The beast that used to rule the Great Plains for millennia now will have at least a day in its honor, thanks to a bipartisan group of U.S. senators.
Tomorrow, Nov. 2, 2013, has designed “National Bison Day” by a Senate resolution introduced by South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson and his colleagues, including South Dakota Sen. John Thune, across the aisle.
Actually, the Senate resolution simply affirms what members of Indian tribes, bison producers, conservationists, sportsmen, educators and others got started when they held the first annual National Bison Day on Nov. 1, 2012, with a commitment to make it an annual event on the first Saturday of November.
Not every piece of work that comes out of Congress is worth the trouble it takes to read, but parts of this resolution are. The text tells us that bison can play an important role in improving the types of grasses found in landscapes to the benefit of grasslands; that bison have been depicted on the official seal of the Department of the Interior since 1912; that as of 2007, the United States had 4,499 bison producers creating jobs and providing a sustainable and healthy meat source; that there are bison in state-managed herds across 11 states; that the bison is portrayed on two state flags; it has been adopted by three states as the official mammal or animal of those states; and that in its incarnation as the buffalo nickel, the bison played an important role in modernizing the currency of the United States.
Also, the text points out that there are more than 60 Indian tribes participating in the Intertribal Buffalo Council, presumably because of their deep cultural ties to the bison.
It’s a reminder to us all that our part of the world has always had a livestock economy; it just wasn’t always built on beef.
And no matter how we all like cows, we all know, as Scotty Philip and others knew before us, that there ought to always be a home on the range for these living symbols of the Great Plains.