By Natalie Margolis, volunteer coordinator
For the past two years, BFC has had the incredible honor of being invited to attend the Ft. Belknap Pow Wow, by our wonderful friends Catcher Cuts the Rope and his amazing family.
This year, Eric Leutzinger and I had the privilege of attending. Being amidst a culture that honors the buffalo as relatives and life-givers held in high esteem is amazing.
The Pow Wow is stunning. The bright colors, designs of regalia, ground-shaking drums, electrifying singing, and listening to indigenous language show how powerful and alive the traditional culture of the Aaniiih and Nakoda People is. Traditional ways are becoming stronger.
We brought good, organic food for everyone, grown at the Great Divide Farm run by buffalo family Kasi and Jesse Crocker, and we brought lots of information and stories about Buffalo Field Campaign. The Aaniiih and Nakoda were sharing their Pow Wow with us, so it only felt right to contribute in some way, and to give something back. Cuts the Rope explained how important the Give Away is. We brought salad wraps to several camps, passed out oatmeal cookies, and served dinner in honor of the last wild buffalo, which consisted of a delicious, thick potato soup, burritos, and other tasty, sustaining food donated by Jesse and Kasi. Sharing food is an opportunity to open up doors to more sharing.
People shared their beautiful stories with us and we told them what we know about what the buffalo have to go through. We explained the alarming circumstances that surround the hunt at the Yellowstone National Park border. We asked for help and encouraged many people to volunteer at the campaign. We also learned about traditions, people, and the land. The Aaniiih and Nakoda have been fighting to keep their water pure and land healthy for quite some time, and continue to do so.
We are grateful for the opportunity to visit Ft. Belknap and to attend the Pow Wow. It taught us more than I can describe here. Our original encounter with Catcher Cuts the Rope has blossomed into something powerful, and we have learned so much from Catcher, his family, and his people.
Taking the right steps, celebrating successes and sharing the path with others so we can all envision and create a better world is what we need to do. We will do it repeatedly until the buffalo are back on the land and nature is restored.