Submitted photo

The return of bison to a high meadow in the Black Hills was supposed to be a symbolic step forward for several Native American tribes, but it resulted in a chaotic series of bison escapes and captures. 

Andrew Johnson remarked on the end of the misadventure last month during a meeting of the Black Hills National Forest Advisory Board. Johnson recently finished a stint as acting forest supervisor. 

World Wildlife Fund

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe wants to create the largest Native American-owned and managed bison herd in North America. 

Wizipan Little Elk is CEO of the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation. He said the plan includes building a herd of 1,500 bison and possibly constructing a processing facility to provide food and economic development for tribal members. 

Bison Escape Again From Black Hills Pasture

Jan 10, 2020

  Some bison have escaped again from their mountain-meadow enclosure in the Black Hills. 

Lori Walsh

In The Moment ... October 24, 2019 Show 686 Hour 1

SDPB blogger Kevin Woster bundled up for the recent bison release in Badlands National Park. He writes about the historic event on his blog On the Other Hand.

In The Moment ... October 8, 2019 Show 675 Hour 1

On Friday, a Return of the Bison Celebration is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Pinnacles Overlook in Badlands National Park. The public ceremony marks a large expansion of the Park's bison range.

Blaine Kortemeyer, Chief of Resource Education at Badlands National Park, detailed the expansion and the ceremony as he spoke with In The Moment producer Steve Zwemke.

Bison Preparing For 53rd Annual Buffalo Roundup

Sep 26, 2019
Chynna Lockett

This weekend, about sixty cowboys will herd thousands of bison to Custer State Park’s corrals. The Buffalo Roundup draws spectators from all over the country. But the bison earn the big bucks.


The smell of sage and buffalo dung wafts through the air. Bison snort as park staff drive trucks over small yellow hills, following dirt tire tracks in the dry brush. A group of the animals drinking from a creek ignore the vehicle for a few minutes before moving down the water bed. These bison are used to people pulling over to gawk. 

Victoria Wicks

The history of bison in North America isn't just the story of an indigenous animal. Its existence is tied politically, economically, and spiritually to the indigenous people.

This story is told in a traveling exhibit at the Journey Museum in Rapid City. The exhibit opened with a reception this weekend. "Bison" is on display through Oct. 14.

The traveling exhibit was created by the Kauffman Museum in Kansas, in conjunction with the National Buffalo Foundation.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

11 Degrees Of Tatanka

Feb 27, 2019
Adria Botella

In The Moment ... February 27, 2019 Show 524 Hour 2

The Lakota origin story says the American bison sacrificed his own body to sustain the First People.

In his new exhibit at the Center for Western Studies on the Augustana University campus artist Jerry Fogg seeks to honor the buffalo's sacrifice by preserving Lakota oral histories.

11 Degrees of Tatanka is on display through May 24 in the Madsen/Nelson/Elman Gallaries of the Fantle Building at Augustana.

Lee Strubinger

In The Moment ... June 1, 2017 Show 105 Hour 1

Judd Hoos is an American rock band based in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The band has been fine-tuning a full-length album set for release tomorrow. It's called “Music in the Dark.” Their single "Breathe In" charted number 23 on the iTunes New rock charts when it was released a year ago. Tyler Bills, Andy Young and Chris Hornick join us from the SDPB studios at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City.

Wind Cave Ceremony Honors American Bison

Nov 4, 2016
Courtesy National Park Service

Wind Cave National Park celebrated the designation of the bison as our country’s National Mammal this week.  Participants heard about the history of the animal within Native American cultures and the role it continues to play in the 21st century.

It’s a beautiful Fall afternoon as dozens of visitors gather at Wind Cave National Park for a ceremony to honor the American bison.

Bison Could Become National Mammal

May 3, 2016
Courtesy Wind Cave National Park

Bison could soon become the country’s National Mammal. The US House and Senate passed the National Bison Legacy Act. It’s awaiting President Obama’s signature.

Calving Starts in Custer

Apr 12, 2016
South Dakota Game Fish and Parks

Bison calving season is starting in South Dakota.  That means there are baby buffalo frolicking around places like Custer State Park right now.

The first Custer State Park bison calf of the year was born on April fourth.   Officials say most newly born buffalo come in late April to early May.  They often weigh over 40 pounds at birth and are a light orange color before turning dark brown.

Gary Brendage is the Resource Program Manager for the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks. He says around 400 calves are born in an average season.

As the first calves of the season are born in Custer State Park, Gary Enright, director of the 1881 Courthouse museum, joins Dakota Midday to talk about a creature with a 500,000 year history in North America. Revered, hunted, and nearly dashed  into extinction, the American Bison has a storied history of loss and renewal.

For more photos and videos of South Dakota history, visit our Images of the Past page.

Dakota Digest for October 23, 2015

Oct 23, 2015

On this week’s edition of Dakota Digest, South Dakota is set to lose its participation in the EB-5 program, and Senator Rounds won’t lobby to keep it. Also this week, Senator Thune hopes President Obama has a change of heart with the National Defense Authorization Act, and a Sioux Falls Roosevelt teacher has won a national award.

Be sure to follow South Dakota Public Broadcasting on social media by following our accounts on twitter: @SoDakPB, @SDPBNews, and @SDPBSports

Wind Cave Bison Culled For Relocation

Oct 22, 2015
Courtesy National Park Service

Nearly 300 bison were processed at Wind Cave National Park this week in preparation for shipping a portion of them to several ranches across the country. The labor-intensive task took 3 days and required dozens of park personnel and volunteers. SDPB’s Jim Kent attended the rather noisy event and filed this report.

Badlands Calls For Comments On Bison Plan

Oct 8, 2015
Courtesy National Park Service

Badlands National Park is accepting public comments until October 30 on a Bison Preliminary Action Alternative for the park’s North Unit. SDPB’s Jim Kent spoke with Badlands personnel about the current bison management plan and what changes might lie in the future.

The North Unit Bison Resource Management Plan calls for expanding the area where the Badlands Park bison herd currently grazes. After a series of public scoping meetings on the topic in 2013, two plans have been presented.

Along with being an author, Dan O’Brien is also a wildlife biologist, falconer and buffalo rancher. He’s written six novels and four books of non-fiction. His latest book is Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land. It’s an account of efforts to raise buffalo with dignity and respect as a sustainable enterprise in the Cheyenne River Valley. It’s also a love story – of family, friends, the often harsh-landscape of western South Dakota and the American bison.

Wild Idea: Harvesting Buffalo One At A Time

Jul 21, 2014

South Dakota is the largest producer of buffalo in the United States.   

The bison industry in South Dakota is diverse. Buffalo ranchers employ a wide range of methods to manage, slaughter, and process the bison they raise.

On today’s feature story SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray takes a look at an approach by one company to commercially harvest buffalo right in the field and run them through a mobile processing plant inside a semi-trailer.

Courtesy Badlands National Park

A series of public meetings scheduled to discuss bison management on the South Unit of Badlands National Park that were canceled by the park superintendent are not completely off the agenda.

Eric Brunnemann called off the meetings after getting feedback from Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oglala Sioux tribal officials that tribal members were confusing the topic of bison management with the topic of national park designation.

Managing Bison In The Badlands South Unit

May 16, 2014
Courtesy Badlands National Park

Transfer of Badlands National Park’s South Unit management to the Oglala Sioux Tribe has been an ongoing process since 2006. Plans for a series of public meetings on bison management in that area, and the sudden cancelation of those meetings, has raised red flags among tribal members as well as the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. Their joint concerns center on the intentions of the National Park Service and the Oglala Sioux tribe toward landowners and those who lease land near the South Unit.

Courtesy Badlands National Park

A series of meetings scheduled to discuss bison management on the South Unit of Badlands National Park were recently cancelled without prior notice to the public. The sudden decision by the National Park Service to move from public discussions of the topic to written and electronic comments has caused concern among Native and non-Native ranchers alike. 

Badlands National Park Management

Apr 17, 2014
U.S. National Park Service

Oglala Sioux Tribe member Chuck Jacobs is one of the members of the core planning team working with Badlands National Park officials on federal legislation that would turn management of the South Unit of the park over to the tribe.  If legislation is approved, the South Unit would become the first tribally-run national park in the country.  The proposal has sparked controversy on the reservation after tribal ranchers were notified last fall that their grassland leases were being revoked in preperation for the reintroduction of bison on the South Unit.  Earlier this week, Oglala Sioux Tribe

Dakota Midday: Restoring the Bison

Dec 5, 2013
University of Nebraska Press

The story of the devastation of bison herds in the late 19th century is a familiar one. But in his book, “Buffalo Nation: American Indian Efforts to Restore the Bison,” Ken Zontek tells a more hopeful story.

Photo by Jim Kent



In response to a U.S. Senate resolution businesses, Native American tribes and environmental groups across the country celebrated National Bison Day on November 2nd. 

The resurgence of America’s largest land mammal over recent years has had an impact on Natives and non-Natives alike.

Rapid City Museum Seeks To Preserve Legacy Of Bison

Aug 19, 2013

Buffalo are indigenous to North America. Scientists estimate at one time there were more than sixty-million head roaming the prairies - but after the 1800’s those numbers changed dramatically. Buffalo populations began to swiftly decline - almost reaching extinction. Susan Ricci is the Owner and Director of the Museum of the American Bison in Rapid City - she’s dedicating her time and space to tell the story of the iconic beast.

Wind Cave Celebrates Bison 100th Anniversary

Aug 16, 2013
Courtesy Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park is celebrating the anniversary of 14 American bison donated to the federal government in 1913 that would endure and grow to become the healthy herd of 400 that now roams the Southern Black Hills.

Today we visit descendants of those original bison with park personnel to discuss the herd’s history and the surprising story of their origin.

Bison Killed In Wind Cave National Park

Jun 24, 2013
Courtesy Wind Cave National Park


Three bison in Wind Cave National Park were killed recently after being struck by a vehicle hauling a trailer.

 Although there were no human injuries, Wind Cave Park spokesperson Tom Farrell says the vehicle was likely going too fast for night travel.