New plan will allow bison to be reintroduced to tribal lands in Shakopee

Bison will soon be back in the Shakopee area, according to a plan announced this week.

The animals would be on the tribal lands belonging to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) starting this fall.

A herd containing 15 bison will live on 165 acres of land located southeast of the junction of County Road 83 and Eagle Creek Boulevard. The area will also be surrounded by fencing, allowing them to graze on native prairie plants.

SMSC officials say the animals will be brought in from the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, which are two combined bands and two subdivisions of the Isanti or Santee Dakota (Sioux) located in South Dakota. They live on the Lake Traverse Reservation in the northeast section of the state.

Traditionally, the Dakota people depended on bison not only for food, but also materials and medicine. However, the animals were hunted down and were nearly nonexistent.

The SMSC adds the Dakota people consider the bison, also known as pte, a relative.

“Our tribe has restored and revitalized its relationship with our plant relatives over the decades, and we now have the opportunity to revitalize our relationship with our relative, the pte. Reintroduction bison to our homelands will allow us to bring back traditional ceremonies and food and medicine important to our people,” said Keith Anderson, chairman of the SMSC.