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Sept. 17, 2023
The collapse of the teeming bison herds that once blackened the prairie was an economic catastrophe that still affects those who once depended on them, new research suggests.
“Economic opportunity is determined in part by history,” said Donn Feir, an economic historian at the University of Victoria and one of three authors of a recently published paper on the lingering economic impact of that near-extinction.
“When you look at the landscape of economic development and Indigenous economic growth in Canada and the U.S., you have to keep in mind that history is still very much with us.”
Feir and her colleagues used data collected by long-ago government agents and anthropologists to compare how the loss of the bison affected First Nations that depended on them with those that didn’t. They conclude that loss, together with reduced access to institutions such as banks, marked those nations physically and economically.