To return bison to the Great Plains area of our proposed Great Plains-Canadian River National Park. To continue to educate people about their importance to healthy grassland and to ensure the slaughter is stopped on the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.
If there is an animal that defines the majesty of the Great Plains and the heartbreak that was the genocide of the Native American people it is the bison. What they endured at the hands of settlers moving west remains one of the great tragedies of American history. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized. The surviving species are the American bison, also known as the American buffalo (although it is only distantly related to the true buffalo), Bison bison, found in North America, and the European bison, or wisent (Bison bonasus), found in Europe and the Caucasus. The North American species is composed of two subspecies, the plains bison, Bison bison bison, and the wood bison, Bison bison athabascae.
In New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska and Montana former cable magnet Ted Turner owns a series of beautiful and massive ranches where he raises bison for his chain of restaurants nationally. In Yellowstone National Park, there is found the last of the wild bison that were originally brought in from Canada and today thrive in the Park. There is also an unusual situation that has developed in the park in the later months of the winter where bison in deep snows near Yellowstone Lake have become a feast for wolf packs creating some very large and amazing wolves.
What Bison need:
Stop the slaughter on the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.
Write Montana’s Senators, tell them to stop the brucellosis fantasy that Montana Cattlemen and others continue to spread.
Support the Buffalo Field Campaign that is in the field doing the hard work to protect bison.
Push for bison to be reintroduced in our proposed Great Plains National Park. Write New Mexico’s Senators today.
Continue to work for less cattle and more bison in the American West.
Native American Lore
When the buffalo first came to be upon the land, they were not friendly to the people. When the hunters tried to coax them over the cliffs for the good of the villages, they were reluctant to offer themselves up. They did not relish being turned into blankets and dried flesh for winter rations. They did not want their hooves and horn to become tools and utensils nor did they welcome their sinew being used for sewing. "No, no," they said. We won't fall into your traps. And we will not fall for your tricks." So when the hunters guided them towards the abyss, they would always turn aside at the very last moment. With this lack of cooperation, it seemed the villagers would be hungry and cold and ragged all winter long.
Now one of the hunters' had a daughter who was very proud of her father's skill with the bow. During the fullness of summer, he always brought her the best of hides to dress, and she in turn would work the deerskins into the softest, whitest of garments for him to wear. Her own dresses were like the down of a snow goose, and the moccasins she made for the children and the grandmothers in the village were the most welcome of gifts.
But now with the hint of snow on the wind, and deer becoming more scarce in the willow breaks, she could see this reluctance on the part of the buffalo families could become a real problem.
Hunter's Daughter decided she would do something about it.
She went to the base of the cliff and looked up. She began to sing in a low, soft voice, "Oh, buffalo family, come down and visit me. If you come down and feed my relatives in a wedding feast, I will join your family as the bride of your strongest warrior."
She stopped and listened. She thought she heard the slight rumbling sound of thunder in the distance.
Again she sang, "Oh, buffalo family, come down and visit me. Feed my family in a wedding feast so that I may be a bride."
The thunder was much louder now. Suddenly the buffalo family began falling from the sky at her feet.
One very large bull landed on top of the others, and walked across the backs of his relatives to stand before Hunter's Daughter.
"I am here to claim you as my bride," said Large Buffalo.
"Oh, but now I am afraid to go with you," said Hunter's Daughter.
"Ah, but you must," said Large Buffalo, "For my people have come to provide your people with a wedding feast. As you can see, they have offered themselves up."
"Yes, but I must run and tell my relatives the good news," said Hunter's Daughter. "No," said Large Buffalo. No word need be sent. You are not getting away so easily."
And with that said, Large Buffalo lifted her between his horns and carried her off to his village in the rolling grass hills.
The next morning the whole village was out looking for Hunter's Daughter. When they found the mound of buffalo below the cliff, the father, who was in fact a fine tracker as well as a skilled hunter, looked at his daughter's footprints in the dust.
"She's gone off with a buffalo, he said. I shall follow them and bring her back."
So Hunter walked out upon the plains, with only his bow and arrows as companions. He walked and walked a great distance until he was so tired that he had to sit down to rest beside a buffalo wallow.
Along came Magpie and sat down beside him.
Hunter spoke to Magpie in a respectful tone, "O knowledgeable bird, has my daughter been stolen from me by a buffalo? Have you seen them? Can you tell me where they have gone?"
Magpie replied with understanding, "Yes, I have seen them pass this way. They are resting just over this hill."
"Well," said Hunter, would you kindly take my daughter a message for me? Will you tell her I am here just over the hill?"
So Magpie flew to where Large Buffalo lay asleep amidst his relatives in the dry prairie grass. He hopped over to where Hunter's Daughter was quilling moccasins, as she sat dutifully beside her sleeping husband. "Your father is waiting for you on the other side of the hill," whispered Magpie to the maiden.
"Oh, this is very dangerous," she told him. These buffalo are not friendly to us and they might try to hurt my father if he should come this way. Please tell him to wait for me and I will try to slip away to see him."
Just then her husband, Large Buffalo, awoke and took off his horn. "Go bring me a drink from the wallow just over this hill," said her husband.
So she took the horn in her hand and walked very casually over the hill.
Her father motioned silently for her to come with him, as he bent into a low crouch in the grass. "No," she whispered. The buffalo are angry with our people who have killed their people. They will run after us and trample us into the dirt. I will go back and see what I can do to soothe their feelings."
And so Hunter's daughter took the horn of water back to her husband who gave a loud snort when he took a drink. The snort turned into a bellow and all of the buffalo got up in alarm. They all put their tails in the air and danced a buffalo dance over the hill, trampling the poor man to pieces who was still waiting for his daughter near the buffalo wallow.
His daughter sat down on the edge of the wallow and broke into tears.
"Why are you crying?" said her buffalo husband.
"You have killed my father and I am a prisoner, besides," she sobbed.
"Well, what of my people?" her husband replied. We have given our children, our parents and some of our wives up to your relatives in exchange for your presence among us. A deal is a deal."
But after some consideration of her feelings, Large Buffalo knelt down beside her and said to her, "If you can bring your father back to life again, we will let him take you back home to your people."
So Hunter's Daughter started to sing a little song.
"Magpie, Magpie help me find some piece of my father which I can mend back whole again."
Magpie appeared and sat down in front of her with his head cocked to the side.
"Magpie, Magpie, please see what you can find," she sang softly to the wind which bent the grasses slightly apart. Magpie cocked his head to the side and looked carefully within the layered folds of the grasses as the wind sighed again. Quickly he picked out a piece of her father that had been hidden there, a little bit of bone.
"That will be enough to do the trick," said Hunter's Daughter, as she put the bone on the ground and covered it with her blanket.
And then she started to sing a reviving song that had the power to bring injured people back to the land of the living. Quietly she sang the song that her grandmother had taught her. After a few melodious passages, there was a lump under the blanket. She and Magpie looked under the blanket and could see a man, but the man was not breathing. He lay cold as stone. So Hunter's Daughter continued to sing, a little softer, and a little softer, so as not to startle her father as he began to move. When he stood up, alive and strong, the buffalo people were amazed. They said to Hunter's Daughter, "Will you sing this song for us after every hunt? We will teach your people the buffalo dance, so that whenever you dance before the hunt, you will be assured a good result. Then you will sing this song for us, and we will all come back to live again."
'BUFFALO CULTURE' KEY TO NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY AND SURVIVAL
For the Plains Indians such as the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Sioux, Comanche and others, the American buffalo played an important role not only in their culture and religion but also in their very survival.
To them, the bison provided an endless supply of necessities, and every part of the animal served a purpose.
The blood, milk, meat, marrow, organs, testicles, nipples and everything down to the nose gristle were eaten, and buffalo tongues and fetuses were considered particular delicacies.
Some tribes are described as being part of the 'Buffalo Culture' as the animals were their main source of flesh, hide and bones, and were used to make other items such as food, cups, decorations, crafting tools, knives, and clothing.
The tribes followed the seasonal grazing and migration of buffalo.
To many Native Americans, the bison was also a symbol of sacred life and abundance.
North America's largest land animal will roam the Alaskan wilderness once again if a plan unveiled Jan 17 is approved
Wood bison, a subspecies of the more familiar plains bison, once lived throughout Alaska and much of western Canada but haven't been seen in the state's wilderness for more than a century due to hunting and other factors. That may be about to change: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a plan Jan. 17 to reintroduce the beasts, according to the Alaska Dispatch, a news website.
Several groups have been trying to reintroduce wood bison for more than a decade. Some Alaskans have rejected the idea of introducing an animal listed under the Endangered Species Act for fear that this might interfere with gas and oil development, the Dispatch reported. (Habitats of endangered animals often cannot be used for certain commercial activities.)
Under the new plan, the Alaskan bison would be designated as a "nonessential experimental population" that isn't necessary to the survival of the species, which has rebounded enough in Canada to be considered threatened, as opposed to endangered as was the case previously.
If their population reaches a certain size, the animals would also be fair game for hunters, according to the plan. Alaska natives would get the first crack at them, but the Fish and Wildlife Service said that the plan is to eventually open the herd to the public, given certain constraints.
A public comment period on the plan has begun and ends in two months. Assuming that the plan goes through, which depends upon input from the public and wildlife experts, reintroduction could begin by next spring, Reuters reports.
A total of 132 animals already live in captivity at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. Under the plan, they would be reintroduced to a grassland area near the lower Innoko and Yukon rivers, according to the Dispatch.
Wood bison are larger than their plains cousins, with adult bulls weighing up to 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) or more, according to a statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the early 1800s, there were as many as 168,000 throughout Canada and Alaska. Now there are 10,000 free-ranging wood bison in Canada, including about 4,500 in seven free-ranging, disease-free herds, the agency noted.
"Establishing wild populations of this magnificent animal in Alaska would be a significant step toward its eventual recovery and delisting" from the Endangered Species List, said regional director Geoffrey Haskett in the release.
Wood bison have already been introduced to Russia, where scientists are trying to establish breeding populations of the animals, according to the Edmonton Journal. Wood bison are the closest living relatives to the steppe bison, which went extinct about 5,000 years ago.
From kings of the American plains to piles of sun-bleached bones: How mass slaughter by hunters nearly wiped out the buffalo
- Buffalo population fell from 50 million to just 2,000 following hunting
- Critics claim animals were targeted in bid to starve out Native Americans
- One hunter, 'Buffalo Bill' Cody, killed thousands of the animals alone
By SAM ADAMS
Taken towards the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, these shocking black and white photographs tell a tragic story.
Millions of American bison, also known as American buffalo, were reduced to mountainous piles of bleached white bones and drying hides following a slaughter on an unprecedented scale carried out by European settlers.
At the time, of course, the perpetrators of the hunts that led to the buffalo's near extinction held a very different point of view to that of most people today.
Decimated: Buffalo were nearly wiped out by white hunters as they moved into the American west. Pictured, the carcasses of dead buffalo lying in the snow following a hunt
Macabre: A pile of bison and antlered deer skulls sit bleaching in the sun in Albany County, Wyoming, 1870. Skulls were often kept as trophies or for decoration by hunters
Slaughtered: Men in the mid-1870s pose with a mountain of buffalo skulls soon to be ground into fertilizer, the sad remains of an animal that once ruled the American plains
At their peak the bison are believed to have been the biggest population of large wild mammals anywhere on Earth, numbering an estimated 50 million before the European settlers arrived.
Yet within the space of a few decades, their number would be reduced to a mere 2,000, bringing to an end an era in American history.
Far from inciting feelings of disgust or horror, the slaughter of bison was seen by European settlers as a means to wealth, a healthy pastime, and most chilling of all, as a way to end the primary source of sustenance for the Plains Indians and so drive them from their land.
Perhaps the most shocking fact about the near extinction of the American bison is that it appears to have been wholly intentional, part of a high-level strategy.
Many scholars believe the government and military actively promoted the slaughter of bison herds to remove the primary food source of the Native Americans.
Proud: Two hunters inspect their kill, around 1903. Men on horseback like these had an easy time shooting bison, which could be slow to react to their approach
Wall of bones: A long pile of buffalo bones stretches into the distance while a boy poses in front - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1890
There is heated debate about the existence of an actual government policy that enforced this aim.
Without the buffalo, the American Indians could not survive, and without the Indians, European settlers were free to claim their lands for themselves.
Witnesses reported seeing a sea of black during their annual migrations and feeling the ground trembling with the beat of millions of hooves.
Skulls were often kept as trophies or for decoration. In 1842, an observer of the bison migration, Philip St. George Cooke, wrote: 'Suddenly a cloud of dust rose over its crest, and I heard a rushing noise as of a mighty whirlwind, or the charging tramp of ten thousand horses.
'I had not time to divine its cause, when a herd of buffalo arose over the summit, and a dense mass, thousand upon thousand, galloped, with headlong speed, directly upon the pot where I stood.
'Still onward they came. Heaven protect me! It was a fearful sight.' A fearful sight that was soon never to be seen again.
How the modern bison came to dominate the North American landscape is still being debated. There is some evidence that prior to European colonisation, herds were small and regulated by Native American hunters.
It was humans, not bison, who dominated the plains landscape, some sources say.
Then the Europeans arrived, bringing with them the disease epidemics that wiped out so many Native Americans and left so much of their vast grasslands empty and ready for bison to take over - which they did in huge numbers.
The animals once roamed the North American plains from Canada down to Mexico, and as far east as the western boundary of the Appalachian Mountains.
A major contributor to the bison's decimation was the expanding railroad system.
Not only did the industry's leaders actively encourage the slaughter of bison, which were a nuisance on their tracks, but thanks to them, buffalo products could now be collected and distributed in larger numbers than ever before.
As the railroads were laid down, they effectively split the herds. This new transportation network also made it easy for commercial hunters to reach herds further and further out in the plains.
Market hunters like these could kill hundreds of bison in a single encounter. In fact some, such as 'Buffalo Bill' Cody, became famous for slaying thousands during their lifetime.
Killing: A pile of buffalo bones waiting to be loaded onto a train in Canada. The expansion of the railway system across North America was another factor in the decimation of the animal's population
Sad: Wright's buffalo hide yard in Dodge City, Kansas, 1878, with some 40,000 buffalo hides apparently in this shot
Hides: Skins hung up to dry in 1926, The Hides were the most prized body parts of the hunted bison and quite often the only parts commercial hunters took Hundreds of thousands of tons of bison bones were used in various industries, including the refining of sugar and for making bone china and fertilizer.
The buffalo has become a key symbol in North American culture, and is used in official seals, flags, and logos in both the US and in Canada.
There are currently around 500,000 bison in captive commercial populations on about 4,000 privately owned ranches. However, only 15,000 total individuals are considered wild bison in the natural range within North America.