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Cherokee Nation Welcomes 9 Bison Babies Into New Herd

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Just six months after bison set foot on the Cherokee Nation, the herd has increased. A total of nine calves have been born since April 8 on the 200 acres that the herd lives on, with more on the way, the Cherokee Nation announced.

“The birth of these spring calves is an excellent sign for the growth of our bison herd. It means the herd has settled into its new home, and they are flourishing,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker in a statement on April 23. “The reintroduction of bison to the Cherokee Nation is significant because it allows our people to reconnect with an important chapter in our history, when bison were essential to our daily lives.”

Last fall the Cherokee Nation received 38 bison cows from Badlands National Park in South Dakota and 12 bulls from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, bringing bison back to their lands for the first time in decades via the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

RELATED: The Mighty Bison Returns to Cherokee Nation

Video: Watch 38 Bison Set Foot on Cherokee Nation Land

“Although bison are associated more with the Great Plains tribes, herds ranged from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast and Cherokees used bison as a food source until colonization,” the Cherokee said in their statement. “Its skins were used for blankets, hair woven into belts and horns carved into utensils. That breed of bison was nearly extinct after European contact.”

There are now 59 bison in the herd, the Cherokee said, and the hope is that it will expand to 200. There are 1,000 acres available for the animals to roam, with more opening up as the herd grows, the tribe said.

“The herd is doing great since relocating, and each bison has already put on about 150 pounds,” said Bison Herdsman Chris Barnhart in the Cherokee statement. “It’s great to see these new calves being born and the public driving by to get a glimpse of them.”