BLACKFOOT CONFEDERACY LEADERS CALL US GOVERNMENT GRIZZLY DE-LISTING AN ACT OF “CULTURAL GENOCIDE”
“The grizzly bear is central to some of our oldest and most sacred narratives, accounts that speak to the creation of constellations and the coming of sacred bundles. The circumstances do not exist that would make us, the stewards of this land, turn on our relative, the grizzly bear, to satisfy the US government, state game agencies, and affluent white trophy hunters,” Chief Yellow Old Woman impresses upon the Secretary.
“The grizzly bear has been significant to the Blackfoot people since the time of our Creation,” says Chief Stanley Grier of the Piikani Nation.
Chief Grier describes the grizzly as “a fundamental part of our existence,” and for that reason he categorizes the US government’s intent to delist the Great Bear and enable the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to open trophy hunts on them as an act of cultural genocide.
Chief Charles Weasel Head of the Blood Tribe and Chief Yellow Old Woman “fully concur” with Chief Grier’s assessment.
“It is cultural genocide. I wouldn’t put it any other way,” agrees Blackfeet Councilwoman Cheryl Little Dog. “To delist and allow trophy hunting of the grizzly bear is the government again saying to our people, ‘Forget how sacred the grizzly bear is. Forget your sacred ways,’” she says.
The Blackfeet Nation is now in the eye of the grizzly delisting storm. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suggest that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) intended to target the Blackfeet Nation as the key to facilitating the delisting of the grizzly population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) if the government and states were again thwarted in Greater Yellowstone.
“The Region has the horses to focus on only one grizzly delisting effort at a time,” FWS Assistant Director, Gary Frazer, cautioned FWS Director Ashe in a communication dated 3/19/12. Frazer then advised Ashe that FWS grizzly coordinator Chris Servheen would take, “other necessary steps for delisting the bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.”