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Weekly Update from the Field June 11, 2009
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* Update from the Field
* Thunder Beings Bless Horse Butte Ceremony
* Quarantined Buffalo Rejected by Northern Arapaho
* BFC Needs Summer Volunteers in Yellowstone
* Last Words
* Kill Tally
NOTE: Updates from the Field will be coming to you every other week until mid-November,
when we will resume weekly distribution.
* Update from the Field
Bull bison in Yellowstone National Park. BFC file photo.
In the past two weeks, the Montana Department of Livestock, Yellowstone National Park, and other agencies have continued hazing, forcing wild buffalo off of Horse Butte and other areas along the Madison River corridor. These areas have no cattle, and never will. There is absolutely no excuse for the federal government to be foolishly wasting tax dollars to satisfy the selfish whims of Montana's livestock industry on our public lands, and private lands that welcome buffalo. If the three or four small hobby ranchers who live around Yellowstone and Gallatin National Forest don't want buffalo co-mingling with their cattle for the few short months they are present, then the Department of Livestock should hire a cowboy for those purposes, to monitor the ranches. The rest of the land should be available to roaming buffalo; the wounded earth needs their healing abilities.

The agents ever so rudely brought their hazing operations deep into Yellowstone National Park again this year, much to the chagrin of shocked park visitors. Yellowstone likes to sugarcoat hazing activities by saying "if we didn't haze them, we'd have to kill them," but for more than a decade they've been in the business of doing both. As we saw from the numerous broken legs, separated moms and babies, and the deteriorating condition of the buffalo, hazing is not benign. It is harmful, unnecessary harassment that causes stress, injury, and sometimes death. Ironically, harassing wildlife is illegal in Yellowstone, yet Park Rangers are doing it to buffalo with a smile, a wink, and tip of their cowboy hat.

Right now, Buffalo Field Campaign is deep within Yellowstone's interior, bringing the truth to inquiring minds and lovers of wild buffalo. We will spend the whole summer in the Park, speaking with park visitors about what has actually been taking place. Buffalo Field Campaign will show the realities of what Yellowstone and the Montana Department of Livestock are doing to America's last wild population of bison. And through our tabling efforts, we will help raise awareness and gain more support for the cessation of the harassment and killing of buffalo. Through meeting people like you, and building a strong advocacy for wild bison in Montana and throughout North America, we will continue to make ripples in the pond, turning them into waves, and one day the tidal wave will come that finally sets the buffalo free, like a flood upon the plain.

Roam Free!
* Thunder Beings Bless Horse Butte Ceremony
Chief Arvol Looking Horse and many friends of the buffalo gather on Horse Butte. BFC Darrell Geist photo.
On Sunday, May 31, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, traveled hundreds of miles, with his family, to come pray with us again for the buffalo. This was his first time coming to Horse Butte, where many of the last wild buffalo bring forth the next generation.

Nearly 200 people arrived to join the ceremony, coming from as close as right around the corner, and as far as California and South Dakota. New and familiar faces were ready to enter into something powerful, to open our hearts to the change for which we are all ready. We were there to give our collective energy and prayers to a place that the buffalo hold sacred. We gathered at the site of the Horse Butte trap; scorched earth, beaten down over the years by the brutality of agents harming and trapping wild buffalo. Fresh buffalo tracks were all over the place; they had already begun to reclaim and restore. And we were there to offer our prayers for the buffalo, to lend them our hearts, strength, energy; and to pray that the people who hurt the buffalo would soon see another way of being, a way of harmony and honoring, respect for the sacred earth upon which we all walk and which gives us all life.

Standing around a sacred fire, Chief Looking Horse reminded us that the circle we formed was inspired thousands of years ago by the buffalo, who gather in a circle to defend and protect their family; each one of us is part of the circle, a leader, an important voice to help defend the buffalo who can heal the wounded earth.

After weeks of hot, sunny days, large, dark clouds began to gather and approach, letting rain fall upon the earth, and all of us standing there. Chief Looking Horse laughed and said that the Thunder Beings were pleased. The rain and thunder were a good sign that our prayers were being heard. People sacrificed their comfort and embraced the rain and thunder; the thunder that could be the clouds bringing the storm, or a distant sound of many buffalo hooves running free, arriving to shake the earth awake once again.

You can read Chief Arvol Looking Horse's full statement and view additional photos.

Buffalo Field Campaign is so very honored and grateful to have Chief Looking Horse, Paula, and their family come to Montana to pray with us on the buffalo's chosen ground. Thank you so much for your time, your wisdom, and your generous and caring hearts. We give thanks to Karrie Taggart and Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, Rosalie Little Thunder and Seventh Generation Fund's Tatanka Oyate Project for helping make this ceremony possible. We thank all the beautiful buffalo people who were here with us in person and in spirit. We give thanks to Seeds of Peace and those who brought dishes for the wonderful community meal that followed. We look forward to meeting you all again - on Horse Butte, and throughout the vast lands of this country - in the midst of great buffalo herds living free.

On June 21, join Chief Arvol Looking Horse and many others by sharing a Sacred Fire wherever you may be. This is an international day of prayer for environmental peace; the Sacred Fire is a common thread among cultures globally and binds us all to one another and the earth mother that we all share.
* Quarantined Buffalo Rejected by Northern Arapaho
A young buffalo, born free in Yellowstone, confined to the government's quarantine feasibility study. BFC file photo.

The Northern Arapaho tribe was ready to welcome to the Wind River reservation forty-one captured Yellowstone buffalo who had suffered years of confinement and testing within a state-federal quarantine feasibility study, just north of Yellowstone in Corwin Springs, Montana. After years of testing, forty-one buffalo were deemed "disease free" and the Northern Arapaho tribe was ready to bring them home, honor them as wildlife, and provide them with 30,000 acres on which to roam. Buffalo advocates were pleased to know that these buffalo would finally be set free from their government tormentors, returning to a people who have co-evolved with these sacred beings for thousands of years.

On the heels of the tribe's announcement, however, the livestock industry of Wyoming and Montana raised a ruckus about allowing even disease-free buffalo to return to their native lands; by their objection they underscored the obvious issue that the war against bison is not about disease, but a prejudice against bison and control of grasslands. A bill was introduced in the Montana legislature which would have prevented the disease-free buffalo from going to the Wind River reservation, or anywhere else save the fenced in National Bison Range or the slaughterhouse. Luckily, that bill failed. The Northern Arapaho were free to proceed and the buffalo were ready to travel to their new home. Ironically, close upon the heels of the bill's failure, the Northern Arapaho suddenly announced that they no longer wanted the quarantined buffalo. It was stated they feared the emergence of latent brucellosis infection; the exact echo of the livestock industry's message. The Northern Arapaho had been so excited about the return of the buffalo. What could have changed their minds so suddenly? We can only imagine the disappointment and heartache of the people who were ready to welcome the return of the buffalo. What will happen to these buffalo now, and to the rest who remain in the government's scientific experiment? The slaughterhouse will likely be their final destination after all, just like the families they were stolen from. In the end, as we knew it would, the quarantine feasibility study has failed the buffalo. This series of events has shown again that the issue is not disease; otherwise all disease-free public bison herds would not be fenced in. It's all about the grass, and with the livestock industry in control, only cattle are free to enjoy it. And while the government attempted to disguise their quarantine project as a "restoration" program, it's very essence is a de-wilding program. Real bison restoration happens on the buffalo's terms, with one foot in front of the other, via migration corridors, not quarantines locked doors.
* BFC Needs Summer Volunteers in Yellowstone!
BFC is looking for summer volunteers to help with outreach in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Talking to park visitors who are in the company of the buffalo we are trying to protect is a great way to raise awareness and make more friends for the buffalo. If you would like to spend some or all of your summer with BFC, please contact Chris at volunteer@buffalofeildcampaign.org or call 406-646-0070.
See you in West Yellowstone in the land of the last wild buffalo!
* Last Words
"We are here once again to pray for the Pte Oyate, the four-legged relatives that have perished in Yellowstone and for the little ones born here into suffering... Let it be known that the habitat of the wild buffalo is sacred ground, a SACRED SITE for the Lakota, for all native people, and for all humanity who hold reverence for Creation... With deepest respect for the challenges of leadership, we call upon another relative, President Barack Obama, to join us to begin shaping a Nation-to-Nation agreement for the Yellowstone buffalo."

~Excerpted from a statement made by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, at a May 31, 2009 ceremony held on the Horse Butte Peninsula in honor of wild buffalo.
* Kill Tally
AMERICAN BISON ELIMINATED from the last wild population in the U.S.
2008-2009 Total: 18
2008-2009 Slaughter: 0
2008-2009 Hunt: 1
2008-2009 Quarantine: 0
2008-2009 Shot by Agents: 1
2008-2009 Highway Mortality: 16
2007-2008 Total: 1,631
Total Since 2000: 3,698*
*includes lethal government action, quarantine, hunts, highway mortalities
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Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
BFC is the only group working in the field every day in defense of the last wild buffalo population in the U.S.

Buffalo Field Campaign West Yellowstone Montana
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