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Turns out that all the meat from this Winter’s thousands of slaughtered Yellowstone bison (upwards of 1/3 of the entire herd) will be sold to food banks across Montana. 15,000 pounds of meat were sold.
The spokesperson for the deal said it was coming at an opportune time, since the recall of the 143 million pounds of beef were recalled after Humane society footage caught the business trying to raise “downed” cows (those to sick to stand) to get them to walk to their deaths in the slaughter house and that had diminished the amount of meat the food banks were able to offer to their clientele
(Nothing made me more sick than watching those videos of the poor, sick and dying cows, being hosed with water with fire fighting-strength water pressure to get them to stand. It is an image that will forever linger in my mind. Hosed. Sickening. Go support the Humane Society for their work in discovering this….)
But I digress.
These bison that have been butchered (literally, now, it seems) for DARING to leave Yellowstone in search of winter forage (snow too high in the park, hard to get to the scant forage below) migrate down and out to lower elevations. Seems natural, right? Elk do it; deer do it. Pronghorn do it. None of them get shot for trying to eat.
Problem here is that bison can carry a disease (brucellosis) that can cause cows to abort their fetuses. And if any cows in Montana get diagnosed with this disease, the whole state loses it’s “brucellosis free status” which is an economic disaster for people who raise cows to be killed in slaughterhouses described above so that fast food restaurants, school cafeterias etc. can have an abundant supply of beef.
So the bison — Yellowstone’s iconic animal, the symbol of the west — take the hit.
That’s the “buffalo problem” in a nutshell. Because Montana is a big “producer” of beef, the state and the Feds need to “protect” those “producers” from losing their ability to “produce.”
And the bison suffer for it.
I was heartened in a somewhat pathetic way to see that the bison slaughter had some meaning; I have long been completely unable to understand how anyone in America could be hungry with all our wealth, sophisticated philanthropy, and abundance of “producers” of beef, chicken, etc. I support Food Banks because I think that being able to feed yourself and your children is a basic right.
The announcement that the Yellowstone bison’s death will help those who cannot afford to purchase beef is somewhat ironic, no? But I am glad for it nonetheless. If they had to die, best they and their spirits should live on in service to those who are in need.
But it’s ironic all the same.
I think goats are horribly underrated as companions. When I worked at a famous author’s barn I visited the horses he boarded after work each night; one was so terribly afraid of being alone he would rear up in his paddock, pace back and forth and wsa generally miserable… until they added a goat into his paddock who was named… Billy.
This goat and this horse bonded so intensely and within a day, the horse was completely chilled out. However, every show the horse went to, along went Billy, too. Seemed that the horse performed better when Billy was along for the ride.
Inter-species bonding… always fascinating. I loved those two together.
Back in the late 1880s, there was massive slaughtering of bison. (This is from the National Park Service’s archive.) Can you imagine if these were golden retriever, horse or cat skulls? You can only imagine the outcry. Yet here’s this guy, proudly posing by them.
Then there’s this one:
So much hatred for wildlife. So much hatred of the Buffalo!
I looked at these and remembered similar photos from Germany and Poland — only then it was people.
What is wrong with everyone?
Two Huge Events for Bison this Week
There were about 100 of us, in a circle within sight of the capture facility. Warm, then as the ceremony started, whipping wind, snow. wind so loud and hard those of us downwind could not hear a thing. Drumming, prayer in Lakota, Translations from Rosalie Little Thunder. The spirit of the bison flying, swirling, circling overhead and back again. Cold. Real. Righteous.
Then, quiet. Calm. Weak sunshine. The Chief offered the pipe. He came and thanked/blessed everyone in the circle. When he got to me, I looked into his eyes, his face, the deep lines. I thought of how we Americans in our quest o conquer land and get a piece of it for ourselves drove these folks off what they thought and believed was THEIR land (whose land is it, REALLY???) and now they live on “reservations” and have disease (alcoholism, diabetes). What “we” did to these people is incredible. What we did to African Americans is incredible. What Germans did to Jews and others in incredible. We are such hateful people on one hand, no? So much driving for control, for “our piece of the pie” to dominate, to “have it our way.”
Yet, here was Chief Arvol, traveling from the Dakotas to perform a brief ceremony for the spirit of the bison.
I noted how there was another “Chief” who traveled this week to come perform ceremony — the Pope. There he was in his multi billion dollar plane, security force, etc. etc. etc., meeting with the President who called him “the Holy Father”.
But there was another Holy Father who also traveled to bless his people, to speak of change, to speak of injustice, to try and right a wrong…. Chief Arvol.
The great news is that the very next day, (as my friend Kerri says, “Is it odd or is it God??” ) the word came down that an historic agreement had been reached that will allow bison — for the first time in 100 years — the opportunity to leave the Park LEGALLY (yeah, I know, it’s beyond believe that wildlife is managed like errant puppy dogs, but that’s ANOTHER post…). Press conference yesterday, forest service, Park service, the Governor of Montana, enviro groups that had been integral to making the deal happen, reporters… crammed in a room.. the Governor announcing the news.) Of course, there are caveats, caveats that are on the one hand sickening (there will only be 25 allowed, they have to test sero-negative for Brucellosis, they may have to have vaginal implants, etc, etc.) BUT in this modern world with its laws, competing interests, and fear, the animals ALWAYS COME LAST and so again, will the bison. BUT… and this is an important BUT … there is a break in the 100-year old log-jam of rules and bureaucracy and some … SOME!!!! .. can be free to roam.
Symbolically this is huge. Did Chief Arvol and the prayers of those of us who gathered on the windy, dusty land just north of the Roosevelt arch help? Only the wind knows….
Here it is:
Mi-ta-ku-ye (my relatives),
I have been called upon to perform the Spirit Releasing ceremony for
the thousands of buffalo that have lost their lives in the last decade, in
the mountains of the Yellowstone River country.
Many, many generations ago, our relatives, the Pte O-ya-te (Buffalo
People) came up from Wind Cave in the Black Hills; the heart of Un-ci
Ma-ka (Grandmother Earth) and prepared the way for our existence.
From that time forward, they gave of themselves for our survival, as
long as we respected their gift. They taught us how to live in an
honorable and respectful way by example and through the teachings
of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. She brought the Sacred Canupa
(Pipe) to remind us of our responsibilities and also provided us with
the knowledge of the sacred rites that are necessary to discipline
From the Buffalo Nation, our ancestors learned to have an honorable
relationship of being connected with Un-ci Ma-ka; this “way of life”
that identifies us of who we are as an O-ya-te (a People), with all it’s
sacred teachings. They understood the gifts from Un-ci and carefully
lived in harmony with her wellbeing. For that reason, we hold them to
be sacred. We co-existed in a good way until we were nearly
destroyed. Ob un-ka-so-ta-pi tka. The sacred Buffalo Nation in these
mountains are the survivors of that natural way of life. We are
culturally and spiritually indebted to them and we still need their
guidance, to remind us how to be at peace and harmony with Un-ci
Let it be known that Yellowstone territory; the habitat of the last wild
Buffalo Nation – is sacred ground, it has been a SACRED SITE for
the First Nation’s people, and for all humanity who hold deep respect
for all Creation. The Buffalo Nation has confirmed this fact; by where
they have ended up, continuing to survive in their natural migration,
struggling to live in a peaceful manner. Our ancestors also gave us
this message by fasting in this area long ago, as they recognized this
place of sacredness. This understanding is how we maintain the
balance upon Un-ci Ma-ka, to protect these places, especially for the
survival of our future generations to come.
These Buffalo that lost their lives in Yellowstone did not die by
Natural Law, nor were their spirits honored with ceremony. This is
why we must go there to perform a ceremony of honor for those that
lost their lives by the misunderstanding of human-kind and pray to
Wakan Tankan (Great Spirit) for pity of how gifts were unappreciated.
We must pray with all those who grieve and be grateful for them.
Many of the people who are deeply concerned of what has happened
in the manner of which their lives were taken; we see this as an un-
necessary massacre. We have known that this particular herd is the
last original Buffalo Nation that still follows their migration pattern, the
little that is left in tact; they are the sign of our connection to our
wellbeing of living in harmony. I humbly ask for all People to make
prayers on April 15th, at high noon; for a healing of humanity – for the
decisions that are being made with no regard for the sacredness of
life, for the massacred Buffalo’s spiritual journey and to protect what
is left – in understanding of what our journey in this life represents in
being responsible! We must pray for the healing of the human Spirit,
to understand the connection to all living beings on Un-ci Ma-ka.
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no beginning!
Can-te Mi-ta-wa I-ta-han (from my heart)
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
A Hot Spot, Indeed
Craig Chalquist has written convincingly about how a history of a place influences the activities there today (Terrapsychology, Spring Books, 2005). I’d like to go further and explore the idea that where you live, the actual earth you live on, has a profound effect on your psychology.
We have all had that experience of “feeling better” in one place, or “feeling weird” in another; or “feeling peaceful” in one place while not in another.
I am curious about energetics (no surprise) and I think they come from both the events of the past (Chalquist) AND the metaphysics of the location itself.
This idea has been growing in me since I moved to the southwest corner of Montana, where we are literally living on a caldera, an “inner volcano” as it were. What does that translate to, in terms of folks’ psychologies here? The obvious would be that “tempers run hot” that passion does as well, that folks “feel things” more intesnely here. Certainly reading the letters to the editor of my local paper proves those theories.
But what else about living on on hot spot? What else about living so close to water, steam and lava that is literally coming from the core of the Earth? It’s when we consider that vision that I think we are able to better discern the characteristics I’ve noticed while living here almost three years.
1) The intuitives here seem to go deeper, faster, than any other I’ve studied with.
2) The veil is thinner here — folks report huge dreams, visions. (That could as well have to do with the immense native american presence and history).
I will write more about this tomorrow; but in the meantime, look at this:
There is also a great link on Yellowstone’s web site: www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/norris.htm which you can visit to check out the various hot spots and geyers. There are so many of them! It’s rumoured that there are many hundreds in Yellowstone. These are the ones the Park service knows about and has researched.
Really, when you stop and think about it, WHAT IS THIS?????? Geologists can use science to explain, but if we look symbolically, and ponder what it might mean to live on this land, it takes one’s breath away.
Here’s a link to the press release which tells more about what’s going to happen on Tuesday at noon in Gardiner. Please come if you can; if not, join in spirit.
Come Pray for the Bison
More when I get it, but next Tuesday, a high Chief from a native tribe is making a rare trip to Montana to do a special ceremony for the thousands of Yellowstone bison that have been rounded up, hazed and sent to slaughter this winter. Please come if you can. For more info:
So it’s supposed to be Spring; awoke this morning to near blizzard conditions. Can barely see out the window; thick beautiful flakes. No deer. No signs of birds.
Last night, when I got home, it was still very light, and I sat on the porch and listened really deeply to the sounds of dusk in Montana, and all I heard was birds and ducks. And, sand hill cranes! They are back!
Lisa and I first saw a pair the first Spring we were in Montana; they looked from a distance like prehistoric animals that’d come back to life, standing in an open field. We saw them closer on a bikeride one night, through the binoculars, and they were stunning. A few weeks later, we saw they’d had a baby. We watched that family all summer as the moved back and forth from one field to the next in the Valley in which we live. One night we watched the father obviously trying to teach his youngster to fl y. He’d honk, hop and flap, and then patiently wait to see if Jr. would mimic his actions.
It was so joyful and so wonderful. This species has become one of our most beloved neighbors here in the country where we live.
There is a wonderful book called…. Ecopsychology. Published awhile ago. Lots of different articles. But it is so rich and filled with well-reasoned pieces about the connection between the natural world and our mental health. Or lack thereof.
Check it out.