Twenty-four buffalo including two bulls are making their home on a 365-hectare wooded lot on Cote First Nation 265 km east of Regina in Saskatchewan.

It’s the first time in 150 years that buffalo have roamed the Treaty 4 territory near Kamsack.

Hundreds of people were on hand Monday to welcome the return of the sacred animal, which was hunted to extinction by settlers after providing sustenance and shelter to the people of the plains for millennia.

The return to Cote is something Chief George Cote has been working towards for four years. He says First Nations people have fought to be where they are today.

“We’re really grateful that the buffalo is increasing in numbers as well, as a result of what happened in history,” he tells APTN News. “It’s something that you know Canada should know, non-First Nations people should know. We’re really proud how First Nations have worked with non-First Nations to bring the buffalo home.”

The buffalo is an act of reconciliation and were hauled over 900 km to their new home. They were donated by an Alberta rancher and two Christian charities,

Tearfund Canada and Loko Koa, a Samoan youth ministry, that is based in Saskatchewan. Cote is the third First Nation in the province to benefit. Peepeekisis and Zagime First Nations now have well-established herds.

Cote says there have been many difficult years, but First Nations people are resilient, like the buffalo.

So how do you tell the difference between buffalo and bison?

Bison have large humps at their shoulders and bigger heads than buffalo. They also have beards, as well as thick coats which they shed in the spring and early summer. Another simple way to tell a buffalo from a bison is to look at its horns. Cape buffalo horns resemble a handlebar mustache; they have a thick, helmet-like base and curl down, then back up.

A water buffalo’s horns are large, long and curved in a crescent, while a bison’s horns are typically sharp and shorter than the average buffalo’s.


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