from this war."
On Indigenous Peoples' Day, Supporters Call for Unity and Justice in the Wake of Hate Crime Shooting of Indigenous Activist Jacob Johns   Posted 2 months ago
“If anyone doubts that Indigenous people aren’t safe in this country, this shooting should dispel those doubts. What happened to Jacob is part of the ongoing legacy of colonization and continued threat of white supremacist violence facing Indigenous Peoples across the country."
Bipartisan Letter Urges President Biden to Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier Posted 2 months ago
“As Members of Congress, we sign this letter with a deep commitment to the crucial role we play in upholding justice for all Americans – and to also hold our government accountable when we see a case of injustice, as demonstrated by the long incarceration of Leonard Peltier."
Call to Action: No $100,000 Oñate Statue Posted 2 months ago
Rio Arriba County in Northern New Mexico is spending more than $100,000 to move a statue of conquistador and colonizer, Juan de Oñate, out of storage to display it in front of their county offices. This is not about a statue; this is about the settler colonial system that allows racist politicians like Alex Naranjo to do as they please on stolen land.
NDN Collective Launches Indigenous Climate & Just Transition Fund Posted 2 months ago
“We urge philanthropic organizations to join us in this moment by resourcing the Indigenous communities who have proven solutions to repair our relationship with the Earth. The climate investments implemented over the next few years will set the groundwork for generations to come.”  
4 Fossil Fuel Projects that Harm Indigenous Communities Posted 2 months ago
We remain persistent in reminding the Biden Administration and those in power that our Indigenous communities and lands continue to face harm through extractive measures that directly contribute to the climate crisis.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.