Whitni Nelson Buffalo Field Campaign Board of DirectorsI grew up in Boise, Idaho, a city at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains and full of opportunities to recreate in the great outdoors. My parents were avid outdoors people, and almost every weekend we would be off camping, backpacking, canoeing, and traveling obscure dirt roads to find a new and beautiful destination.

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.

Before I left Boise, while in college studying archaeology and Native American Studies, I was actively involved with the organizations Students for World Peace, Rainforest Action Network, and The Snake River Alliance (SRA). As an activist and a board member with SRA I was participating in cutting edge and practical ways to find solutions to some of our greatest environmental water quality issues in Southern Idaho, due to nuclear waste.

Whitni Nelson Buffalo Field Campaign Board of DirectorsAfter the winter of 1996/97, when the giant slaughter of wild bison occurred, I was introduced to a brand-new organization originally called Buffalo Nations (later to become BFC). This organization was out to help stop the slaughter of America's last wild bison. 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 1998.” 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.

When asked to become a board member in 2010 I was honored. I have always held a great fascination for and respect of native American life. Historically, bison were essential to the survival of the plains tribes. In the late 1800s General Phil Sheridan identified this relationship, and in a move to force the tribes to succumb to the white man's way of life he arranged the killing of over 60 million bison…leaving them to rot on the plains. I believe it is crucial to have tribal involvement in today's wild bison management issues.

My education has also led me down the path of midwifery. I have been assisting families throughout the childbearing experience since 1994. Currently my husband and I own a restaurant in Victor, Idaho, and grow a large organic garden to provide delicious and nutritious local veggies to the good people of Teton Valley, Idaho. Our Knotty Pine Supper Club has been a part of the continuing legacy of the Tatanka Music and Art Benefits.

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. I remember that winter of 1996-97 and I kept having dreams about bison and having to protect the bison in my dream. All that next year I continued to have dreams about bison, White Buffalo Calf Woman, and the Sacred Peace Pipe. And then my son was conceived during one of the greatest slaughters and winter kills of the same species since the old bison slaughters. We named him Dakota Ray Son of the Buffalo Sun in honor of the bison and that he would live in a day when the bison will once again roam free.

"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


Read about another BFC volunteer Board member - Iris Owen >>