Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Dream Realized

I dreamt of dust. I dreamt of thunder. Just as the stars in the heavens cannot be counted,  the beasts  before me were too numerous to number.  The land  trembled as hooves struck earth, with one-ton masses of shear muscle and resolve riding high. The air was thick with scent and heat and wild energy.  The american bison, the buffalo, had returned to the prairie.

What if it were true? What if the great herds of buffalo returned to the landscape, and with them, in quick succession, the entire prairie ecosystem as we once knew? What if vast herds of pronghorn and elk, bear, and wolf, were no longer pushed into the mountains but could, instead,  roam free, as they did for millennia? What if the people of the plains; the Asiniboine, the Gros ventre, the Crow, the Blackfeet could  walk their ancient stomping grounds? What if the ranchers, and stockmen, and hard-working homesteaders of the plains could carry on, under a big and open sky, the traditions of their grandfathers?Perhaps, we would rediscover our American identity.

From an old and painted bison horn thick whisps of burning sweetgrass and Tobacco curled into a ribbon of sacred smoke. Clutched in the hands of a young Asiniboine boy, the gift to the spirit was held steady. A slow beat on the skin of a drum sounded. An elder's prayer rose with the fragrant offering, high above the animals, and high above all people. It was time for them to return to their home.  

"I see the Ghost Dancers' prayers being answered," exclaimed an elder as the gate opened and seventy-three direct descendants of Northern Montana Bison charged into the sage. This was a special day on the Montana prairie. This group of yearlings belong here. Over one-hundred years ago the bison were eradicated from the region. A lucky few were spared and stashed away in Elk Island National Park, Canada. Today, nearly a century later, these genes have returned to their rightful home on the Hi-line.

 There are now nearly 500 wild bison roaming the Sun Prairie of Northeast, Montana.

                                                  aproaching a small herd

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