Sunshine pours over the landscape in the Hebgen basin, illuminating the distinctive red color of a buffalo calf. Its mother looks after the calf as it feels the warmth of the spring sun, and she dutifully grooms the young one as it comes awake for the first time. Within hours, the calf is moving around.
The calf’s first steps are shaky, careful and slow. It stumbles in between its mother’s legs, peering around the sandy shores of Hebgen Lake, taking in the brand new world. The calf’s red fur is still matted and wet, and the mom is quickly cleaning up the afterbirth. All is safe at the moment, but she knows that wolves will track a new birth if she doesn’t clean up.
It doesn’t take long to work up an appetite. Still shaky, the calf seeks out milk from its mother. She patiently waits as the little one learns how to nurse below her. Finally, the calf has success, and enthusiastically begins to drink. In the next few months of nursing and grazing on nutritious green shoots this baby buffalo will grow rapidly. It must put on the weight to make it through the winter, so the bulking starts just hours after birth. Buffalo are built to survive.
For the last wild buffalo in Yellowstone, new life is a miracle to celebrate. This new generation will learn the herd knowledge they need to survive, and someday pass that knowledge on to others. These new buffalo will heal degraded land, and create habitat for all other animals that call Yellowstone home. New calves are the reason we stand with the buffalo, the hope for a better future that we fight for. BFC’s executive director James Holt reminds us that “every time a calf stands is a victory for us.”
In a world of problems, buffalo give us solutions. New buffalo give us hope. Old buffalo give us wisdom. The last wild buffalo give us a way forward.
A buffalo basks in the sun on the banks of the Madison River
Buffalo are everywhere. Hundreds of wild buffalo from the Central herd are returning to their traditional calving grounds in Hebgen Basin. Every day more buffalo arrive following the Madison River across highway 191 to Horse Butte peninsula, a favorite destination. Spring is one of the busiest and most fun times of year for BFC’s field patrols. From sunrise to sunset and beyond, patrols deploy BUFFALO ON ROAD signs along highways 287 to 191 to 20 to calm and alert travelers, counting the herds and recording their locations, and talking with locals and visitors who are enjoying the presence of these sacred animals.
Family groups of buffalo pass us on the roads, in the forest, and through the rivers. The tiredness and hardships of winter fall off in thick tufts of hair as they prepare for summer and times of plenty. Some buffalo have a limp, others have visible ribs, and the soon-to-be mothers are so encumbered by their calves they must be slow and deliberate in their leadership of the herds. Despite their challenges, the herds continue their march to their calving grounds, the place they know they will heal, regenerate and restore themselves.
The Hebgen Basin
In watching the buffalo we learn about ourselves. The matriarch and leader of her group, carefully watches over her family members to ensure they are safe, well fed, and looked after. Young bulls are enjoying their last year with their family before joining up with other bachelor bulls. Yearlings prance and play, bringing much needed cheer after surviving a hard winter. No member is left behind. All buffalo are part of and have a place in the herd.
Spring migration is a reminder of a better future for the buffalo, and a better future for all of us. Residents of Yellowstone Village on Horse Butte represent what it means for humans and wildlife to peacefully coexist. BFC has deep and strong ties with this community of people who welcome the buffalo’s migration with open arms. All over the neighborhood you can see BFC’s “Buffalo Safe Zone” signs in nearly every home. Local residents have a clear message to share with all Montanans: we can live and thrive with wild buffalo still roaming their territory.
Buffalo enjoy a spring day behind BFC’s “Buffalo Safe Zone” sign
Peaceful coexistence in West Yellowstone could easily occur in many other communities across the Great Plains and beyond if we would only let the buffalo roam once again. In a world where so many are focused on problems, buffalo bring us solutions that will benefit people everywhere. Restored grasslands, biodiversity, clean water, enhanced topsoil, and beauty will follow the buffalo wherever they are allowed to roam. We stand with the buffalo so that we can all have this healthy and abundant future.
Curious about Peehee mu’huh, Thacker Pass? Interested in participating in the camp and organizing on behalf of the campaign, but don’t know where to get started? Join us Wednesday May 5, 5pm PT for a live streaming orientation to the ProtectThacker Pass campaign.
Washington D.C. (April 9th, 2021)- The Army Corp announced today that they will not be shutting down the Dakota Access pipeline despite it lacking the proper operating and environmental permits. This move continues to ignore the treaties and voices of the Standing Rock Tribal Nation who have been vocal about their opposition to the pipeline for over five years. The decision comes on the heels of the Standing Rock Youth Council taking over the streets of to D.C. last week with a 318-foot-long snake to deliver 400,000 petition signatures in support of shutting DAPL down to the Army Corps.
The federal judge overseeing the case announced he will be making a decision on whether he will order the pipeline to be shut down or not by April 19th, 2021.
Quotes: Joye Braun, IEN DAPL Frontline Organizer, Cheyenne River Sioux Nation Citizen: “It is imperative that the Biden administration shut down DAPL now. The Army Corps of Engineers should not twist the rule of law to favor big oil interests and further spit on the nation-to-nation relationship between tribal nations and the US Government. The Biden Administration needs to do the right thing and stop this illegal pipeline. Why allow something illegal to continue? Set the example, honor the treaties, and show that the rule of law is greater than oil corporate interests. We will no longer accept being the sacrificial lamb for corporate raping of our Mother Earth and her water.”
Maya Monroe Runnels-Black Fox, Co-chair of the Standing Rock Youth Council: “It’s been a long hard five years, but we are the defenders of the land and protectors of this water. The youth will continue on fighting these black snakes for our people and the next 7 generations to come. President Joe Biden needs to act now and keep his promise to be a climate president.”
Waniya Locke, Standing Rock Grassroots: “The Army Corps of Engineers and Biden have the authority to shut down the illegal Dakota access pipeline and protect 10 million people’s drinking water. Inaction is no longer acceptable behavior when we are in a climate crisis. Our tribal sovereignty can save 10 million people drinking water, if the Amry Corps respected our sovereignty.”
Tasina Sapa Win Smith, Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective: “The Biden administration and ACOE have declared another battle with the Oceti Sakowin First Nations people by allowing the illegal continuation of dirty oil to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline. Biden’s inaction to protect our fragile ecosystems, natural resources, traditional medicines, and indigenous rights is a clear sign that this administration is the exact opposite of the climate leadership narrative they promised to lead during his campaign. As Indigenous people, it is our inherent right to protect our natural resources and future generations. With that said, the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are ready to take courage by putting our unarmed bodies on the line and freedoms at risk to stop this ongoing injustice against our nation and all of Turtle Island. That is what true climate leadership takes — courage. Biden, be bold.”
###Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. I EN’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.Learn more here: ienearth.org
Farmers’ protests have been on at sites beyond Delhi’s borders.
One in Uttar Pradesh was dismantled by a late-night crackdown – with some leaders dubbed ‘suspects’ in the Republic Day violence in the capital.
If it weren’t for the violent blows of police lathi s, the farmers protesting in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district would not have left their protest site on January 27. “The protest had been going on for 40 days,” says Brijpal Singh, 52, a sugarcane farmer from Baraut town, where the sit-in was held.
“It was not even a rasta-roko . We were peaceful, and exercising our democratic right. On the night of January 27, the police suddenly started beating us up. They tore our tents, and took our vessels and clothes. They didn’t even care for the elders and children,”
added Brijpal, who owns five acres of farmland in Baraut.
Until that January night, about 200 farmers from all over the district had been staging a protest on the Baghpat-Saharanpur highway in Baraut, against the new farm laws. They are among lakhs of farmers across the country who have been protesting ever since the central government introduced three new farm laws in September 2020.
Farmers in Baghpat and other parts of western Uttar Pradesh (UP) have also been demonstrating their support for those famers – mainly from Punjab and Haryana – agitating at the borders of Delhi since November 26, 2020, demanding a repeal of the laws.
“We received threats, phone calls,” says Brijpal, who is also the local leader of the Desh khap – the all-male council of the Tomar clan in Baghpat region. “The [district] administration threatened to fill up our farms with water. When nothing worked, the police lathi -charged in the night when we were sleeping. We were caught by surprise.”
Before his bruises could heal, Brijpal received another shock.
A notice from Delhi Police informing him to appear at Seemapuri police station in Delhi’s Shahdara district on February 10. The notice said that he would be questioned about the violent events in the national capital on January 26, during the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally. “I was not even in Delhi,” says Brijpal. “I was at the dharna [in Baraut]. The violence happened 70 kilometres from here.” So he didn’t respond to the police notice. The farmers’ protest in Baraut had been going on until the night of January 27, confirms Baghpat’s Additional District Magistrate, Amit Kumar Singh.
Eight other farmers who protested in Baraut also received notices from Delhi Police. “I didn’t go,” says 78-year-old Baljor Singh Arya, a former sepoy of the Indian Army. His notice said that he had to appear on February 6 at the Pandav Nagar police station in East Delhi district. “I have no clue why I am being dragged into it. I was in Baghpat,” says Baljor, who farms on his two-acre plot of land in Malakpur village.
The Baghpat farmers are “suspects” in the Delhi incidents, said Sub-Inspector Niraj Kumar from Pandav Nagar station. “The investigation is going on,” he told me on February 10. The reason for sending the notices cannot be disclosed, said Inspector Prashant Anand from Seemapuri. “We will see whether they were in Delhi or not. We have some inputs. That is why we sent the notices.”
The notices sent to Brijpal and Baljor cited the first information reports (FIR) registered at the Delhi police stations. The FIRs listed various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to rioting, unlawful assembly, assault on a public servant, dacoity and attempt to murder, among others. Sections of laws such as the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act were also included.
But the farmers were only demanding their rights, says Vikram Arya, a 68-year-old sugarcane farmer from Khwaja Nagla village, eight kilometers from Baraut. “Ours is a land of agitation and protest. Every peaceful protest has Gandhi in it. We are protesting for our rights,” says Vikram, who was at the Baraut protest. The regime at the Centre, he says, “wants to eliminate everything that Gandhi stood for.”
The farmers see these laws as devastating to their livelihoods because they expand the space for large corporates to have even greater power over farmers and farming. The new laws also undermine the main forms of support to the cultivator, including the minimum support price (MSP), the agricultural produce marketing committees (APMC), state procurement and more. They have also been criticised as affecting every Indian as they disable the right to legal recourse of all citizens, undermining Article 32 of the Indian Constitution.
Vikram doesn’t believe the government’s claim that MSP will continue even after the new laws take full effect.
“What happened to BSNL after the private companies came in? What is the state of our public schools and hospitals? That is exactly what the state mandis would be reduced to. They will die a slow death,” he says. Apart from worrying about the state-regulated mandis (APMCs) becoming redundant, farmers like Vikram and Baljor also fear the presence of corporate entities in agriculture. “The companies will have a monopoly over our produce and they will dictate terms to the farmers,” says Vikram. “Do private companies think anything else apart from profits? How can we trust them to treat us fairly?”
Farmers in western UP, who mainly cultivate sugarcane, know what it’s like to deal with private corporations, says Baljor.
“We have a contract with sugarcane factories,” he explains. “The prices are decided by the state [state advisory price]. According to the law [UP Sugarcane Act], we are supposed to receive our payments within 14 days. It has been 14 months but we still haven’t received payment for the sugarcane we sold the previous season. The state government has hardly done anything about it.”
Baljor, who served in the army in 1966-73, is also angry that soldiers have been pitted against the farmers by the government. “They have sold false nationalism by using the army. As someone who has been in the army, I detest that,” he says.
“The media is busy telling the country that opposition parties are politicising the farmers’ agitation,” says Vikram. “If political parties don’t get involved in politics, then who will? The agitation has woken up the farmers,” he adds. “We are present in 70 per cent of the country. How long will the lies work?”
This article was published in The People’s Archive of Rural India on MARCH 3, 2021 you can access this here!