Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
As the buffalo fall migration begins, your tax dollars
have been hard at work this week with Department of
Livestock (DOL) agents out scouring the landscape for
"rougue" buffalo. Of course, any that
they find they will attempt to chase back into Yellowstone
National Park. As luck would have it, the buffalo are
good at making themselves invisible and avoiding the
wrath of the DOL. They are quite good at using
the dense willows and forests of their native habitat
to their advantage, enabling them to exist in relative
peace for a while. The agents have either continued
to come up empty-handed, or have just outright been
foiled again by the wily giants.
We find the DOL's behavior quite interesting since Montana's
canned hunt starts November 15. Imagine the outrage
from the hunting community if livestock agents were
out harassing elk or deer just before the start of hunting
season. If the people who want buffalo safe
and alive behaved the way the DOL are (moving buffalo
out of the 'hunt' area), we'd be cited for hunt sabotage.
The DOL's behavior plainly underscores the state and
federal government's prejudice against wild buffalo.
They want to lock the buffalo inside Yellowstone, denying
them of their natural instincts and right to survival
and freedom, except, of course, during the months (Nov-Feb)
they can be shot by gunners at the Park's boundary.
For that time, the buffalo are "welcome" on
a handful of acres within Montana's borders.
Meanwhile, as the last wild herd continues to suffer
harassment, slaughter and quarantine, buffalo "restoration"
is becoming a hot topic of conversation. This
week there was a conference in Denver, CO called "The
Ecological Future of the American Bison," focused
on bison restoration. Many thanks to Buffalo Warrior
Justine for attending conference, and for always standing
up for the wild buffalo and their perspective.
While the restoration buzz should be good news, the
unfortunate thing is that what government and certain
scientists consider restoration is a far cry from how
the buffalo and the land see it. Their ideas include
capturing wild Yellowstone buffalo, sending adults to
slaughter and calves to quarantine. The calves
spend years in confinement, being treated as livestock,
handled and experimented on by scientists. Many calves
are sent to slaughter for experiment's sake, and those
that suffer years in captivity and "graduate"
(as they put it) would be transported in trailers to
other public and tribal lands. The government
scientists even boast that they will "teach"
these now-domesticated buffalo "how to be wild
again." The sad truth is that the answer
is right in front of them, embodied in the last wild,
genetically unique, migrating Yellowstone bison.
Yet these groups and agencies allow brucellosis to scare
them from true buffalo restoration. Brucellosis,
as you know, is the European cattle disease that cattle
brought to this country's wildlife and the supposed
reason for the war against the Yellowstone buffalo.
Wild buffalo have never transmitted it, but this fact
continues to be ignored. And while many scientists
agree that natural dispersal of wildlife will curtail
the prevalence of the disease, their actions defy this
logic. So, brucellosis, for now, remains the smoke
screen that the decision-makers hide behind in order
to maintain control over the land and her inhabitants.
In this, restoration becomes a mockery of itself.
We must continue to dispel the myth and insist that
the restrictions are placed on the invasive cattle,
not our native wild buffalo.
As the last wild herd left in America, the Yellowstone
buffalo have an easy answer to the restoration question:
step aside and buffalo will restore themselves.
We as humans must relearn to coexist, to make room for
the great, wild creatures. We must piece back
together the habitat, the homeland, that we have so
selfishly fragmented, and welcome these magnificent
animals back home. Then, and only then, will buffalo
restoration with integrity be realized.
* Thank You Patagonia!
Patagonia, Inc., the ethical and famous outdoor clothing
company, continues to do great things for defenders
of our Mother Earth. They empower, inspire, and
help make possible the work of Buffalo Field Campaign
and many other ecology-minded organizations. Patagonia
helps keep BFC volunteers warm in the field with their
generous clothing donations; they generously support
us financially; their stores host many BFC presentations;
they pledge 1% of their sales to environmental groups;
they encourage people to Vote the Environment; they
created the "Save the Buffalo" post cards
addressed to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer that
so many of you have signed and sent in; and they helped
facilitate our billboard campaign, which has informed
thousands of visitors to Yellowstone of the injustice
suffered by the buffalo at the hands of Montana and
the National Park Service. Patagonia also has an environmental
internship program that allows employees to participate
in the work of the groups they support. Patagonia has
joined BFC on the front lines in West Yellowstone, placing
their very bodies into action in defense of the last
Patagonia also hosts the Tools for Grassroots Activists
Conference every eighteen months, bringing together
a variety of groups from around the globe. BFC
has been fortunate to attend this conference over the
years. Each one of us who attends comes back feeling
refreshed, inspired and truly empowered.
It is a place where activists can share their campaign
struggles and successes, learn from effective campaign
managers, network with incredible people, and come away
stronger and more inspired. Having just returned
from the latest Tools Conference, BFC wants to extend
a huge THANK YOU to Patagonia for all the great work
you have done and continue to do on behalf of the wild
buffalo and the forests, oceans, rivers, winds, wildlife
and all of us who share space on this beautiful blue
ball of life.
To learn more about Patagonia and their Tools for Grassroots
Activists conference, visit:
Check out Patagonia's environmental internship program
page and see a photo of Patagonia's Ron Hunter in a
BFC tipi, nice and warm in the frigid mid-January Yellowstone
* Last Words
Message from Chief Arvol Looking Horse.
Mitakuye (my relative),
I, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota,
and Nakota Nation, ask you to understand an Indigenous
perspective on what has happened in America, what we
call "Turtle Island." My words seek to unite
the global community through a message from our sacred
ceremonies to unite spiritually, each in our own ways
of beliefs in the Creator.
We have been warned from Ancient Prophecies of these
times we live in today, but have also been given a very
important message about a solution to turn these terrible
To understand the depth of this message you must recognize
the importance of Sacred Sites and realize the interconnectedness
of what is happening today, in reflection of the continued
massacres that are occurring on other lands and our
I have been learning about these important issues since
the age of 12, upon receiving the Sacred White Buffalo
Calf Pipe Bundle and its teachings. Our people
have striven to protect Sacred Sites from the beginning
of time. These places have been violated for centuries
and have brought us to the predicament that we are in
at the global level.
Look around you. Our Mother Earth is very ill from these
violations, and we are on the brink of destroying the
possibility of a healthy and nurturing survival for
generations to come, our children's children.
Our ancestors have been trying to protect our Sacred
Site called the Sacred Black Hills in South Dakota,
"Heart of Everything That Is," from continued
violations. Our ancestors never saw a satellite view
of this site, but now that those pictures are available,
we see that it is in the shape of a heart and, when
fast-forwarded, it looks like a heart pumping.
The Dine have been protecting Big Mountain, calling
it the liver, and we are suffering and going to suffer
more from the extraction of the coal from there and
the poison processes used in doing so.
The Aborigines have warned of the contaminating effects
of global warming on the Coral Reefs, which they see
as Mother Earth's blood purifier.
The Indigenous people of the rainforest relay that the
rainforest are the lungs of the planet and need protection.
The Gwich'in Nation has had to face oil drilling in
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, also
known to the Gwich'in as "Where life begins!"
The coastal plain is the birthplace of many life forms
of the Animal Nations. The death of these Animal Nations
will destroy Indigenous Nations in this territory.
As these destructive developments continue all over
the world, we will witness many more extinct Animal,
Plant, and Human Nations, because of mankind's misuse
of power and their lack of understanding of the "balance
The Indigenous people warn that these destructive developments
will cause havoc globally. There are many, many more
Indigenous awarenesses and knowledge about Mother Earth's
Sacred Sites, her Chakras, connections to our spirit
that will surely affect our future generations.
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. Our Ancestors foretold that water would someday
be for sale. Back then, this was hard to believe, since
the water was so plentiful, so pure, and so full of
energy, nutrition, and spirit.
Today we have to buy pure water, and even then the nutritional
minerals have been taken out; it's just empty liquid.
Someday water will be like gold, too expensive to afford.
Not everyone will have the right to drink safe water.
We fail to appreciate and honor our Sacred Sites, ripping
out the minerals and gifts that lay underneath them
as if Mother Earth were simply a resource, instead of
the Source of Life itself.
Attacking Nations and having to utilize more resources
to carry out destruction in the name of peace is not
the answer! We need to understand how all these decisions
affect the Global Nation; we will not be immune to its
repercussions. Allowing continual contamination of our
food and land is affecting the way we think.
A "disease of the mind" has set in world leaders
and many members of our global community, with their
belief that a solution of retaliation and destruction
of peoples will bring Peace.
In our Prophecies it is told that we are now at the
crossroads: Either unite spiritually as a Global Nation,
or be faced with chaos, disasters, diseases, and tears
from our relatives' eyes.
We are the only species that is destroying the Source
of Life, meaning Mother Earth, in the name of power,
mineral resources, and ownership of land, using chemicals
and methods of warfare that are doing irreversible damage,
as Mother Earth is becoming tired and cannot sustain
any more impacts of war.
I ask you to join me on this endeavor. Our vision is
for the Peoples of all continents, regardless of their
beliefs in the Creator, to come together. As one
at their Sacred Sites to pray and meditate and commune
with one another, thus promoting an energy shift to
heal our Mother Earth and achieve a universal consciousness
toward attaining Peace.
As each day passes, I ask all Nations to begin a global
effort, and remember to give thanks for the Sacred Food
that has been gifted to us by our Mother Earth, so the
nutritional energy of medicine can be guided to heal
our minds and spirits.
This new millennium will usher in an age of harmony
or it will bring the end of life as we know it. Starvation,
war, and toxic waste have been the hallmark of the Great
Myth of Progress and Development that ruled the last
To us, as caretakers of the heart of Mother Earth, falls
the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction.
You yourself are the one who must decide.
You alone - and only you - can make this crucial choice,
to walk in honor or to dishonor your relatives. On your
decision depends the fate of the entire World.
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to
personally decide the future of humankind.
Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people
in a time of such terrible danger?
Know that you yourself are essential to this World.
Believe that! Understand both the blessing and the burden
of that. You yourself are desperately needed to
save the soul of this World. Did you think you were
put here for something less? In a Sacred Hoop of Life,
there is no beginning and no ending!