Rosalie Little Thunder
“We have a relationship with the buffalo, that….sustains us. But we owe, not only the buffalo, but the earth quite a bit. So I think a lot of it is not about what we get, our treaty rights, but what we have to give back….we have a relationship and an obligation.”
Rosalie Little Thunder (Kicikute Cokanun Win) - A Sicangu Lakota, Rosalie was a teacher of the Lakota language, protector of sacred sites and species, and co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. Rosalie fought for the wild buffalo of Yellowstone country and their freedom to roam until her last days. She left this world on August 9, 2014. We miss her every day, but she continues to guide us from the Other Side.
“The continued culling and even harvest in the north will continue to remove many central herd animals."
P.J. White, Yellowstone National Park bison biologist, at November 28th’s Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting. Yellowstone is recommending closing hunting in the Hebgen Basin, west of the Park, placing the conservation burden upon hunters, even though the Park recognizes that their capture-for-slaughter operations kill far more buffalo than hunters do. Whom does Yellowstone serve?
Rosalie Little Thunder
“Woableze’ is knowing that we do not survive unless the natural world lets us survive. It is knowing what will nurture and heal and the price that we must pay for this benevolence. It is knowing the ways of our brother the buffalo, the wise one. It is knowing that in order to survive in a good way, we must emulate this brother, a sacred species; a keystone species. ‘Tatanka iyacin’ is what we called that way. There are many other species on this planet that are held sacred, that are the indicators that all is not well. Humanity has moved further and further away from ‘wotakuye’; the relatedness of the universe. Man has put himself at odds with all that is, but there are some that still feel a strong sense of responsibility to keep us connected. These are the environmentalists that continue to raise the alarm; to whom we owe our future.”
Rosalie Little Thunder, cofounder of Buffalo Field Campaign
“[When] you go after buffalo, and you go on your hunt, you don’t just go run through the herd and boom! boom! kill what you want. That’s not what you do. You go into your herd and then they know you are hunting, then they’ll leave one behind. The one left behind is the one you get.”
Peggy Wellknownbuffalo, Crow Nation
"There is so much to be said and so much to know about the wonderful Yellowstone buffalo. Sadly though there is a simple doorway which must be walked through to access the deep knowledge, wisdom and beauty that the Yellowstone buffalo offer us as humans. That doorway lies in connecting the heart and the mind. This is what is so frustrating and depressing to those of us that know the Yellowstone buffalo, because we have walked through that doorway. But sadly the majority of people have not. Without taking this doorway, the real power of the Yellowstone buffalo can not be experienced. I do not have the answer that will lead people to that doorway. I wish I did, for it would end this horrible ignorant treatment of our powerful Yellowstone buffalo family.”
John Wolf, buffalo advocate, responding to the news about the dire straights of the Central herd.
“It is hard to fight for what you don’t know you’re missing. It’s harder still to fight an injustice you do not perceive an injustice but rather as just the way things are. How can you fight an injustice you never think about because it never occurs to you that things have ever been any different?”
Derrick is an amazing author, radical environmental activist, co-founder of Deep Green Resistance, and BFC advisory board member.
“When I learned [the buffalo] were being slaughtered in and around Yellowstone, I knew I had to act. Yellowstone had changed my life, giving me the courage and drive to move away from the East, from what was familiar. Yellowstone confirmed my suspicion that I was happier in the mountain wilds of the West than on the crowded shores of Cape Cod…..The following winter I learned of a group of people running daily patrols from a rented cabin, intent on stopping the slaughter. Armed with video cameras and direct-action tactics, Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers were spending all of their days with the bison, monitoring migrations out of the park and interfering with he DOL’s slaughter operations. As soon as I could, I traveled to West Yellowstone to help them. Originally planning on a weeklong visit, before the week was up I’d revised my plans to spend the winter. Since that week in December 1997, I have worked with the campaign as a volunteer, a media coordinator, a member of the group’s board of directors, and currently, an executive director. In the intervening years, more than 4,000 volunteers from around the world have joined us. From them I have learned a powerful lesson: Apathy is not omnipotent.”
Dan Brister, from his book In the Presence of Wild Buffalo, published in 2013.
“Crow has brought the message To the children of the sun For the return of the buffalo And for a better day to come You can kill my body You can damn my soul For not believing in your god And some world down below.”
Robbie Robertson, musician and songwriter
“To treat Yellowstone’s bison as political prisoners to promote the power control of the livestock industry is a national disgrace. The fact that this carnage has been on-going for decades without resolution is also a scandal.”
- George Wuerthner
General Nelson Miles
“When we get rid of the Indians and buffalo, the cattle will fill this country.”
- Nelson Miles, 1876
“So give them their habitat Let them heal and spill out over the land again Let them reconnect With the life that creation gave them And give them their respect and let them embody real freedom Let them roam and multiply and thrive Reintroduce them to earth and sky Because we believe that other beings, too, have rights Honor wildness and feed this grassroots redemption Respect live Respect and protect the wild bison.”
- Tim Gannon, from his powerful film, Protect the Wild Bison
“Buffalo or bison? I prefer the sound of the word and its more familiar common usage in the American vernacular. I like the memories and dreams it stirs, and its power to bring to life, if nowhere else but out imagination, the days when millions roamed our prairies. I like the way the word rumbles from deep in the chest and rises from within, migrating through the body with a resonance like the bass beat of hooves on hard earth.”
- Dan Brister, from his oustanding book, “In the Presence of Buffalo”
"The shaggy-headed swaggering bulls, the trim cows, the satyr-horned curious yearlings, and the gangly spunky calves, as they find their way in the life of the herd, speak to me of a wilder time, a time less measured by human profit and productivity."
- Douglas Gruenau, from Bison: Distant Thunder
"Buffalo Field Campaign is where you come to give back [to the buffalo, to the earth]."
- Michelle McCarron
We want the Earth again.
We want the Earth beneath our feet again.
If you do not love the Earth
and all her bounty,
then please, remove yourselves,
do not stay.
If you do not love this place
with all your heart
then give it back to us
who fertilized Her unfailingly--
perhaps our greatest gift!--
and grunted the daily language of
and of prayer.
~ Lyn Dalebout, from her poem This Bias Against Bison
Nancy Rae Clark
“His mystical breath
and wise ways
are our purpose
He is Tatanka
He is Relative
He is Meaning
and He is Meaning.
He is wild
He is our inspiration
to LIVE WILD
We still remain.”
- Nancy Rae Clark
“Our obligations and our loyalty have to be to the earth, and they have to be to our sense of community and to our people and our relations.”
- John Trudell
Japhy Ryder Sanchez
“I want to see the buffalo roam free. Want to see the babies play peacefully in the sage, and I want to see mother buffalo being able to calve on their traditional calving grounds.”
- Japhy Ryder Sanchez
“Surely the Great Spirit was made in our image. Touch us and you see the face of God.”
- Diane Glancey
“With all due respect, I'm hearing all these partners up here talk about, and ask the question, why the buffalo aren't using the wider tolerance zone, why there aren't more buffalo spread across a wider landscape, why there isn't more distribution; and I find it hard to believe that people are able to sit up there and ask that question with a straight face, and do that when a third to a quarter of the entire population was slaughtered this very season. If you wonder why there aren't more buffalo across a wider landscape, look to the trap that killed over seven hundred animals, look to the hunt that slaughtered almost every other animal that walked past the park borders. If you want buffalo spread across a larger landscape, stop killing every single one that steps across the border, stop killing a third to a quarter of the population every single year. The buffalo know how to do it. They don't need quarantine, they don't need translocation, they don't need shipment, they don't need our help. They just need to be allowed to go."
- Cindy Rosin, BFC Volunteer, an excerpt from her comments to the Interagency Bison Management Plan decision-makers.
“We don’t want anything to do with pens, ear tagging, cowboys chasing them, rounding them up. That’s livestock, cowboy stuff. Buffalo are wild animals, and we want to treat them as such and give them the respect they deserve, as we do with all other wildlife.”
- Richard Baldes
“Our zookeepers are sadists. We and the buffalos and the earth are just an experiment to the amerikans who have taken this land. Do not expect compassion from those with no heart. Resist them and never believe their words. They do not respect life.”
- Thomas Johnston
“How we treat the buffalo in Yellowstone really says a lot about who we are as a people, as a nation and as human beings.”
- Ray Goodwin, Sonoran Connection
"Cows run away from the storm while the buffalo charges toward it - and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment, I become the buffalo.”
- Wilma Mankiller, First female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
"…What we have is a cabal of stockmen, state veterinarians, legislators, and employees of the Board of Livestock using paranoia over “disease ridden” buffalo to perpetuate political control and an archaic, regressive mindset obsessed with dominating the natural world. These bad actors aim at nothing less than keeping the West under their thumb, perpetuating a regime that was instituted under the banner of Manifest Destiny. This despite the fact that the region’s economic and cultural health depends increasingly upon amenities rooted in wildlife and public lands."
- Louisa Wilcox, Grizzly Times. From her blog post Yellowstone Buffaloes Last Stand, recounting a visit inside Yellowstone’s buffalo trap.
Rep. Willis Curdy
"If there were only 3,000 animals left of any other species that species would be placed on the Endangered Species list."
- Rep. Willis Curdy, closing statement in support of HB 419, a bill amending MCA 81-2-120 to require only consultation with Montana’s state veterinarian in translocating buffalo in Montana. The bill was tabled in the House Agriculture committee.
Gary I. Johnson
The herd belongs to no man. The herd belongs to the land, the land belongs to the herd.
- Gary I. Johnson, as told to him by his indigenous grandfather
Nahko Bear & Medicine for the People, from the song Aloha Ke Akua
I’m into it...I'm into it
- Nahko Bear & Medicine for the People, from the song Aloha Ke Akua
Gwen Brown, BFC supporter
"I weep for you
when I look into your eyes
I pray for you
under dark and wintry skies.
The hunter comes and takes you away
and my heart aches -
no, it breaks
It shatters like those who loved
you are shattered -
Family, friends and spirits passed.
The government uses you like pawns
in a bitter game of chess
They chase you, they capture you
and never give you rest.
They prod you, they poke you
then beat upon their brazen chest.
The deer and antelope are free to roam
upon their land so free
But for you, my spirit guide,
They make a mockery of you and me.
I weep for you
under cold and starless nights
I pray for you
when I look into your eyes
That the heavens will open up for you
and hear the battle cry
To set you free
To let you be
Under deep blue and majestic skies.
- Gwen Brown, BFC supporter
"It’s freaky how much is done by so few
to counter the madness of a world gone askew
Against the psychotic lies that turn the screws
Against corporate plutocracy echo’d by Fox News
It’s indecent, shameful sinful and less
It’s mugging a grandma who is already bruised
Bile bubbles from the Body Politic
From every orifice it does ooze
This kinda news is only fit for the blues
Yer hardwired to thinking you can only lose
Against this tide, what can one possibly do?
That’s why we stand, stand for the land
Stand for the land, stand for choice
Stand for all the critters that don’t have a voice
Stand for wilderness
Not just in parks
Stand for the spirits, not just those closed in the dark
Stand for the mighty and low
Sand for the root hairs that make plants grow
Stand for the mighty buffalo
These peckerhead cowboys
These fat fucks in big trucks
These gun toting blowhards
Think they are the link
From frontier times to now
They are all addicted to welfare
And worship the cow
They have a deep fear
A fear of the real
A fear of the spirit they can not feel
With its snorting, its stamping and herding
With its massive girth
This visage terrorizes terrorists cowboys from birth
“Goddamn it, didn’t we all fill them with lead?
Didn’t we starve off the Indians by shooting them all dead?
Didn’t they holy trinity go on for infinity
Marlboro man, The Duke and Clint Eastwood!
All that mythology did us no good!”
For the bison spirit is rising
Buffalo spirit is strong on its throne at Yellowstone
And it makes cowboy blood curl
When people are drawn to that power from all over the world
And when we try to kill em
And we haze em when they leave out back
These scruffy hippy defenders are on the attack!
Exposing the lies
Hanging tough through many moon’s rotations
The buffalo defenders keep sucking in all the donations
It’s freaky how much is done by so few
To counter the madness of a world gone askew
So find something truly wild
And help it just be
Find your own inner animal
And set both of you free"
- Andrew Rodman
Sam Sheppard, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 3 Director
"We fully support operation of the trap. They've always done a good job of allowing enough bison to pass by ... for tribal and state hunters.”
- Sam Sheppard, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 3 Director
A Poem by g brown
Oh gentle beast
That roams the plain
Your heart is heavy
From the political game
You long to be
Peaceful, wild and free
Yet in the still of night
Or light of day
One by one
To take you away
A mother mourns its baby
Tears fall like rain from the sky
Rest softly my little one
I’ll never understand the how or why
You long to be free at last
And amble on your way
The family gathered oh so tight
In the present and distant past
We honor you on coins and flags
So majestic a sight to see
But when it comes to government
They’ll never let you be.
Oh, gentle beast
I will fight for you
As you amble on your way
My tears I will shed for you
Your burden I’ll take away-
Your freedom I will win for you
My voice will never sway.
-- g brown
Rick Wallen, Yellowstone National Park
“... We should manage bison like elk… For the long-term, the public debate and conversation needs to be about how we can manage wild bison, can we learn to live with bison on lands outside the national park? Otherwise, it’s just a reserve.”
-- Yellowstone's Rick Wallen during the mid-December media tour of the Stephens Creek buffalo trap
“Usually this column staunchly defends farmers and ranchers, but I can’t in a case like this where profit ranks higher than wild animals that were supposed to be protected at Yellowstone and the vast tracts of public land that the cattlemen are using.”
-- Bob Confer, columnist for the Lockport Journal, in a recent editorial titled Stop the Killing of Yellowstone’s Bison
David A. Dary
“Perhaps no animal in the history of any nation has ever played a more important role than the American bison.”
-- David A. Dary, The Buffalo Book
“Don’t separate issues of environmental degradation from the oppression of people… We cannot win one struggle without understanding the other.”
- Leonard Peltier
"If it can be said that relationships form us, or at the very least influence who we are, then the absence of this fundamental daily bond with wild, nonhuman others will change our sense of self, how we perceive our role in the world, and how we treat ourselves, other humans, and those who are still wild. If you see an animal in a zoo, you are in control...I look at the concrete walls, the glassed-in spaces, the moats, the electrified fences. I see the expressions on the animals’ faces, so different from the expressions of the wild animals I’ve seen. The central conceit of the zoo, and in fact the central conceit of this whole culture, is that all of these “others” have been placed here for us, that they do not have any existence independent of us, that the fish in the oceans are waiting there for us to catch them, that the trees in the forests stand ready for us to cut them down, that the animals in the zoo are there for us to be entertained by them."
-- Derrick Jensen, “Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos” excerpted in The Sun, November 2007.
"I pray to the sprit of thunder
And again to the wild restless wind
I want that the herds of our buffalo lost
Will walk in our valleys again"
~ Paul Clark, from "River of Darkness"
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
"There needs to be a fast move toward other forms of energy that are safe for all nations upon Mother Earth. We need to understand the types of minds that are continuing to destroy the spirit of our whole global community. Unless we do this, the powers of destruction will overwhelm us."
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
“The task of an activist is not to navigate around systems of oppression with as much personal integrity as possible. It’s to bring those systems down.”
~ Lierre Keith, Deep Green Resistance
Rosalie Little Thunder
“Remind yourself every morning, every morning, every morning: ‘I’m going to do something. I’ve made a commitment.’ Not for yourself, but beyond yourself. You belong to the collective. Don’t go wandering off or you will perish.”
~ Rosalie Little Thunder (1949 - 2014). Rosalie was a co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign and member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate; Burnt Thigh Band, of the Little Thunder Tiospaye and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. We miss her every day, though feel her with us always.
“But what if the point [of life] is not to rule, but to participate? What if life less resembles the board games Risk or Monopoly, and more resembles a symphony? What if the intent is not for the violin players to drown out the oboe players (or worse, bitterly drown them or at least drive them from the orchestra, and take their seats for more violin players to use), but to make music with them? What if the point is for us to attempt to learn our proper role in this symphony, and then play that role?”
~ Derrick Jensen, from his new book, The Myth of Human Supremacy
“Bison, bison, where did you go?
We’ve been missing you out on the prairie you roamed
Things haven’t been the same since you’ve been gone
We want you back and the fact is that this is where you belong.”
~ The Whizpops, Bison
Listen to the whole song on YouTube.
William T. Hornaday
“The wild things of this earth are not ours to do with as we please.”
~ William T. Hornaday, 1913
"We must be willing in our lifetime to deal with reality. It's not revolution; it's liberation. We want to be free of a value system that's being imposed on us... Liberation --we want to be free. But in order for us to be free we have to assume...our responsibility. We are going to have to struggle for it. We are going to have to work [and be] committed to it. We must never underestimate our enemy. Our enemy is committed against us 24 hours a day. They use 100% of their efforts to maintain their ...status quo. 100% of their effort goes into deceiving us and manipulating us against each other…"
~ John Trudell
I want to speak buffalo.
Many times ago the grass-eaters on the prairie. It was a day for honor. The herd walked the great plains. This way the herd walked. That. The little band of Indians followed. How they depended upon us. How we clothed their naked bodies. Fed their hungering stomachs. Provided hides for their teepees. We often spoke to them. Grunting in language they understood. There was nothing we didn’t give. But now we take our grasslands. Our lawn chairs and yard goods. Stampede to the other world. From the council-fire of heaven we are called. The Great Spirit speaks in soldiers’ guns. From trains they pass shooting.
Surely America was made for us. Remember how often we delighted you. Deciding how we would run through the prairie with the wind in our ears. Our large heads pure with mind. The Great Spirit great as he spoke. Yo. We were his. We grunted his praises. Snorted and roamed in his will. Our calves grew up in our strength. We were kings. We allowed death. We gave ourselves for the Indians.
We are called Savior buffalo. Señor buffalo. Grandmother buffalo. Mon duke buffalo. Lord and God buffalo. Surely the Great Spirit was made in our image. Touch us and you see the face of God. Our heads were angels fallen to the prairies. Touch us and you hear the grunting God.
Giant buffalo. Universal buffalo.
Surely the angels say we sing your four-legged song. Ancestor buffalo. We sing your grass-eating song. Ho ee yo. The clouds rumble over you. The wind-currents follow. The whole earth sings to you world-movers today. Yes the prairie highways remember your migrations. Put your feet on four little wheels. Roll on the knoll prairie. The creosote road-beds black as your nose. The grass once tall as your backs.
~ Diane Glancy
Hey Bear/GOAL Tribal Coalition
"Put another way, given the overwhelming reliance by Yellowstone’s grizzly bears on essentially four foods (lumping elk and bison together as ungulates), major losses of any one are almost certainly to have major impacts."
~ Hey Beart/GOAL Tribal Coalition, from their comments against delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears
May 5, 2016
Marty Two Bulls
~ Marty Two Bulls
“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.”
~ Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016)
Are the Koch Brothers to Blame?
"Ah, now things are starting to make sense. No matter how many signatures, letters and phone calls are submitted by citizens, unpopular environmental, wildlife and land-use legislation gets railroaded through anyway. No wonder iconic and nationally-cherished wolves can't catch a break, no matter how much scientific and peer-reviewed evidence is submitted on their behalf. No wonder America's iconic bison, in the world's most important, continually free-roaming, migratory and genetically-imperiled Yellowstone herd, are still being routinely rounded up and slaughtered while the state caters to the cattle industry. No wonder that, despite the Wild, Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the nation's beloved and iconic wild horses are still cruelly rounded up and sold to kill buyers, who will ship them across the border to meet horrifying deaths in Mexican slaughterhouses. No wonder the grizzly, held sacred by a multitude of tribes, might soon be in the crosshairs and trophy hunted on lands those tribes also hold as sacred. Against that kind of money, our voices, our rights, our country and our innocent wildlife don't stand a chance.”
~ Native News Uncensored. Many thanks to our friends at Hey Bear - GOAL Tribal Coalition for sharing this. Read the full article here.
Buffalo or Bison?
“I prefer the sound of the word “buffalo” and is more familiar usage in the American vernacular. I like the memories and dreams it stirs, its power to bring to life the days when millions roamed our prairies. I like the way the word rumbles from deep in the chest and rises from within, migrating through the body with a resonance like the bass beat of hooves on hard earth.”
~ Daniel Brister, In the Presence of Buffalo
Safe Passage for Wildlife
Why is Yellowstone Killing Wild Buffalo?
An Example for Yellowstone Park Rangers
Letter to Yellowstone National Park
"We, The People, demand that you and your henchmen
end the senseless hazing, trapping, and senseless slaughtering
of our wild buffalo IMMEDIATELY!!
The so-called "disease" (known as brucellosis)
was brought on by man, NOT BY BUFFALO!!
And so, quit lying to the people and
LEAVE OUR WILD BUFFALO ALONE!!!!!!!
Our buffalo were here first long before man even existed
and our indigenous tribes revere them very sacred!
Let me ask you this:
What gives you the right to play God?
What gives you the right to violate the
spiritual rights of our indigenous tribes?
AND what gives you the right to limit and/or suppress citizens'
First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly
by keeping us "confined" to a tiny spot
with 6 inches of snow on the ground
in the cold elements, denying me and my faithful
warriors the right to march throughout the park
and raise awareness to the public that
what you are doing is wrong?
It's clear that you have something to hide!!
Not only you violated our constitutional rights
and spiritual rights of our Native American/First Nations brethren,
but also obstructed justice by covering up
the crimes you're committing!!!
What you're doing is not only crimes against Nature
and felony animal cruelty, but also a flagrant act
of treason against the American people and the nation,
and YOU and your henchmen shall be held criminally accountable!!
It seems like the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply to you...
And adding insult to injury, violating "your own" law by harassing
our buffalo (and other wildlife) and it is YOU and your henchmen
who are in violation of the law and it is YOU and all your redneck
Bundy wannabe buddies who should be severely punished!!
Just because that you wear a badge does not give you
the right to be above the law!!
Yellowstone National Park and its sacred
wonders of Nature (including wolves and buffalo)
belong to the vast majority of the American public,
NOT to a mere handful of brainless government bureaucrats and
drunken redneck ranchers from the DOL
(along their ruthless wild-west mentality)!!
WE, THE PEOPLE, are disgusted at what you
are doing to our wild buffalo!!
And WE, THE PEOPLE are gonna continue speaking
out against your unlawful activity until the senseless
persecution of our wild buffalo is stopped or until
this old Earth is blown to Kingdom Come,
whichever comes first!!
Not only the whole world is watching,
but THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS WATCHING,
and NO MORTAL MAN IS SUPERIOR TO THE CREATOR!!!
Let this be known that the pain you've
inflicted upon Great Spirit's creations,
IS THE PAIN YOU (and your henchmen)
SHALL SUFFER...TWO, TO A THOUSAND FOLD!!!
For what I say unto to you is a prophecy and a curse!!
You can either change your ways and let our buffalo roam free
or face the ultimate consequences when the Creator implements
His final Judgment!!
Just remember that if our wildlife becomes extinct,
so shall mankind suffer the same fate!!"
~ Billy "The WiZaRd” Angus, wildlife advocate from Hamilton, Montana
“When I look at America now, going back to the treaty, this American generation, they don’t look at the treaty as having any validity. Alright, well, I’m going to say that that was an agreement made between their ancestors and my ancestors, and when they break that treaty like that, they’re telling me they have no spiritual connection to their past, no respect for their past."
~ John Trudell
Rosalie Little Thunder & Darrell Geist
"The Park is pursuing similar arrangements with other Tribal governments to set-up an operational quarantine – a livestock factory – to domesticate wild buffalo. Backing a trailer up to a trap in Yellowstone Park where buffalo are confined and transporting them to slaughter has nothing to do with tradition or the sacred or sovereign rights of tribes.
Our tribal councils and leaders are occupied with many challenges and do not have ready access to adequate information about the Yellowstone buffalo herd’s fate. Oftentimes decision-makers are distanced from their own councils and advisers, traditional and spiritual. Unfortunately, the decisions made on wild buffalo continue to serve the interests of the Montana Department of Livestock and the National Park Service first."
~ Rosalie Little Thunder, Pte Oyate & Darrell Geist, Buffalo Field Campaign. From An Open Letter to Tribal Leaders and the American People, 2014.
There Was a Time
~ Simon Combes
This time will come again!
"In 1880, [Montana] was practically uninhabited. One could travel for miles without seeing so much as a traveler's bivouac. Thousands of buffalo darkened the rolling plains. There were deer, elk, wolves and coyotes on every hill and in every ravine and thicket. . . . In the fall of 1883, there was not a buffalo remaining on the range and the antelope, elk, and deer were indeed scarce. . . [T]here were 600,000 head of cattle on the range. The cowboy . . . had become an institution.”
~ Granville Stuart, quoted in Donald Worster, Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
February 15, 1946 - December 8, 2015
Gardiner Basin Vacationer
A Slice of Life on the Northern Range of the Wild West
"I want to share with you my past few days. It includes indescribable peace and serenity, perseverance in survival, wild open spaces of wilderness and coexistence; yet, conflicted with the natural selection of the survival of the fittest vs. the chosen elimination of an unwelcome species. I will attempt this collection of events without my embellished opinion. This is a sector of my life in Montana/Wyoming that most never experience, and few fully understand.
The short story goes like this:
With word from reliable sources, over 27 wolves were counted in the Lamar [Valley] less than two weeks ago on one given day, prompting my desire for a road trip to Yellowstone with scope and camera in stow. A crisp 12-15 degrees as I drove towards the Lamar passing iconic herds of bison, elk, and a manageable flow of visitors. But no sign of wolves, only the sound in the distance of howling from many directions. I drove upon a ‘kill’ that 3 coyotes were feeding on, as a flock of ravens perched on the 6x6 rack still intact and upright as if the bull was bedded down for an afternoon rest. Truly a picturesque site of a food chain in progression. I spent 3 hours scoping the Lamar, but no wolves. Before heading north I had counted over 20 coyotes, 2 fox, and numerous birds of prey.
The next morning I woke to bull elk posturing next to the bedroom window of the small cabin where I stayed, only a few miles from the Park’s boundary. As the sun lit the morning sky, a small herd of bison were pacing on an island along the Yellowstone River… the park wildlife had followed me, so I smiled to myself. Midday I decided to drive to Gardiner, but noticed a gathering of trucks, cars, and trailers along the dirt road. Being curious, I turned the opposite direction of town and drove slowly by the gathering of people in camouflage armed with rifles. I asked one young man, “what are you hunting?” “Buffalo”, was his reply. My subliminal voice said, “Bison Bison”… As I continued northward, I saw a herd of bison in the middle of the dirt road walking toward me. A posse of several pickups was herding/pushing them southward in the direction of the clan of hunters. I immediately pulled off the side of the road and turned around to avoid the procession. My thoughts were validated; I was witnessing the process of hazing, or the official elimination of bison that have wandered beyond the boundary of YNP. A slaughter that was about to unfold and something that I had no intention of experiencing; The culling of a herd.
But before I could exit the scene, a state truck stopped me, and the Warden asked, “How many times do you plan on doing this?”
“Driving back and forth along this road. Can’t you see that those animals are being herded this direction?”
“Of course, that is why I turned around… I realize now that an Event is in process…. I haven’t been driving up and down this road, I’m staying over there."
“Yes, I know where you’re staying. Are you with the Buffalo Campaign?”
“Just a tax payer…………………………………."
“You best leave for your own safety.”
To add to my observation, I thought the Warden was wrapped a bit tight, and I felt he was implying that I was trespassing on public land. However, I would not have wanted his job on that day. I could have cut the tension with a dull knife. As I drove away, a few “hunters” exchanged a few verbals I didn’t understand, nor chose to respond to.
Decided to bag the town trip, as the encounter of it all crushed the mood for an outing. I returned 2 days later to the park with my cousin, Stacey, with anticipation of finding the wolves. None again, but counted another 8 coyotes all close to the road. But the wonder of the Lamar still rewarded us with its splendid beauty. Unfortunately, we had to pass the hazing program twice that day knowing that the bison we saw that morning roaming toward the boundary less than a mile away, would be dead by the time we returned to the cabin that night.
Sunday, at noon, we started to drive back home along the dirt road once scattered with herds of bison, elk, hundreds of pronghorns. Some elk remained (species other than bison were not hunted, of course), but all were lying down in close vicinity. The pronghorn remained. Few deer were seen. No hunters. No pickups or trailers. But birds of prey filled the sky; bald and golden eagles, hawks, ravens, osprey all in view, as well as countless piles of bison remains left on the land to be cleaned up by those that were not selected. The remains of the Day.
This past weekend was a collision of emotion: Coexistence. Can we?
~ Anonymous. Report from the experience of a person vacationing in the Gardiner Basin, near Beattie Gulch.
"My great-grandmother grew up in a sod house in Nebraska. When she was a tiny girl—in other words, only four human generations ago—there were still enough wild bison on the Plains that she was afraid lightning storms would spook them and they would trample her home. Who in Nebraska today worries about being trampled by bison? For that matter, who in Nebraska today even thinks about bison on a monthly, much less daily, basis...it’s hard to love what you don’t know you’re missing. It’s harder still to fight an injustice you do not perceive as an injustice but rather as just the way things are. How can you fight an injustice you never think about because it never occurs to you that things have ever been any different?”
~ Derrick Jensen