Dear Buffalo Supporters,
It has been a phenomenal few weeks since my last edition of On the Buffalo Trail. I am constantly amazed at the events and experiences I have as I walk with Yellowstone Buffalo. This past few weeks will be at the top of my memories because of the awareness, sharing, and symbolism I had experienced representing the Campaign.
On July 12-15, I attended the 2022 International Bison Convention held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The theme for this convention was “Strength in the Herd”. Held every 5 years, the convention was an inspiring and informative event. While there I interacted with bison conservationists, Canadian preserve managers, private growers, bison geneticists, First Nations chiefs, handling experts, and the list goes on. The diverse gathering reflected that unity and togetherness. I networked throughout the event. Everyone I spoke to is in support of the Campaign’s mission. As is to be expected, those closest to bison understand the unique and cherished nature of wild Yellowstone bison. It is clear there are very few intact, large ecosystems capable of sustaining a population of the size necessary to protect their genetic viability. The Yellowstone Ecosystem is such a place. Wild, migratory bison are worthy of protection and advocacy as a keystone species within the ecosystem. At no time did I hear that translocation of Yellowstone bison should be a priority over appropriate, science-based population management. On the contrary, it was gratifying to hear the reverence for Yellowstone bison that was pervasive throughout the gathering.
Another significant event that took place during the convention was a signing ceremony for the [Inter-tribal Buffalo Treaty], at the [Wanuskewin Heritage Center]. As a Buffalo Emissary, it was empowering to read the language of the treaty that advocates for free-roaming bison as wildlife. As a signatory I vowed to take the treaty back to the Nez Perce Tribe, and advocate for its implementation there. Also signing the treaty were First Nations Chiefs, other tribal emissaries, nonprofit organizations, the mayor of Saskatoon, and masses of individual supporters. As a descendant of signatories to the Nez Perce Treaty of 1855, I was honored to make my mark upon the sacred document. The reception I received from the First Nation leaders in attendance was so warm and welcoming. I felt at home with the leaders as I listened to their wisdom and learned. I made acquaintance with private growers from Saskatchewan and Alberta, and we had a great time sharing our bison stories. They were informed and skeptical regarding the State of Montana’s deplorable track record for bison management. I spoke with federal conservationists and park managers. They were sympathetic to our mission and wished us well. The sharing was a powerful experience that I will treasure for the rest of my days.
We are doing right by wild, migratory bison in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. The North American bison community is watching. It is important we continue to stay true to our vision and mission, while finding common ground. Qeciyewyew (thank you) for standing with us, as we advance the mission.
For the Buffalo,
James L. Holt Sr., ED
“The Earth and I are of One Mind.”- Chief Joseph, Nimiipuu (Nez Perce)