The University of Lethbridge made history Wednesday by being one of the first post-secondary institutions in Canada to sign on to the Buffalo Treaty as a supporter. 

During  Indigenous Awareness Week on campus, the university signed on to  perpetuate all aspects of Indigenous cultures related to buffalo,  including customs, practices, beliefs, and ceremonies. The City of  Lethbridge was also present at the ceremony, adding to the signatures as  supporters, too. 

“Today  is a fantastic historic day for the signing of the treaty. The  University of Lethbridge has played a very important role, in fact, the  drafting of the Buffalo Treaty happened right here at the University of  Lethbridge,” said Leroy Little Bear, Vice-Provost for Indigenous  Relations at the University.

“The university is named in Blackfoot  after buffalo, Iniskim, which means scared buffalo stone. . . The  university has always had that relationship with the buffalo. The  buffalo is very important because it acts as a corridor for people to  come together. The ecologically, the buffalo plays a role in bringing  all these other animals, plants, and so on. It is an eco-engineer.”

On  Sept. 24, 2014, the first Buffalo Treaty was signed on the Blackfeet  Reservation near Browning, Montana. It was signed by eight First  Nations, four from the U.S., and four from Canada. Since 2014, around 50  other First Nations have signed the treaty, working in agreement to  work toward the educational and environmental objectives of the treaty.

“It  speaks about conservation, it speaks to culture, it speaks to  education, economics, and research, which are all areas that an  institution of higher education does,” said Little Bear. 

Members  from the City of Lethbridge were present at the ceremony, with mayor  Blaine Hyggen, and city councillors signing the treaty as supporters. 

“Dr.  Leroy Little Bear came and invited the City of Lethbridge through a  meeting with mayor Hyggen in regards to the ecological importance of  what this treaty symbolizes,” said Charlene Bruised Head-Mountain Horse. 

“There  is a huge commitment within the city council plan to work on building  positive relations with all Indigenous peoples here in the City of  Lethbridge. The symbolic nature of this is solidifying that there is a  connection and continuation for that work to be done.”

Looking to preserve culture, ecosystems, and the future, the Buffalo Treaty creates a connection towards working together. 

“We  are the first university in Canada to sign on to the treaty, and I  think the treaty is symbolic to the importance of the buffalo and  Indigenous communities,” said Mike Mahon, president and vice-chancellor  of the university. 

“It’s really symbolic to the relationship between our university and the nations.”

By Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 09, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta

Comments are Welcome - Use the 'Join the Discussion' above any replies, or 'TheRegional / Chat' below replies. Both links take you to the same place. You will be asked to become a registered user if you are not one already - Posts are moderated