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Columbus Zoo's The Wilds relocates bison to South Dakota

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Columbus Zoo's The Wilds relocates bison to South Dakota


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced that the Wilds, the Wildlife Restoration Foundation and the InterTribal Buffalo Council have successfully relocated 74 bison to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

The bison were previously in The Wilds’ conservation center. The relocation is part of The Wilds’ new bison conservation plans in hopes of improving the population.


What You Need To Know

  • Prairies used to span more than 142 million acres in the U.S., but are now one of the most endangered, as there are less than 5% of the ecosystem remaining
  • Bison graze those lands, adding nutrients back into the soil and help created shallow wetlands that help amphibians and birds, plant species and more
  • Bison are now near extinct because of over-hunting and westward expansion

“The transfer of these bison is a crucial step in our mission to restore this keystone species to its native range while respecting the profound cultural connections many tribes and communities have with the bison,” said Vice President at The Wilds Joe Smith in a release. “This collaborative effort underscores the vital importance of bison in maintaining the health of prairie ecosystems and in supporting cultural heritage.”

The Columbus Zoo wrote in a release that the American bison are critical for the health and diversity of prairie ecosystems. Prairies used to span more than 142 million acres in the U.S., but are now one of the most endangered, as there are less than 5% of the ecosystem remaining. Bison graze those lands, adding nutrients back into the soil and help created shallow wetlands that help amphibians and birds, plant species and more. 

Bison are now near extinct because of over-hunting and westward expansion. While they are pivotal for prairie lands, they also play a role in the lives of Tribal nations across the Great Plains, which use bison for food, shelter, clothing, spiritual rituals and more, according to the Columbus Zoo. 

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The Wilds and its partners are working to transition a herd of around 150 bison on 600 acres into a prototype conservation herd, which is managed by a zoological institution, according to the Columbus Zoo. To achieve this, The Wilds is taking the following steps:

  • Maintaining the natural herd structures and behaviors
  • Ensuring genetic diversity and quality
  • Implementing advanced herd management and health strategies
  • Restoring native grasslands
  • Enhancing public education and guest experiences

For more information, click here. 



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South Dakota

Defense secretary orders review of Wounded Knee Massacre medals • South Dakota Searchlight

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Defense secretary orders review of Wounded Knee Massacre medals • South Dakota Searchlight


The medals awarded to soldiers who participated in the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre will be subjected to a review, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

The department said the review’s purpose is “to ensure no awardees were recognized for conduct inconsistent with the nation’s highest military honor.”

The move comes after years of activism by Lakota people — including descendants of massacre survivors — who want the medals rescinded. 

Oliver “OJ” Semans, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has been active in the effort with his wife, Barb, and their Four Directions nonprofit. He said it’s gratifying to see some momentum after a long struggle, including failed attempts to rescind the medals through congressional legislation.

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“This issue is moving right now, and there are a lot of people involved in it,” Semans said. “We’re all trying to get to the same conclusion, and that’s justice for the descendants.”

We’re all trying to get to the same conclusion, and that’s justice for the descendants.

– Oliver ‘OJ’ Semans, Rosebud Sioux Tribe member

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The memorandum ordering the review is from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. He directed his undersecretary of defense and personnel readiness to convene a panel of five experts, including two from the Department of the Interior. The panel must send a written report to Austin no later than Oct. 15 with recommendations and rationale to retain or rescind each of the medals. Austin will then provide his recommendations to the president.

The department said “approximately 20” soldiers received a Medal of Honor for participating in the massacre. Historians have noted that the records associated with some of the medals are incomplete or unclear.

In a news release, the Defense Department attributed comments to “a senior defense official” who said “it’s never too late to do what’s right.”

“And that’s what is intended by the review that the secretary directed,” the official said, “which is to ensure that we go back and review each of these medals in a rigorous and individualized manner to understand the actions of the individual in the context of the overall engagement.”

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The massacre occurred on Dec. 29, 1890. Lakota people were camped near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, where they were surrounded by hundreds of Army soldiers. A shot rang out while the soldiers tried to disarm the camp, and chaotic shooting ensued.

Fewer than 40 soldiers were killed (some by friendly fire, according to historians), while estimates of Lakota deaths ran from 200 to 300 or more, depending on the source. After some of the bodies froze on the ground for several days, a military-led burial party dumped them into a mass grave.

The politics and racism of the day influenced the Army’s decision to support medals for some of the soldiers, even though Maj. Gen. Nelson Miles condemned the massacre. He led the Division of the Missouri, which included the soldiers who were responsible for the incident.

“I have never heard of a more brutal, cold-blooded massacre than at Wounded Knee,” Miles wrote in an 1891 letter that’s now held in an archive at Yale.

 

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Noem, others urge Congress to pass legislation on tribal child support

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Noem, others urge Congress to pass legislation on tribal child support


Gov. Kristi Noem is joining other state governors urging Congress to pass the Strengthening State and Tribal Support Act.

Supporters of the bill say it would provide tribes with direct access to tax refund offsets to utilize in child and family support. It also gives broader contract access to federal tax information.

Currently, direct access to federal tax information by tribal support programs is prohibited.

Noem signed the letter asking for the change along with a bipartisan group of 20 other state governors.

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Ag Education Camp carries on South Dakota’s #1 industry

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Ag Education Camp carries on South Dakota’s #1 industry


HURON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – A major industry for South Dakota is agriculture. One part of the Farmer’s Union’s mission is to prepare youth to carry on the agricultural heritage of the state.

Early morning is very quiet at the Farmer’s Union Agricultural Industry Camp, but not for long. Nearly 30 children, up to age 12, start their day with a gathering around the flag pole for songs and a flag raising.

Education Specialist Samantha Bowman, who is the lead, shares the mission of this Farmer’s Union-backed camp.

“We’re hoping that it leads them down a path within the agriculture industry especially, but just leadership in general. It’s important for them to realize that even at such a young age that they do have a voice and that their voice has room at the table as we see the generations continue on,” said Bowman.

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Much of the time at the camp is spent on education slanted toward the ag industry.

“There’s a lot of education behind what we do, but we try to do it all hands-on. So, kids are learning, but they’re having fun at the same time. So when they go home to tell their parents how much fun they had, they’re really telling their parents everything that they learned,” said Bowman.

Among other things, campers learn about co-ops, retail, handling money and animal science. Cadence Konechna, one of the current counselors, started as a camper herself. We asked what the most rewarding part of her position is.

“Watching kids go from being like, socially, they don’t want to participate in anything, they’re hiding in the corner, to having a large friend group and being in the center of everything and then having a huge smile on their face,” said Konechna.

The program has been going on since the 1930s.

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