Bison bison

Daniel Dyer

Issue 2 * Spring 2000

"These men [the buffalo hunters]...they are destroying the Indians commissary...Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo are exterminated. Then your prairie can be covered with speckled cattle and the festive cowboy who follows the hunter as the second forerunner of an advanced civilization."
Gen. Philip Sheridan, Commander of the Armies of the West, in remarks before the Texas Legislature


The cowboy over ran the plains
driving before him speckled cattle
     bovine herds of locust
unbalanced ecosystem
     desertification of the plains basin.

We were conquered for a lust of beef.

Bison instinctively understand
     what cows will never know
genetic memory tells of the buffalo's superiority
for life on the plains.

Buffalo don't compact the soil
Even distribution of weight
     cattle: 24 pounds per square inch
suffocate precious root systems
          tendons and ligaments to
          hold the earth's body together.
Buffalo people face the blowing snow
oversized head takes the brunt of force
Nipping gingerly at young shoots so as not to
expose their roots
     sessile feet penetrating sod
     seeking subterranean nourishment.

The tracks of the iron horse
     railroad skeleton
creeps westward
like poisonous mist
cutting through our country.


The mChokman
stole land
shot food
destroyed our relationship
then buried our heart.
     A war on the psyche.
Buffalo and Indian, kin
treated the same
     killed and fenced.
We continue to survive.

Remember brothers and sisters,
in the lust for land and cattle
the mChokman ran us before them like
human herds
Treated us with less dignity than
     their precious speckled cows
that the cowboy, as we know from childhood games
is an enemy.


Remember this,
don't encourage continued american colonialism with each bite
of your McBurger.
don't contribute to the destruction of
indigenous culture, here and abroad.


The Yanomami
     forest land seized
     by bulldozer kings
intent on fattening cattle
for a fattening u.s.
remember bite by bite
that beef is
fuel for further exploitation and dislocation.