Native American tribes are celebrating the decision by a U.S. district court judge to re-list the Yellowstone grizzly bear as threatened. Numerous tribes sued the federal government to stop the de-listing and over 200 U.S. and Canadian tribes signed a grizzly bear treaty to protect the species. Blackfeet member Tom Rodgers is an advisor for the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders. He said efforts to protect the grizzly galvanized tribes around the world.
“This has brought all of Indian Country together,” said Rodgers. “It is nice in Indian Country to sometimes prevail and persevere. Because for all too often we have suffered far too many losses. So this was a wonderful, wonderful reprieve.”
Rodgers said one reason the grizzly is back under federal protections is because tribes weren’t included in the decision making, as required by treaty obligation and executive order. He said, now, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke needs to commit to real consultation with tribes.
“Sit down with us. We can find a solution,” he said. “If there’s a certain level of overpopulation, we can remove them to reservations as we have the bison. Repopulate our reservations.”
Rodgers said the grizzly bear is considered sacred by tribes around the U.S. and the idea of a trophy hunt, like the ones that Wyoming and Idaho had scheduled, was offensive to many Native Americans.