We would like to thank everyone who became a signatory to BFC’s Report: Bison as a Species of Conservation Concern (PDF), which has been submitted to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest for their forest plan revision. We received overwhelming and powerful support! More than 2,200 individuals, 57 non-profit organizations, 23 businesses, 2 sovereign nations, and more signed on! We were deeply honored by some powerful signatories, including the Piikani Nation of the Blackfeet Confederacy, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (Hunkpati Oyate), Patagonia Clothing Company, Western Watersheds Project, Hey Bear! GOAL Tribal Coalition, the Center for Biological Diversity, Wild Earth Guardians, Deep Green Resistance, Prairie Protection Colorado, and many more! You can see all the signatories here.
We are humbled by everyone’s support, and would like to give special recognition to the Piikani Nation and the Hunkpati Oyate, sovereign nation buffalo cultures who have ancient and profound ties to the buffalo, and to what is called the Greater Yellowstone Area. Here we share with you excerpts from the letters they submitted as well as links to their letters in their entirety:
“Consistent with its record for the last three decades in Greater Yellowstone, USFS is following the pattern of federal agencies in ceding responsibility and authority to the tri-states, in this instance the State of Montana. In respect to the “Yellowstone” buffalo, this has and continues to prove disastrous, and has contributed to the multigenerational trauma suffered by our people who, when they witness and are exposed to the scenes of slaughter and captivity in the Gardiner Basin, relate those to what our ancestors endured. Innii, the buffalo (Bison bison), is our relative. To quote one of our elders, ‘We are the buffalo. We are Inniiwa’.”
~ Chief Stanley C. Grier — Chief of the Piikani Nation and President of the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs
“Regrettably, it appears from USFS’s Custer Gallatin draft assessment, that more of the entirely unsatisfactory policies and practices in respect to the buffalo will continue to be implemented for the foreseeable future. Should that be the case, we contend that USFS will be in violation of the federal-Indian trust responsibility, a catalog of contraventions that extends from abrogating treaty rights, to disregarding religious and spiritual freedoms, through to mandated procedural requirements that federal agencies must undertake when adopting policies a that impact affected tribal nations. Due to our cultural, ceremonial, and historical relationship with the buffalo, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is impacted by the Custer Gallatin decision, and the fate of the buffalo in the region. Our legal status and recognition by the federal government as an “Associated Tribe of Yellowstone” adds weight and validation, if any were needed….The Yellowstone buffalo are not just sacred to tribal people, they are a national treasure, America’s national mammal — they are wild, not domestic livestock, and they should be ‘managed’ as such, not as a zoo or artificial safari park population. The benefits for tribal people of listing the buffalo as a species of conservation concern and freeing them to return to habitats like the Custer Gallatin National Forest should, by this point in time, require no explanation or elaboration. Spiritually, culturally, educationally, and in a subsistence context, the lives of our people would be greatly enhanced on the long road toward healing. Providing for buffalo to roam in the Custer Gallatin National Forest will return, at least to that area, ecological balance, which is the definition of ’the best available science’.”
~ Chairman Brandon Sazue, Sr., Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (Hunkpati Oyate)
Our report has been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service. By becoming a signatory, you now have standing in whatever decision the Forest Service makes. We will keep you posted.