14 March 2013 A Rally for Bison Posted by: Jonathan Proctor | 2 comments | Share: Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains Representative As I wrote last week, there are a number of anti-bison bills sailing through the Montana state legislature this year. These bills pose all kinds of threats to wild bison, including stopping restoration of wild Yellowstone bison to other parts of the state and allowing landowners to kill all bison that set hoof on private land. We have been working hard with Native American tribes, sportsmen’s groups and other conservation organizations to stop these bills. On Tuesday, we all held a rally inside the Montana capitol building in Helena. Bison supporters from across the state were there to show legislators that the people of Montana want wild bison. Native American tribes from across Montana ran the event, and the crowd was predominantly from Montana’s seven Indian reservations. Dr. Ken Ryan, tribal elder from the Fort Peck Reservation Assiniboine tribe, held what we think is the first-ever pipe ceremony in the capitol building. Senator Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, a member of the Crow tribe, gave a talk that brought the crowd to their feet. A performance from Fort Belknap Reservation’s Wahkpa Nakoda Drum Group reverberated throughout the building. The message was clear: Kill the bills, not the bison. News of the rally appeared in the Great Falls Tribune with a nice video of the event, the Bozeman Chronicle, Montana Public Radio, and local television stations. With so many Montanans speaking out in support of bison and against these harmful bills, we hope these attacks on Montana’s wild bison will soon come to a close. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, check out these photos from the rally: PausePlayPlayPrev|Next The rally took place at the Montana state legislature in Helena. All 10 of the anti-bison bills present serious threats to wild bison, and could put an end to all efforts to restore these iconic animals to the Great Plains. "We're here to help you understand the significance of the buffalo in our culture." - Thomas Christian, member of the Fork Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribal Council, emceed the rally in Helena. Wahkpa Nakoda Drum Group from Fort Belknap Reservation performed for the crowd, a rare event inside the Montana capitol building. Even the artwork on the dome of the capitol building reflects the variety of people and cultures that form Montana. Ervin Carlson, President, Intertribal Buffalo Council, discussed the unanimous tribal opposition to these anti-bison bills. Thomas Anketell, Council Member, Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board, spoke to the crowd about the importance of the new Yellowstone bison herd at Fort Peck Reservation. Tracy King, Fort Belknap Tribal Council President, told the legislators about the importance of wild bison to the tribes. "The buffalo are one with the people of the state of Montana." - Senator Sharon Stewart-Peregoy (D, Crow Agency), a member of the Crow tribe, brought the crowd to its feet with a rousing speech. Jonathan Proctor, Defenders' Rockies and Plains Representative, talks with Defenders' allies Mike Fox, member of the Fort Belknap Tribal Council, and Mark Azure, Director of the Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department, about our collective strategies to kill the bills. Intolerance is the greatest threat to bison today. Together with our allies in the northern Great Plains, we're working to spread acceptance of wild bison and find more places for them to roam, so that we can continue the effort to bring these beautiful animals back to their historic range. Jonathan Proctor, Rockies & Plains Program Director Jonathan oversees Defenders' office in Denver, Colorado strengthening and promoting the diverse programs in the region, and working on species like wild bison, black-footed ferret, and grizzly bear.