fbpx
 

WASHINGTON —  “It is abundantly clear that since protections were removed, states have accelerated policies which threaten decades of successful wolf recovery efforts across the country. Please join us in urging Secretary Haaland to revisit the decision to delist Gray Wolves,” closes a letter to fellow lawmakers from Members of Congress Donald Beyer, Jr., Raul Grijalva, and Peter DeFazio.

The Congressmen’s letter reflects many of the positions highlighted in "Family," the short film produced by the Global Indigenous Council. Directed by Rain ("Say Her Name"/"Somebody’s Daughter") and narrated by Crystle Lightning ("Trickster"/"Yellowstone"), in its first week of release "Family" generated over 170,000 views across multiple platforms.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

The beautifully shot film has received stellar reviews, its impact felt on cultural, historic, and emotional levels. It offers a vignette of tribal peoples’ ancient connection with the wolf. "Family" closes with an appeal to Haaland to return Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections to the wolf that were stripped by former president Donald Trump. 

Crystle Lightning (Photo/Courtesy of Alter-Native Media)

The letter Reps. Beyer, Grijalva and DeFazio are urging their colleagues to sign to Secretary Haaland emphasizes the post-Trump ESA delisting wolf slaughter in Wisconsin that violated tribal treaty rights, and the “anti-wolf” laws signed by governors Gianforte and Little in Montana and Idaho respectively."Family" highlights each.

“The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources authorized a hunt in late February at the height of breeding season, with a quota of 119 wolves,” the Congressional letter details. “Set to take place over several days, the hunt was called off after 218 wolves, half of which were females and likely pregnant, were slaughtered in just three days,” it continues.

“In April, the Idaho Senate approved a bill that could allow for the killing of up to 90% of the state’s wolf population. Not only do policies like that threaten the long-term stability of the species, but they also enable cruel and inhumane methods of slaughtering,” the letter elaborates, citing how Montana governor, Greg Gianforte, recently extended “hunting and trapping further into the breeding season.” 

“These policies promote cruel and inhumane slaughter for recreation,” the members of Congress’ letter to Secretary Haaland concludes.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (Photo/Courtesy of Alter-Native Media)

A spokesperson for the Department of Interior told Native News Online, “We don’t have a comment on the film,” but made the following statement:

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not taken a position on recent Idaho and Montana management legislation for the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) gray wolf population. The Department of the Interior is reviewing the 2020 final rule that delisted gray wolves outside of the NRM. This final wolf delisting rule is also under active litigation.”

The spokesperson added, “The Interior Department declined to make the Secretary available for comment.” When pressed on whether Secretary Haaland will meet with a delegation of tribal leaders and take receipt of the Wolf Treaty signed by over 120 tribes, the spokesperson declined to comment.

“The wolf is one of our relatives and has an important role in our culture. The leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA) tribes were among the first to sign the Wolf Treaty. The Trump administration manipulated so-called endangered species issues in devious ways to undermine our treaties, rights, and sovereignty,” said GPTCA Chairman Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

In addition to tribal presidents, chairpersons, and councilpersons, prominent water and earth protectors were invited to sign the treaty. Both Winona LaDuke and Tara Houska, currently on the frontlines of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline struggle, are among the signatories.

Donate today to help us uplift Native Voices, Native Perspectives, and Native News.

In a recent meeting with numerous stakeholders, Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Martha Williams, said FWS wanted to include tribal perspectives on wolf management that would result in a more holistic dynamic. Those present said it was clear that “the lack of consultation” by the Trump administration is a major concern for FWS.

“It shows how far we still have to travel that the prospect of a US presidential administration actually adhering to federal laws, and recognizing our rights and their responsibilities, is a cause for optimism,” said award-winning actress Crystle Lightning.

“Who can’t see this decimation of the wolf as part of the continuing war on Indigenous cultures?” Lightning asked.

A. Gay Kingman, Executive Director of the GPTCA, confirmed that “none of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA) tribes were consulted on the Trump gray wolf ESA delisting. In this instance, we shall again defend our sovereignty, treaty rights, reserved treaty rights, religious and spiritual freedoms, by insisting that FWS honors the trust responsibility the Trump Administration violated.”

“This Trump action on the gray wolf is one more in a catalog of contraventions and it must be reversed,” Kingman added.

A letter from the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC) to FWS opposing the removal of ESA protections from the wolf has proved prophetic.

“One statistic alone demonstrates the folly of removing ESA protections from the gray wolf throughout the lower-48 states: since 2011, in the RMTLC region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, trophy hunters and trappers have killed some 3,500 gray wolves – that is over half of the existing population in those states. These gray wolves were killed in such large numbers due to federal protections being lifted.”

The RMTLC description was of the decimation of the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population, the remainder of which is now subject to a cull of 85% in Montana and 90% in Idaho if the Interior Department does not intercede.

When asked to comment on Governor Gianforte of Montana signing what Reps. Beyer, Grijalva, and DeFazio describe as “inhumane laws which would allow the slaughtering of wolf pups and the use of snares,” "Family" director Rain had a direct reply.

“Crystle played in Yellowstone. Gianforte would love to play John Dutton in Yellowstone but in real-life he’s a transplant. He’s not a Montanan and his only association with Yellowstone is poaching a Yellowstone National Park wolf that was as familiar with people as it was with elk. Owning a Charlie Russell painting and a pair of Lucchese boots doesn’t make you a cowboy.”

 

More Stories Like This

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Surprises Native Nonprofits with $1M in Donations on #GivingTuesday
Biden Affirms Commitment to Tribal Nations, Announces New Initiatives at White House Tribal Nations Summit
PHOTOS: The White House Tribal Nations Summit
WATCH: The White House Tribal Nations Summit 
Tribal Leaders to Attend First In-person White House Tribal Nations Summit in Six Years

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Arianna AmehaeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.