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There is a dark underbelly to what is accepted as “wildlife management” today.

The rulings of the Jacksonian US Supreme Court that enabled the so-called “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation” rearticulated and were extensions of the Doctrine of Discovery. In the first decades of the 20th Century, Madison Grant, who progressed from secretary to president of  the Boone and Crockett Club, became the “father” of  what is accepted as “wildlife management” today; theories that dominate management practices worldwide. The patriarchs of the Boone and Crockett Club, the likes of President Teddy Roosevelt, General William Tecumseh Sherman and General Phil Sheridan, shared a kindred spirit defined by their hatred of tribal people, and the belief in white supremacy. Where Roosevelt put Native people to the sword in the pages of his sensationalized and sanitized writings on the American West, Sherman and Sheridan were the architects of “total war” that under their leadership was employed by the frontier army and resulted in multiple crimes against humanity that culminated in the massacre at Wounded Knee.

 

“No one who knew the true nature of the Indian felt any regret that they were driven off their hunting grounds. This attitude was found wherever the Whites came in conflict with them and explains why they were scarcely regarded as human beings,” was among the more temperate of the vile assertions Grant made in The Conquest of  a Continent. Roosevelt was a disciple of Grant’s and embraced his eugenicist conjecture to rationalize acts of genocide on the recently passed-frontier, and his attitudes towards immigrants and “race bastards” he feared would over- run his America. Roosevelt gave Grant a glowing review for what history has condemned as “the bible of scientific racism,” when Grant transposed his ideas on wildlife management to human beings of color in his book, The Passing of  the Great Race.

It is time for Grant’s legacy to end, not be rejuvenated by similar rhetoric in a different age. Our children and our future generations deserve better than this. Like Grant’s legacy, it is time for these practices wedded to 19th Century colonialism to end.
 

In North America, the virus that carried the killing gene down the immigrant trails westward is as potent in its transplanted domicile as it was where it originated.

The land was no mother to them, or none they would admit to; the Earth, as woman to their depravity, was objectified and commodified to be raped and pillaged, and these prospectors of land were prospectors of flesh, and what was ordained to be tamed and made bloom was theirs for the taking, theirs for the killing, and theirs for the plundering.

She must be dominated. She must be overpowered. She must be controlled.

 

That is the prevailing attitude today of the “great white hunters” and their political enablers. Whereas to us, all born of the Earth are the matter of her body, and in spirit they are feminine, each a shape of the earth. Those mutations of misogyny and patriarchy fester within the status quo. In their concept of  “wildlife management” killing is of  the essence, only they are not intellectually honest enough to say “killing” – they employ euphemisms such as “harvest.” One does not harvest a grizzly bear,

a wolf or a lion. You harvest a crop, most often grown for that purpose. The Creator did not place these sacred beings upon the Earth for thrill killing; for “trophy hunting.” Of course, among the vocal minority, the tiny percentage of the affluent who comprise the constituency of international trophy killers, are claims that trophy hunting has its validation in their God’s decree to Noah in Genesis 9:3, and is given in the context of that cataclysmic flood – but that might be splitting hairs to these Remington and Bowtech theologians. For their purposes, Genesis is a poor choice,

as Genesis 1:29-30 reveals how God’s original intent was for man and beast alike to be vegetarian, the meat God spoke of being the fruit of seed. “Every animal that does not have a divided hoof or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you; whoever touches the carcass of any of them will be unclean. Of all the animals that walk on all fours, those that walk on their paws are unclean for you.” (Leviticus 11:26-27).

But still they want the heads and robes of our sacred relatives, the ones they call “predators.”

 

For as long as charlatans have manipulated them, religious texts have been the last bastions of maniacs in their attempts to legitimize and vindicate acts of sadism. Trophy hunters are serial killers by definition; all that is left to debate is the nature of their victims. Robert Hansen, a record-book trophy hunter, developed into a notorious serial killer of women. The fallacy that continues to be sold by Safari Club International, the Boone and Crockett Club, and state “game” agencies is that these “wildlife enthusiasts” are responsible for the preservation and recovery of endangered species due to their trophy hunting license fees. It is a lie that has been debunked time and again. What they are is a small minority of wildlife enthusiasts who are enthusiastic about killing wildlife and happen, by demographic, to be 95% white males. They are favored at the disenfranchisement of every other demographic for one enduring reason: ignorance. And ignorance has a color, and ironically it too is green. “United States citizens make up a disproportionately large share of foreign hunters who book trophy hunts in Africa,”

 

Dan Ashe, former director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service shared in a rare moment of candor. The killing gene fueled by the enduring mix of inadequacy, misogyny and patriarchy is still motivational.

 

“This is not a hunting issue, it is a killing issue. We come from a subsistence culture, where there is ceremony and great respect accorded those beings you ask to offer their lives so that you might live. That is what you call a hunting tradition, not a killing tradition.” Time and again during the struggle to save the grizzly bear from these gun sight management practices, Northern Cheyenne Sun Dance Priest and Spiritual Leader, Don Shoulderblade, attempted to offer this explanation to those “wildlife enthusiasts.” “It is impossible to articulate in a sound-bite the spiritual significance of the grizzly in our culture,” he persisted. “The grizzly is sacred an ancient spirit, a great healer and teacher. The grizzly is integral to our traditional spiritual lifeway.

We will not stand by in the land of our ancestors and watch grizzlies be blown apart by high-powered rifles and mutilated just to satiate the bloodlust of some rich, ‘great white hunter.’” GIC applies that principle to all sacred beings, wherever they survive in symbiosis with First People.

 

When it comes to the environment and all our relations that walk, crawl and fly –

We, the First People of the Earth – are the embodiment of the wildlife management mantra “the best available science” – as we are the descendants of those who

co-existed and lived in balance with our Mother Earth, before destruction and devastation reigned. The Grizzly: A Treaty of Cooperation, Cultural Revitalization and Restoration, now the most-signed treaty in history with over 200-tribal nation signatories and written in accord with UNDRIP, is the foundation for GIC’s policy on threatened and endangered species. The treaty inspired HR 3894, The Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act (THGBPA), that was introduced to the 115th Congress in October 2017.

 

The Act seeks to strengthen consultation requirements and protections for our religious and ceremonial practices. Like the treaty, the Act outlines a redefinition of the federal-tribal relationship in land and endangered species management that would strengthen tribal sovereignty. The Act supports what one of GIC’s founder tribes, the Piikani Nation, has long advocated for: A Native American Endangered Species Act (NA-ESA) that we, as tribal nations, can implement on our lands, unburdened by federal government regulation. Central to the NA-ESA would be our Traditional Ecological Knowledge, so that the practices and tenets of the NA-ESA would be in accordance with our cultural values. It would not be a “one size fits all” act; fundamental to it would be the flexibility to adapt articles of the act to reflect an individual tribe’s traditional culture and contemporary circumstances. This, we feel, would continue the mission of the Grizzly Treaty and the THGBPA, to bring about “cultural, economic, and environmental revitalization” for our people.

 

The NA-ESA will provide for education, training, and vocational opportunities in preparing tribal members in the fields of  science and biology to undertake our own management programs. Crucially, this initiative will also provide for eco-tourism opportunities; from training and employing guides, to reservation/reserve infrastructure potential through the hospitality industry, which will allow for outside business investment to be attracted. Each aspect will foster cultural revitalization and immersion, as all of these initiatives can be undertaken in a cultural context, which aids in the perpetuation of culture. GIC will actively pursue the NA-ESA, and advocate that the framework for the legislation be compatible for adoption by tribal nations in the four hemispheres. The name can be changed to reflect the tribe and continent.

 

Our culture cannot be changed, and we refuse to be kept hostage to a colonial doctrine any longer. We do not need permission to take control of our destiny, and that of our two-legged, four-legged and winged relatives. Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ.