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Jason Baldes on Buffalo and Land Rematriation

Caption for photo: Buffalo walking through landscape with birds on their backs. Photo credit: Hari Nanakumar.

October 4, 2023

Excerpt from Episode 350 of For The Wild Podcast

Hosted by Ayana Young | For The Wild Podcast

Bringing us to the Wind River Reservation, this week’s guest, Jason Baldes, shares his work to bring back wild Buffalo to Wind River and to rematriate land to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes. 

Jason offers his deep wisdom about the ecological, spiritual, and cultural importance of buffalo, detailing the health benefits of eating buffalo, the ecological benefits of their migration and grazing, and the healing benefits of connection to these animals.

Jason’s work with the Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative has already had an immense effect. This was the first time in 139 years that the Shoshone tribe was able to take their own animals from their own lands for their annual Sundance ceremonies. A reciprocal relationship with buffalo, not one based on commodification or profit can be the base of a healthier relationship to the land.

The physical and cultural landscape of the so-called United States is steeped in a colonial worldview, but work like Jason’s is changing the tides and aligning conservation with long-standing Indigenous values. This healing work honors those ancestors who had buffalo, land, and ritual stolen from them by the United States government.

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