Tribal buffalo programs hurt by cuts in federal aid

Rapid City, South Dakota (AP) 1-08

A reduction in federal funding has hindered efforts by tribes to develop their buffalo herds and provide meat for their members, according to the executive director of the InterTribal Bison Cooperative in Rapid City.

Jim Stone said the $1 million federal grant that the cooperative will receive this year is down 75 percent from five years ago.

The InterTribal Bison Cooperative uses the federal money to fund the development of buffalo herds by the organizationÂ’s 57 members in 19 states, including North Dakota.

Stone said not all of the tribes apply for grants each year.

Often, the cooperative buys bison from the tribes, has the animals slaughtered and then gives the meat back to the tribes for distribution to tribal members, he said.

Last year, the bison cooperative distributed 80,000 pounds of meat to the tribes, Stone said.

The reduction in federal funding has caused significant cutbacks in those meat donations, he said.