On Tuesday, February 7th, an important meeting was held in Billings, Montana with fifteen tribal council members from ten different Nations; the purpose was to bring awareness to the Council of the urgency surrounding the Yellowstone buffalo situation. Representatives from BFC were invited by Jimmy St. Goddard, a Blackfoot man of ceremony, cultural spokesperson and pupil of respected elder, Tiny Man Heavy Runner. Jimmy had visited West Yellowstone the week prior to the meeting, where he conducted a solidarity ceremony, designating BFC headquarters near Hebgen Lake as a Sacred Site. He also spoke of other sacred sites in the area that needed to be awakened for the good of the ecosystem and spiritual connection that has been in a slumber since the turn of the century. It was obvious that an important alliance was being woven.
The meeting in Billings opened with concerns of Native high school and college student on sports teams who were being discriminated upon with the referees and administration turning a blind eye. After two hours, it was time for Jimmy to speak. He stood up and opened with a traditional greeting and introduced Mike Mease, BFC co-founder, and myself, and told the Council why we were there. I was asked to say a few words and then sing an honor song. It was a great honor. Jimmy then spoke of the need for the tribes to be more of a voice for the eniwa (buffalo) and to reclaim their Treaty rights that are just now starting to be "honored" and could potentially help save the Yellowstone buffalo from further annihilation at the hands of the Montana Department of Livestock and Yellowstone National Park's "mismanagement" program. As the Council went around and voiced some comments, Jimmy began to sweat (did I forget to mention his wife was back at the hotel...eight months pregnant?). He then received a phone call from the hotel that his wife, Francine, was going into labor and an ambulance was on the way. Mike immediately rushed over to the hotel to pick up his two other kids, Natoosi and Serena. When Mike returned, we all piled into the van and rushed to the hospital. Three hours later, Jimmy's newest son came into this world on such an important day... a day of solidarity, interconnectedness and rebirth. Just another reminder of why we do what we do ... for the generations to come.
With the Buffalo,
~ Good Shield
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