Opinion

Rosalie Little Thunder: Tribes participate in slaughter of bison






Rosalie Little Thunder. Photo from Native Sun News

Rosalie Little Thunder, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and Darrell Geist of the Buffalo Field Campaign, question tribal participation in the slaughter of bison from Yellowstone National Park:
Ignoring long standing condemnation of the government-led buffalo slaughter by American Indian Tribes and traditional leaders, the InterTribal Buffalo Council and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes entered into deals with the National Park Service to take hundreds of “surplus” buffalo to slaughter this winter. The Nez Perce Tribe has also signed a slaughter deal. The Park is pursuing similar arrangements with other Tribal governments to set-up an operational quarantine – a livestock factory – to domesticate wild buffalo. Backing a trailer up to a trap in Yellowstone Park where buffalo are confined and transporting them to slaughter has nothing to do with tradition or the sacred or sovereign rights of tribes.

Our tribal councils and leaders are occupied with many challenges and do not have ready access to adequate information about the Yellowstone buffalo herd’s fate. Oftentimes decision-makers are distanced from their own councils and advisors, traditional and spiritual. Unfortunately, the decisions made on wild buffalo continue to serve the interests of the Montana Department of Livestock and the National Park Service first.

With the sanction of MCA 81-2-120, Montana and Yellowstone National Park have shot or captured for slaughter 5,097 wild buffalo. This winter, with the shield of tribal involvement, several hundred buffalo were captured for shipment to slaughterhouses.

The deception that buffalo are a disease risk is not fair to the tribes or the American people. Since cattle infected buffalo in captivity on the Lamar Buffalo Ranch a century ago, there has been no case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis back to cattle. Our relative, the buffalo, has been found guilty while the evidence of their innocence has been buried.

How did this state of affairs come to be?

Get the Story:
ROSALIE LITTLE THUNDER and DARRELL GEIST: The Bloody Politics of Bison Slaughter (Counterpunch 4/30)