Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
We hope this message finds you in the company of friends
and family, enjoying time together and celebrating abundance
as the Harvest Season gives way to Winter's embrace.
Since we last wrote to you, three buffalo have been
killed in the hunt. Last week, on the hunt's opening
day, a bull was taken by a Montana hunter up near Gardiner,
along Yellowstone's northern boundary. Yesterday, two
buffalo were taken by a Confederated Salish-Kootenai
hunt party near West Yellowstone, along the Madison
River. This is the first year that the Salish-Kootenai
have exercised their treaty rights and come to hunt
wild buffalo. While it pains us to see the buffalo die,
especially without being given the the simple honor
of lands to freely roam, we imagine that these are sacred
days for the Salish-Kootenai as they re-enter into an
aspect of relationship with the buffalo. Yet, as Lakota
elder Rosalie Little Thunder makes effort to convey,
it is premature to take from the buffalo without first
giving something to them; a sacred exchange, mutually
beneficial. The buffalo need to walk their ancestral
lands, to walk back into the hearts of the people and
fill up the empty spaces before they can give themselves
to sustain others. These buffalo are all that is left
of the vast, migrating, abundance-giving herds, now
locked in a box and killed for crossing the line because
of economic interests and deep misunderstanding fueled
by government-backed industry propaganda. It is the
people's turn to give to the buffalo, but we have forgotten
and we just keep taking.
The human-buffalo relationship is thousands of years
old. On this continent it's nearly perfect balance lasted
so long because there were elements in place that are
sorely missing today: respect and relationship. Respect
for the delicate balance of the predator-prey relationship.
Respect for the interconnectedness and interdependence
of all things. The buffalo and the people were one.
They took care of each other. They were family, relatives.
The buffalo fed, sheltered, and clothed the people,
and the people honored the buffalo's way of life, and
laid no claims upon their freedom, put no laws upon
the grasses they could or could not eat. The buffalo
always had plenty and room to roam. The people held
no concept of domination, and they, too, had plenty.
There was a mutual relationship between the buffalo
and the people and everything upon the land was held
sacred. The buffalo embodied more than the basic physical
needs of the people - they were a manifestation of the
holy. The abundance shared by the people was a gift
from the buffalo. And then a different people arrived
with a very different way of seeing and a way of insisting
on control, of asserting dominion over all other living
things. So, here we are today. The fences are everywhere.
The lines have been drawn, but the buffalo offer hope.
The buffalo keep trying to show us that the old way
is still possible. It is not too late. We can enter
into relationship with the buffalo and we can honor
them as fellow creatures of free will; creatures who
are free to move one foot in front of another in any
direction they choose, regardless of the imaginary lines
and barbed-wire fencing that the dominant-minded human
has drawn around them. Today, the buffalo give themselves
not to sustain a nation, but to show us the way. They
sacrifice their freedom and their lives in an attempt
to simply live as they have always tried to do, demonstrating
to us that we can change our own current, failing path.
Buffalo families - mothers, fathers, children, brothers,
sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers
- walk the land together as they always have, regardless
of the constant, senseless dangers that await them.
They try to show us what we have forgotten: that these
boundaries we have put in place hold no real meaning.
The buffalo will continue to give until we finally see
that we must give back before they give out.
This Harvest Season, we give thanks that there are still
wild buffalo, and we give thanks to all of you who hold
the buffalo in your hearts.
As you gather together with loved ones, with new and
familiar faces, please take the time to share the story
of the last wild buffalo and the vision we all share
of a world where wild buffalo roam free upon their ancestral
lands, and are once again an honored fellow creature
that invokes respect and awe within all of our hearts.
* Buffalo in the News
Schweitzer says he's dropping bison plan (Associated
Governor: No split-state status for brucellosis
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Guest Opinion: Outdated approach used to fight brucellosis
Open season on America's last wild bison (BFC press
* Last Words
We give-away our thanks to the earth
which gives us our home.
We give-away our thanks to the rivers and lakes
which give-away their water.
We give-away our thanks to the trees
which give-away fruit and nuts.
We give-away our thanks to the wind
which brings rain to water the plants.
We give-away our thanks to the sun
who give-saway warmth and light.
All beings on earth: the trees, the animals, the wind
and the rivers
give-away to one another so all is in balance.
We give-away our promise to begin to learn how to stay
in balance with all the earth.
~ Dolores La Chapelle