Friends old and new gathered in West Yellowstone over Memorial Day weekend to celebrate BFC’s 20-year anniversary. The incredible event included past, present and future volunteers, staff, members of BFC's advisory board and board of directors, and friends. BFC headquarters had the feel of a festival with tents everywhere, creative school buses, kids and dogs running about, everyone laughing and sharing stories, and planning for the future.
While camp was bustling with all the friends staying with us, the events took place in the town of West Yellowstone at the historic Union Pacific Dining Hall. Our famous buffaloon stood guard to welcome visitors into the halls where we had a silent auction, information tables, a memorial buffalo for close family we have lost over the years, and a beautiful dining arrangement where we shared incredible meals prepared by the skilled and loving hands of cooks from Seeds of Peace. There were some amazing presentations including a brief history of BFC by our co-founder Mike Mease. Dr. Nathan Varley shared an incredibly informative ecological history of the relationship between wolves and buffalo, and Dr. David Mattson presented the fascinating relationship between bears and buffalo spanning time all the way back to when Bison latifrons and woolly mammoths roamed the earth. This portion of events closed with a roast of our dear brother and executive director, Dan Brister, who has decided to step down and take on the challenge of law school, starting in August. This will be a profound change for us on every level of BFC life, as Dan has been with us from the very start, is the wizard behind everything we do and every word we say, making it all work, and not least, he is one of our very best friends. As the irreplaceable Danny B exits, our talented brother Ken Cole, who we are “stealing” from our sibling organization Western Watersheds Project, will step in as executive director.
(Photo by: Michelle McCarron)
BFC’s Mike Mease and Stephany Seay were deeply honored by our Aaniiih-Nakoda brother Catcher Cuts the Rope, who performed traditional naming ceremonies, bestowing each with Aaniiih names. Mike was gifted with the name “Buffalo Horn” and Stephany was blessed with “Buffalo Heart Woman.” Earning and receiving these names was such a profound and humbling honor. They come with great responsibility as we continue our journey in dedication to defending wild buffalo. We then asked each of our board, staff, and volunteers to share stories about what it means to be part of BFC and stand with the buffalo, which brought many tears and lots of laughter, and a focused commitment to addressing and ending the horrors that continue in the Gardiner Basin. Phil Little Thunder, cousin to our beloved co-founder Rosalie Little Thunder, led us in a beautiful prayer before our meals together, and soon after we feasted, the Dodgy Mountain Men took the stage and brought the dance floor alive!
Being with all of these friends let us know what a strong and growing family we are. When we come together like this we see the magic that the buffalo are creating and how they have called all of these people to their aid while at the same time creating this incredible family. There is nothing else like this on earth and it is an amazing gift that the buffalo have given us. We are blessed to be a family of real human beings remembering how to live with respect and humility on this beautiful Earth and to defend her by any means necessary. As we celebrated, wild buffalo grazed, played, and relaxed without threat of harm or harassment on their newly gained ground on Horse Butte. Imagine what we will accomplish in the next twenty years.
The tents have come down, the buses, dogs, and kids have departed, our loved ones have returned to their far-away places, and another field season has come to a close. We had an incredible crew of awesome coordinators and volunteers, and saying good bye is never easy. It is a bittersweet time as most of us must leave the buffalo, our home here, and our family until summer becomes fall once again and we return to stand our ground along with and in defense of wild buffalo. Until then, the focus here will shift to our summer outreach program, distributing calendars and newsletters, monitoring the buffalo who remain on Horse Butte, keeping busy with summer maintenance projects, gearing up for the West Coast Road Show, and pressing on with endless pressure, endlessly applied. Thank you all for being with us for wild buffalo and for making it possible for us to be here creating positive change.
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!