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Onlookers gather to witness incredible moment bison herd is released back into wild: 'They knew they were home'

"What an incredible thing to see."

"What an incredible thing to see."

Photo Credit: TikTok

A group of onlookers cheered as almost two dozen bison descended a ramp out of a semi-truck and ran free into their new wild home on First Nation lands in Canada.

The moving moment from February 2023 was shared by TikTok creator onefivefive_films (@onefivefive_films) with the caption, "Bringing them home!"

@onefivefive_films MGBHLM Buffalo Release Bringing them home! #native #nativetiktok #nativeamerican #nativetiktoks #nativehumor #nativefamily #nativepride #indian #indigenous #indigenoustiktok #indigenousday #indigenouspride #spirit #buffalo #bison #buffalos #bisonpride #bisonnation #nakota #firstnations #bisonlover #bisonbison #bringthemhome ♬ original sound - onefivefive_films

The Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head, Lean Man First Nation community (MGBHLM) in Saskatchewan, Canada, received 22 bison from Elk Island National Park through Parks Canada, per Battlefords Now. The bison will run freely within a 1,000-acre fenced area on MGBHLM land.

"We truly believe that the spirit of the buffalo is going to help us, each and every one of you, nation to nation," MGBHLM Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman told Battlefords Now

At one time, more than 30-60 million bison lived in North America, according to Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS). By 1888, no wild bison remained in Canada, and only one wild herd was left at Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

A number of conservation organizations have been working to reintroduce bison to their native territories, and today, about 2,200 plains bison and 11,000 wood bison roam Canada. 

WCS noted that one of the biggest challenges conservationists face is the loss of grasslands across the bison's historic range. At the same time, reintroducing bison to an ecosystem actually improves the land. 

One study by Kansas State University found that the presence of bison more than doubles plant diversity and richness, leading to more drought-resistant lands.

This release was part of a larger movement to get bison back onto tribal lands in Canada and the United States. In 2021, bison herds were released at Poundmaker Cree Nation and Onion Lake Cree Nation. In 2023, the Blackfeet Nation in Montana released a herd of wild bison onto its land, sharing a video of the momentous event.

Since 2014, a number of First Nations in the U.S. and Canada have signed the Buffalo Treaty, which has been described as a pact of cooperation in order to return bison to the Prairies and First Nation communities. The treaty also outlines knowledge gathering and conservation, among other things.

"BUFFALO is part of us and WE are part of BUFFALO culturally, materially, and spiritually," the treaty says. "Our ongoing relationship is so close and so embodied in us that Buffalo is the essence of our holistic eco-cultural life-ways." 

TikTokers were moved by the bison release video.

"They knew they were home the second they heard the heartbeat of Mother Earth," one person said.

"Wow… I can only imagine the feeling to be able to witness this in person," another commented.

"This gave me full-body goosebumps," another commenter wrote. "What an incredible thing to see!"

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