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Nez Perce chairman defends bison hunt, says it's important for tribes

2014-03-06T07:00:00Z Nez Perce chairman defends bison hunt, says it's important for tribesBy TOM KUGLIN Independent Record Helena Independent Record
March 06, 2014 7:00 am  • 

Calling the demonstration disturbing, the tribal chairman of the Nez Perce responded to a protest at the Montana state Capitol Tuesday that accused his tribe of hunting female bison with fully developed fetuses.

James St. Goddard of the Blackfoot Confederacy came to the governor’s office Tuesday carrying a bison heart wrapped in a plastic bag. Goddard claimed he had taken the heart from a bison killed by Nez Perce hunters near Gardiner, and wanted Gov. Steve Bullock to stop the late-season hunt.

Speaking for the Nez Perce, tribal chairman Silas Whitman countered Wednesday, saying that the Blackfeet have no aboriginal hunting rights to the Yellowstone herd, and those tribes that do have rights already came to the table to determine seasons. The three tribes with hunting rights are the Nez Perce, Umatilla and Salish Kootenai.

“We will not bend to our enemies,” Whitman said. “He said the hunt sets us back 150 years. For him to come down and say the governor should take action, that sets us back even more.”

Whitman added that although the killing of pregnant female bison is not his tribe’s preference, the Montana Department of Livestock wants to stop the spread of brucellosis to domestic cattle. The Native American hunts do just that, while also providing food for members of his tribe.

“It’s unfortunate that fetuses are involved,” Whitman said. “We deal with the hand we’ve been given, and our people need to eat.”

He added that Nez Perce hunters typically bring back as much of the bison as possible, but that sometimes hides and organs are left based on conditions in the field. The placing of bison hearts in a high point is not a custom of his tribe, he said, which is a Blackfeet custom according to St. Goddard.

Whitman said that his tribe will continue to work in concert with those tribes that have recognized rights, as well as state and federal officials. He hoped to meet soon with the governor and the other recognized tribes to address concerns about the bison hunt. A date had not been determined.

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(3) Comments

  1. katqanna
    Report Abuse
    katqanna - March 06, 2014 11:11 am
    Not only could you not comment on the Protest article, but there was a lot more to this protest than just pregnant bison and hearts. St. Goddard was protesting the Native American Nations being used to do the APHIS and MT Dept. of Livestock's dirty work. Even MT state hunters are being used (bison hunting under DOL jurisdiction, not FWP). http://www.emwh.org/issues/brucellosis/IBMP%20bison%20hunting%20tool.htm This isnt about brucellosis, its politics. There has never been a documented case of bison to cattle transmission naturally. It is the elk genotype which has transmitted to some of the cases in the GYA states. Others have been cattle brucellosis or vaccine blooms - but not bison - different genetics.
  2. GreatWhite
    Report Abuse
    GreatWhite - March 06, 2014 10:45 am
    Why is it anyone feels they have 'rights' to a wild animal? No one has 'rights' to them.

    And what's with the "Whitman added that although the killing of pregnant female bison is not his tribe’s preference, the Montana Department of Livestock wants to stop the spread of brucellosis to domestic cattle."

    When, Mr. Whitman, did that EVER happen?? How many times does that old adage have to be regurgitated when it has absolutely NO validity?? Never has it been documented that Bison pass brucellosis to domestic cattle in the wild. EVER!! (Do you get residuals from the DOL everytime this lie is spoken??)

    And, of course, the 'serious' comment: “We will not bend to our enemies,” Whitman said. “He said the hunt sets us back 150 years. For him to come down and say the governor should take action, that sets us back even more.”

    First of all Mr. Whitman, who are these 'enemies' you will not bend for? Secondly, it seems like the hunt does set you back a good 150 years. Welcome to 2014!! It's called 'evolving'!

    It seems to me James St. Goddard is trying to drag you into the modern age of man.
  3. blueman13
    Report Abuse
    blueman13 - March 06, 2014 9:54 am
    Anybody else find it odd you can't comment on the story about the "protest"?

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