Bison are called buffalo by Indigenous people.
In the United States, it was congressionally encouraged to eliminate the buffalo to subjugate Native Americans to reservations, starving them into submission and then take the land, believe many Native Americans.
A mass bison slaughter began in the late 1700s. Millions were killed and buffalo were brought to the edge of extinction.
During the 1800s, North America had an estimated 60 millions plains bison.
By there late 1880s, there were only 281 plains bison left. The Native population dropped to less than 300,000.
President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1907, ordered federal bison herds to be in federal parks, in order to save the species.
For the Europeans, the bison was a commodity. And later, Americans massacred them by the millions in organized hunts. The government gave hunters ammo to kill the bison with.
During a 1871 hunt "Buffalo Bill" Cody told a group of government sponsored hunters, "Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone."
Bison are, now, climate heroes. Indigenous tribes are leading the effort to bring back bison - a victory not only for their sake of biodiversity, but for the entire ecosystem they nurture.
"Buffalo is the original climate regulator" reports Troy Heinert, a Sicangu Lakota tribe member and director of the Intertribal Buffalo Council.
The buffalo/bison support a huge range of other species, including migratory birds that feed off the insects that thrive on bison dung.
Colossal herds of bison won't roam North America again, anytime soon.
Today only about 420,000 remain in commercial herds and another 20,000 or so are in "conservation herds".
The Intertribal Buffalo Council, a group of 80 tribes, transferred 5,000 bison to tribes.
Tribes have received conservation buffalo from government agencies, non profit groups, and other tribes.
Interior Secretary Deb Harland earmarked $25 million to help with tribal bison restoration.
In Oklahoma, the Yuchi identity with the bison in part because they, two, were targeted for extinction but survived. The Yuchi is the only federally non-recognized tribe in the state.
Yuchi tribal leaders say "Our people were kicked out, forced out of the tribal homes and moved to Oklahoma, but we brought our ceremonial fires with us. We have been signing the buffalo dance song every summer solstice for the last 200 years'.
For many tribes, the buffalo are sacred animals that nourished their people and played an important ceremonial role.
Reintroducing bison as a food source has been essential within tribal lands. Indigenous people have the highest rate of diabetes. Now many tribes have put lean buffalo meat into school lunches.
The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, located in Southwestern Oklahoma, has protected unique wildlife habitats since 1901 and is the oldest managed wildlife facility in the country.
Measuring 59,000 plus acres , the refuge hosts a diversity of species: 806 plant species, 240 species of birds, 36 fish and reptiles along with amphibians are present. Several species of larger mammals make their home there.
Prairie dogs have been eliminated from more than 95 percent of their grassland habitat and the vast and complicated ecosystems they sustain, face a new and deadly threat.
Prairie dogs are ground squirrels that sound and act like dogs. They bark, sit erect, wag their tails.
They exchange "kisses" with jaws agape.
The prairie dogs wrestle like puppies.
When you clean out prairie dogs you clean out many other wildlife animals.
As prey they feed all manner of mammals and avian carnivores along with scavengers.
Other animals use their tunnels as shelter. At least 150 other species benefit from prairie dogs.
Oklahoma saved the Texas Longhorn.
Experts estimate more than 10 million Texas longhorns were driven north to be sold in markets between 1866 and 1890.
By 1900, the longhorn was nearly bred out of existence.
In Texas, where old timers had experienced cattle drives, a heartfelt sympathy for the vanishing breed began to ripple across the region.
The aftershocks were were felt in Oklahoma, where old cattlemen like William Drummond recognized the longhorn was becoming a ghost of the past.
Drummond, a forest ranger in the Oklahoma preserve, introduced the idea of the saving the purebred longhorn in the Wichita Mountains.
In 1927, the U.S. Forest Service was given $3,000 for the great experiment. Thousands of cattle were examined.
In August 1927, three bulls, 20 cows and two heifers, two bull calves and three show steers were shipped to Oklahoma.
A former cattleman said "If I am preserving this herd for me, I'm doing something wrong. I'm helping to preserve this herd for future generations."