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Weekly Update from the Field November 22, 2007
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* Update from the Field
* Buffalo in the News
* Last Words

* 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.

Roam Free,
* Buffalo in the News
Schweitzer says he's dropping bison plan (Associated Press)
Billings Gazette

Governor: No split-state status for brucellosis
Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Guest Opinion: Outdated approach used to fight brucellosis (EXCELLENT!!!)
Billings Gazette

Open season on America's last wild bison (BFC press release)
New West
* 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

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