The Issue of the Bison

Last night I saw the piece on NBC Nightly News that tells the story of pure bred bison that have just been released in Montana. The purity of this species has been compromised by cross breeding with cattle, threatening the original species with extinction. I was so moved to see that the bison were set onto the land at night as Sioux played drums to welcome them and celebrate their reintroduction. Bison are huge pieces of their cultural history, having been a source of clothing, food, medicine and certainly of a kind of consciousness these native people long to have returned to them for their survival as a culture and as a people; they are the “people of the buffalo.” How we invaded and eradicated their way of life is a tragic loss not only to them, but to everyone, everywhere I believe.

I was talking to some friends the other night who were just in a country where dogs are not domesticated, but are wild. They were describing the vast difference between those animals and the species we know of as dogs, cuddly creatures dependent upon us for their survival. What popped out of my mouth surprised me a little. I said, “That’s what happened to women when the trend toward domestication of women occurred. We lost our wildness and  became dependent.”

I can’t say how I would think or feel if I were the cattle rancher in Montana whose livelihood depends upon keeping borders and “managing” the bison rather than letting them roam wild and become more populous. I only know what I feel in my bones and in my gut – that we, as a species and as a planet, need that reintroduction of wildness. “Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam” – aren’t those lyrics in one of our most beloved national songs?

Domestication – of plants, animals, people and everything – “managing” everything – has gone too far. We’re weakening ourselves, making ourselves dependent. The house of domestication is burning down. Let it burn.

Just two nights ago I had a dream that the house I was sleeping in was burning down. I could feel the consuming flames and the heat all around me. The one and only thing I could think to grab before I left the room hoping to save my life was my dream journal. I stood there a second trying to think of what else to grab and not one other thing came to mind.

This dream is personal, but I think it is also collective. The house we are sleeping in is burning down. Let’s grab our dreamtime consciousness and run.

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3 Responses to “The Issue of the Bison”

  1. Sarah Davis Says:

    A powerful and inspiring piece, Tayria. Thank you.

  2. westerner54 Says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Keeping the wildness is SO key…thanks.

  3. Scott Atkins Says:

    There’s an article at noting that singing, which was used in encouraging the last of these transplanted bison to leave the trailer bringing them to their new (old) home, predates language as means of communication and celebration.

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