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Wolakota Rapidly Accelerates Toward Becoming Largest Native-Managed Herd

The herd at the REDCO’s Wolakota Buffalo Range is expected to surpass the milestone of 1,000 bison after calves are born next spring.

Photo: Robert Bordeaux, Sicangu CDC

SICANGU MAKOCE, Oceti Sakowin – Today leaders of the Wolakota Buffalo Range, community members, and project partners gathered to celebrate the historic growth and success of the project, which was launched last year by the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO). The celebration culminated with the release of an additional 60 plains bison, which were contributed by Wind Cave National Park.

Additional contributions from federally managed herds as well as acquisitions from private bison herds will bring the population of the herd to over 900 by the end of next month, which will make Wolakota the largest Native-managed bison herd in North America.

REDCO, the economic arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, secured a lease for nearly 28,000 acres of native grassland in early 2020. Major infrastructure investments were completed to safely accommodate the bison, and Wolakota welcomed the first 100 members of the herd in October 2020.

The Wolakota Buffalo Range combines Lakota ecological knowledge and social impact to create socioeconomic opportunity. “This project has been so successful because it embraces who we are as Lakota. We are buffalo people,” said Wayne Boyd, REDCO’s interim CEO. “We hope that others learn from Wolakota and see the impact that can be achieved by bringing together public, private, and tribal partners to healing our people and land,” added Boyd, who has served as the Chair of REDCO’s Board of Directors since the inception of the project.

The arrival of new bison and the rapid success of the range is made possible by a partnership between REDCO and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with support from Rosebud Tribal Land Enterprise, the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as private foundations. Wolakota offers a unique model for bringing large herds back to Native nations, while also contributing to WWF’s goal of restoring five herds of at least 1,000 bison each in the Northern Great Plains by 2025.

“The progress being made at Wolakota Buffalo Range has exceeded all expectations. If someone had told me at the outset of the project that after only two years we would near 900 bison on 20,000 acres I would not have believed them,” said Dennis Jorgensen, bison program manager at WWF. “This accomplishment is a testament to the remarkable work of REDCO and what can be achieved when you unify a community vision and the energy of the American public, an NGO, Federal and Tribal government, philanthropy and corporations around the cause of bringing buffalo home to the buffalo people of the Plains.”

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About the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation

REDCO is the economic development arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is based on what is commonly known today as the Rosebud Reservation in southcentral South Dakota. REDCO leads an ecosystem of organizations working in tandem to create systemic change grounded in Lakota values. REDCO primarily focuses on enterprise and policy, while its sister organizations Sicangu CDC ( and Tatanka Funds ( focus on grassroots community development and asset building, respectively.

REDCO MEDIA CONTACT: Aaron Epps | (715) 896-1051 |

WWF MEDIA CONTACT: Susan McCarthy | 978-853-7752 |

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