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A Day With the Buffalo and the Elders-Paths to the Future

Scott Frazier Project Indigenous

By: Shelley Bluejay Pierce

On November 29, 2006, eight little buffalo calves forced their way out of a government enclosure where they, and many other wild buffalo, were being detained in holding pens and experimented on by scientists attempting to produce a “brucellosis-free buffalo herd” in the Yellowstone area.

Only a couple weeks after the escape of these determined young buffalo, the winter hunting season began and the buffalo of Yellowstone were beset with hunters chasing them from place to place trying to fill the state issued hunting tags.

During a very stressful time for the buffalo herd in the harsh winter and deep snows where forage is hard to come by, the buffalo run to escape the hunters and the wildlife “management” officials who haze them with helicopters and snowmobiles. The buffalo would not have chosen an insane place to dwell during the long winter season like the heart of Yellowstone Park. They would have followed their instincts and gone to lower prairie grounds where the food supplies were plentiful.Yet, to this very day, they are forced to abide within imaginary fences and made to comply with an illogical and man made system that each year leads many buffalo to their deaths.

This is the way of life for our sacred buffalo. In beginning this story though, let us all back up and take time to learn about them and why they are sacred to the Native people. As is our tradition, listening to the oral history from a trusted Elder is how we learn our history and deepen our respect for our culture and the legacy of those who have come before. I am honored to share this story as told by Scott Frazier, Santee/Crow, as told to him by his Grandfather.

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