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"Restoration" in Ecological Management

Sat, March 28, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Delta Ottawa City Centre, Floor: Conference, Joliet


Between 1905 and 1915, the American Bison Society established five “bison reservations” on Indian reservations that the U.S. federal government was systematically dismantling in order to erode tribal sovereignty. This “game reservation” movement would come to shape material landscapes in the United States and abroad, and begot the National Wildlife Refuge System, which today comprises a network of over 562 sites, currently administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife System, spanning more than 150 million acres. The ideas of “reservation” and “restoration” persist to this day, delimiting what is seen as possible in ecological management, the assumed solutions to different threats than those that concerned empowered white conservationists of the early nineteenth century. After outlining the history of the early bison restoration movement, this paper turns to the recent work of the InterTribal Buffalo Council, a collective of over sixty tribes established in 1992, whose mission is to restore buffalo to Indian Country in order to preserve historical, cultural, traditional, and spiritual relationships. The paper concludes by exploring the potential for ecological restoration to more deeply engage with environmental history and history of science, leading to what Martin calls "restorative ecological justice."