Bison relocation to Native lands revives a spiritual bond

A herd of bison grazes during midday at a Cherokee Nation ranch in northeastern Oklahoma on Sept. 27. Decades after the last bison vanished from their tribal lands, the Cherokee Nation is part of a nationwide resurgence of Indigenous people seeking to reconnect with the humpbacked, shaggy-haired animals that occupy a crucial place in centuries-old tradition and belief. (AP Photo/Audrey Jackson)

BULL HOLLOW, Okla. – Ryan Mackey quietly sang a sacred Cherokee verse as he pulled a handful of tobacco out of a zip-close bag. Reaching over a barbed wire fence, he scattered the leaves onto the pasture where a growing herd of bison – popularly known as American buffalo – grazed in northeastern Oklahoma.

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