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From  Issue
11 August 2002
Just Yesterday

By Anita Martin

Just yesterday I saw you
Standing alone
Icicles forming a crystal beard under your wooly chin
Your breath came in ragged gasps
As you stood, head down, feet spread wide - exhausted
at the top of a steep incline

The gray night was coming on fast
The men had turned on the headlights of their snowmobiles
The noise of which blasted through the cold still air
Like fingernails on a chalkboard in an empty room
They came in a circle around you,
I could hear them yelling, whooping and cursing
and something else - was it laughter???

They came to within 50 feet of you
As you stood stock still - sides heaving
An icy cloud of breath coming out of your nostrils
You faced them - head on - you knew the fight was over
They had cut you off from your herd
And chased you down to the point of exhaustion
Just for sport

And then -there you were - an innocent victim - guilty
Your crime?
Just being you - a big wild buffalo - walking on ground
That had been yours for thousands of years
Only now it wasn't yours anymore
It belonged to the Public Porkbellies
And was being used to fatten their cattle - and subsequently,
Their pocketbooks

But you didn't know any of this
You only wanted to eat some wild herbs that day - just yesterday
You wanted to begin rebuilding your strength
After an unusually long, cold and hungry winter
And you trod lightly on the soil that day
Not harming anyone or anything - not even their precious cattle
But still the men came on their noisy machines

Before you realized it, they had come between you and the rest of your herd
And the chase was on - it went on for hours
Well into the dusky twilight - when you came to an exhausted standstill
Unable to run any more

One of the men, a big burly man in thick winter clothes
Pulled out his rifle,
Squared you up in his sight - and as you looked death head on
He shot you right between your deep brown eyes
You fell heavy and quick - of that I was grateful - as I watched
helplessly, unseen
I got a few pictures, but who will I show?
Who will stand up?
Who really cares what happened to you that day?

I care - and I'll stand up
I'll speak for you

I'll remember
your brave stance
As you fought hard and lost
But then looked death bravely right in the eye
As time stood still
Just yesterday

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Buffalo Field Campaign
(formerly Buffalo Nations)
PO Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-0070 phone
406-646-0071 fax
buffalo@wildrockies.org
www.wildrockies.org/buffalo
For The Buffalo

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