Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote was the highest bidder for a dryland ranch located just outside Billings, Montana, on March 26.
The purchase was significant to the Crow people, because it returns land back to the community. The 1,933-acre ranch of predominantly pastures dotted with ponderosa pine, sagebrush and rimrocks was sold to a white rancher in the 1950s. It is currently called the Hairpin Cavvy Ranch after the most recent owner’s brand of horses, reported the Billings Gazette.
Old Coyote out-bid about a half-dozen people at the auction held at the Hilton Garden Inn. The event was attended by nearly 80 people, of which 26 brought a $50,000 cashier’s check required to bid.
“It feels good,” Old Coyote told the Billings Gazette. “Instead of tribal lands receding, we’re actually gaining some lands back and that’s our whole intent.”
Once the tribe’s $989,400 purchase from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is completed, Crow leaders will determine how to use the ranch. The land has potential for continued grazing of horses or cattle, Old Coyote told the newspaper, or the property, which comes with a water well and two springs, could be used for housing.
The Crow Reservation is located in southeastern Montana, just south of Billings, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and many of the tribe’s 12,000 members live in and around Billings, Old Coyote said.