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American Bison: Naturally Self-Giving and Resilient

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In the United States, the bison is an iconic animal, commonly referred to as the American buffalo. When we are babies, we are called “red dogs” because of our orange-red fur. As we grow up, the hair turns dark brown. We have distinctive physical features – a huge head with short, curving black horns, a big, muscular shoulder hump and a shaggy coat. The hair in the front is longer than in the rear. Our hooves are circular and strong; when we run, the dust they kick up makes for a spectacular scene. As a matter of fact, many of our activities have a positive impact on the ecosystem. The way that we graze not only provides nesting grounds for our winged friends, but by feeding mostly on grasses and avoiding other plants, we influence biodiversity. During harsh winters, our size and strength enable us to plow through deep snow, creating pathways that other animals can use to reach food. Before immigrants came to North America from Europe, there were 30-60 million bison roaming the continent – from northern Canada to Mexico, and from eastern Washington to New York. They were integral to the lives of the indigenous tribes living on the Northern Great Plains. A spiritual connection developed to such an extent that the people appreciated us as their brothers. This relationship was reinforced by ceremonies and dances. In 2014, then-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief, the Honorable Bill John Baker expressed it this way, “For most of us, the American bison symbolizes our great country – free, strong and resilient. Those are the traits we identify in ourselves as Indian people. That’s why the bison has always represented something deeply spiritual to our tribal ancestors.” Throughout history, the indigenous tribes of North America have held us in high regard and it is well known that Native American culture deeply cherishes our planet and nature. I think all humans can learn from this. At this crisis point for the Earth and its inhabitants, I invite you to pray with me that humanity will finally recognize the interconnectedness of all life and learn to duly honor all embodied souls by forsaking war and banning animal products forever. May people understand, once and for all, that they must be loving if they want our world to become a peaceful paradise for all beings.
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