NPR: Oregon tribes return to tradition with Montana bison hunt

"The tribes of the Umatilla reservation in northeast Oregon are hunting bison in southern Montana for the first time in more than a century. It's part of an effort to revive traditions that were once the heart of the tribe's religion and economy.

James Marsh drove 600 miles from his home to the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Early one morning, he leads six tribal hunters. They've brought some kids along and some Game Boys.

As of 9 a.m., Marsh has spotted only one bison. He says he hunts for food and to keep his heritage alive.

My background, we come from chiefs," Marsh says. "Only a few people were selected to hunt buffalo. And they were usually the strong ones."

Three different tribes make up the Umatilla Confederation: the Cayuse, the Walla Walla, and the Umatilla. Marsh is a member of the Cayuse tribe. According to some oral histories, bands of Cayuse used to walk from Oregon to Montana and back, crossing the great divide."

Get the Story:
Back To Tradition, Bringing Home The Bison (NPR 2/26)

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