On April 4, 2016, 87 plains bison calves from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada made their way back home to the Blackfeet Reservation near Browning, Montana. This transfer of bison symbolizes a monumental homecoming of bison whose ancestors once lived on the reservation. The Blackfeet Nation, Elk Island National Park, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Oakland Zoo collaborated since December 2015 to make this event happen. The historic translocation to bring the bison back to their original home marks an extremely significant purpose as the Blackfeet Nation, American Indian tribes, and First Nations work to restore such an important cultural icon back on their native lands.
The 87 bison calves, each roughly a year old, are descendants from individuals captured on the Blackfeet land in 1873 by Samuel Walking Coyote, a member of the Pend d'Oreille tribe. Samuel Walking Coyote eventually sold a majority of the herd to Michel Pablo and Charles Allard to establish the Pablo-Allard herd. This herd ultimately became the largest in the United States at the time and contributed to the restocking of bison in conservation herds. In 1907, the government of Canada bought the herd and later shipped the bison to Elk Island National Park, where they currently live today.