As a child we traveled often to Yellowstone National Park. My memories there are of giant elk & bison herds, and geysers and landscapes that seemed from a different planet. This upbringing instilled in me a great desire to see the wild places and wild animals stay wild. It is no wonder that as I became an adult and started raising my own family, I ended up in Victor, Idaho…a small town nestled at the foot of Grand Teton National Park and within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
After the winter of 1996/97, when the giant slaughter of wild bison occurred, I was introduced to this brand-new organization originally called Buffalo Nations (later to become BFC). I was living in Drigg’s, Idaho. Pete Leusch introduced me to a young Native American man, (Jeremy?) He was visiting Pete and told me all about Buffalo Nations. I was fired up. It made complete sense to me and I immediately knew that I would have to do whatever I could to see this campaign through.
I first visited the campaign outside of West Yellowstone in September of 1998 with a newborn, two toddlers, and a group of about 7 friends who were also interested in and passionate about wild bison survival. Incredibly inspired and devastated, after that experience we started organizing a public event in Boise called “Tatanka.” We had great success, and through an outpouring of support we raised thousands of dollars for the campaign to help keep patrols in the field to protect wild bison. Right about then I realized I would be a part of BFC until it was no longer necessary to be a voice for these magnificent beings.
As you all know, I am a mother to three amazing young men, Cedar, Elijah and Dakota. They have all been a part of BFC growing up. In fact, my oldest, Cedar, came by himself for a couple of weeks in fourth grade as a sort of right of passage. He went on patrols and was a passionate participant in life at camp. Our youngest son, Dakota Ray Son of the Buffalo Sun, named in honor of the bison and that he would live in a day when the bison will once again roam free.
I believe now more then ever that we must do everything in our power to see Wild Bison protected forever. These Wild Bison must be distinguished from domesticated bison so that we can get them on the Endangered Species list. These bison hold the key to a wisdom that can only be passed down through genetics, DNA. I truly honor the relationship that the bison and Natives have. I believe that tribal support and input is crucial. And I believe that we must honor their relationship and learn from them.
"We must protect the forest for our children, grandchildren, and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who cannot speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish, and trees." Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation