Denver Gifts Bison to Arapahoe and Cheyenne Tribes

Aug 3, 2021Bison

The Denver Mountain Parks Foundation is excited to share an important update about Denver’s 2 bison herds. The donation of bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and the Tall Bull Memorial Council will help “…return wild bison to their native homes and help reintroduce bison and support conservation efforts on tribal lands.”

This step by the city of Denver works to fulfill Denver’s commitment to conservation and preservation, and we congratulate the city on its decision.

Read the City’s full press release below.


DENVER Apr. 2, 2021

Today, Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) presented 13 American Bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, located in Oklahoma and one
bison to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Colorado. This gift is the first of its kind from the City of Denver to return wild bison to their native homes and help reintroduce bison and support conservation efforts on tribal lands.

In consultation with DPR’s tribal partners, the Denver American Indian Commission, the Tall Bull Memorial Council and the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the donation of surplus Denver Mountain Park bison to American Indian Tribes or American Indian Non-Profit organizations will continue through the year 2030.

“Denver shares a common vision with our tribal partners to return and restore wild bison back to historical habitats and ancestral lands,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Bison restoration efforts teach us how to be better stewards of the land, improve prairie landscapes and ecosystems, ensure genetic diversity of the species, and ensure a legacy of cultural understanding.”

“This donation is the result and culmination of a very long, storied history and relationship with the State of Colorado,” said Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana. “The Tribes plan to use the donated bison as a cultural, conservation and educational resource, with the goal of locating the bison on our own tribal natural
plains habitat.”

“We appreciate this gift and hope to grow our relationship with the great state of Colorado, ”stated Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Lt. Governor Gilbert Miles.

DPR recently hosted its 36th annual Bison Auction at Genesee Park, auctioning off young bison from Genesee Park and Daniels Park. This auction historically kept the herd at a healthy population size and promoted genetic diversity within the managed bison population. DPR will no longer conduct the auction but will work with our tribal partners to select tribes across the country that will accept the bison to build and enhance conservation herds on tribal lands.

“Denver City Council adopted a Land Acknowledgement in 2020 which asked us to demonstrate a commitment to dismantle ongoing legacies of oppression and inequity,” said City Councilwoman Jamie Torres. “I’m deeply proud of our City’s effort to work with Tribes and the InterTribal Buffalo Council to ensure cultural and spiritual preservation.”

DPR maintains two conservation bison herds in the Denver Mountain Parks system at Genesee Park and Daniels Park. The herds are descendants from the last wild bison in North America and were originally established at Denver’s City Park by the Denver Zoo and the City of Denver. The herd was moved to Genesee Park in 1914 and expanded to Daniels Park in 1938.

Denver Mountain Parks began caring for the first managed bison herd in Colorado to conserve the species and prevent extinction. Herds that numbered more than 30 million when the first European explorers set foot on the American continent were nearly wiped out by the 1880s. At the turn of the 20th century, fewer than 1,000 bison remained in existence. Today it is estimated that there are roughly 31,000 free-range wild bison in North America.

Denver Parks & Recreation Mountain Parks

For more than 100 years, Denver’s Mountain Parks have provided a place for people to play in some of Colorado’s most scenic landscapes. At 14,000 acres, 22 accessible
parks and 24 conservation areas make the city’s “backyard” park system one of the most unique and expansive in the country. Extending across three counties and spanning altitudes of 13,000+ feet, these parks offer hiking, fishing, golfing, picnicking and other outdoor adventures, including historic cultural institutions such as the Mt.
Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, and world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

To highlight the nutritional and cultural benefits of a traditional diet, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Buffalo Program provides buffalo meat to tribal elders and tribal members who have been diagnosed with, or are at risk of, diabetes. Working in collaboration with the tribes’ Farming and Ranch program, buffalo meat is provided to participants each quarter, along with recipes and nutritional information. In addition to the distribution of buffalo meat, the Buffalo Program also works with the Farming and Ranch program to promote and enhance the tribal buffalo herd while also contributing to the research, evaluation, and development of other facets of bison restoration, as well as the management of tribally controlled land and herds.

InterTribal Buffalo Council

The InterTribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) is a collection of 69 federally recognized Tribes from 19 different states whose mission is to restore buffalo to Indian Country in order to preserve our historical, cultural, traditional, and spiritual relationship for future generations. To reestablish healthy buffalo populations on Tribal lands is to reestablish hope for Indian people. By returning the buffalo to Tribal lands will help heal the land, the animal, and the spirit of the Indian people.

Tall Bull Memorial Council Inc.

A Gathering Place for the Native American Community. In June 1977, an agreement was signed with the city of Denver to set aside a 70-acre parcel in Daniels Park for the
use of a consortium of organizations known later as the Tall Bull Memorial Council.

Denver American Indian Commission

The mission of the Denver American Indian Commission is to enhance present and future communications between the Denver American Indian Community and the City
and County of Denver, to advocate for social and cultural awareness and to promote economic and political equality