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Meet the Group That’s Been Bringing Bison Back to Tribal Lands for 30 Years

Whenever Wayne Frederick watches the American bison roaming around the sprawling South Dakota prairies of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, he sees a piece of himself. The 43-year-old Rosebud Sioux member and tribal council representative was born into the family tradition of bison herd management and has since dedicated nearly 37 years of his life to the hooved beasts.

“In times of question or hardship, I was lucky that I had those animals most of my life to ground me,” Frederick told Civil Eats. “If people were able to see this more often, you’d really respect life a lot more and where we came from.”

His father, Tom Frederick, who once worked as director of the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources and Game, Fish, and Parks, had always dreamed of bringing the buffalo back to Rosebud. It eventually became a reality in 1980, when the U.S. Department of the Interior approved his request to acquire 25 buffalo as surplus property from the Wind Cave National Park’s historic herd in the Southern Black Hills.