Horse News

American Indians Offer Programs for Horses That Treat the Sacred Animals as a Way of Life

Story by Pamela Hughes of Indian Country Online

Native Americans Know there is Nothing “Humane” about Horse Butchering

“A person just doesn’t come into this life, they are born into it,” he says. “It’s in your lineage. I could never be on this earth without a horse.”

On November 18, President Obama approved the lifting of a congressional ban on domestic horsemeat inspections. In doing so, he raised the possibility that horses could be legally slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. for the first time in years. Just as important, he spotlighted a major clash of cultures.

Horse meat has long been considered a delicacy in many countries. Today, its cultivation is a highly regulated agribusiness. In Europe, the legal term “humane slaughter” is even used to denote the preparation of horses for eating by people.

But in Indian country, there is little that is viewed as humane about horse butchering. Indeed, so keenly felt are Native views on horses that they raise important questions of long-term relationships with animals who remain indispensable to the Indian way of life.

Vernell White Thunder (Lakota Sioux) of Medicine Root Creek, South Dakota, typifies those who have a complex, even lyrical, understanding of equines. As did his grandfather, he raises and trains spotted Lakota ponies and hosts summer visitors from many parts of the world who ride the horses. “A person just doesn’t come into this life, they are born into it,” he says. “It’s in your lineage. I could never be on this earth without a horse.”

His charges are not just animals, he insists; they are sentient creatures to be cherished and cared for: “I raise horses to be self-sufficient. Romanticism is an easy thing. But if you are lying in bed and it’s 30 below, I know the horse is cold, can’t drink because there is ice on the creek. I break a few and sell for hay, but I am not in it for the money, because it is a way of life, and I have respect and admiration for the horses.”

White Thunder recalls how the Lakota Sioux environment of social service entitlement resulted in learned helplessness, land loss, alcoholism, and horses with nowhere to run. But for his people, at least, things changed when tribal money funded the Big Foot Ride. An annual event, the ride commemorates Chief Big Foot’s band of Minneconjou Lakota and their flight from the Standing Rock Reservation that tragically ended at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, where approximately 300 men, women and children were killed in the last armed engagement between the U.S. Cavalry and the Lakota Sioux on December 29, 1890.

“When you are Lakota, you show up ahead of time and wait for everything to come to you,” he reflects. “Being ready is the Lakota way. We didn’t wait for money to get ready for war. We knew what we had to do.”

Paul Tohlakai, a Diné elder who runs Navajo Trails in Piñon, Arizona, also has a personal interest in the dignity of horses. “My last BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] rescue died at 27 years old,” he recalls. “I learned from that horse as much as from any other human.”

Thus, he is considerably concerned that domestic horse slaughter may resume. Because such slaughter is not a Diné tradition, he says, it is an issue “very sensitive to us, being of the original horse cultures.” Not surprisingly, he is wary of commercial ventures that view horses mainly as a commodity. “For a lot of us, this direct value system is confusing,” Tohlakai says. “For them [business interests], time is money. Native time is sacred.”

Indian country by no means uniformly opposes the selective slaughter of horses. The Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition represents five tribes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington that are being hurt because a population explosion of free-roaming horses is trampling their rangeland forage, which is needed to feed livestock and retain soil. The tribes feel that turning these horses into food might be a solution. It has even been suggested that opening slaughter plants on reservations could provide economic benefits for certain tribes.

But Tohlakai disagrees. Catering as he does to special interest groups from Europe and Japan, he is more interested in sending an important message about Diné heritage. “We have to foster good international understanding about our culture since there is so much misconception and romanticizing,” he says. “We also need to be sharing because there is too much appropriation of Native culture and ceremonies.”

Even a cursory glance at horse-related activities around the nation reveals how deeply and diversely the horse remains embedded in Native tradition. Noqah Elisi from Cherokee, North Carolina, for instance, is readying a July 20 ride from Red Clay, Tennessee to Lame Deer, Montana to commemorate the Trail of Tears and the Cheyenne breakout of Little Wolf and Dull Knife. The ride will end at the house owned by Grandmother Margaret Behan, Arapahoe/Cheyenne, a fourth-generation descendant of the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre. Her property is in Lame Deer, where the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers will have their next council.

“We are combining the rides because of the important history our ancestors shared at that time,” Elisi says. “We will be there for the council and take the blessings and prayers of the Grandmothers back to Red Clay”—the last place the Cherokee met as a united nation before removal.

Elisi emphasizes how the humane nature of the ride reflects deep-seated attitudes toward these special beasts: “We will have no metal in the mouth, no shoes. We are booting them. We don’t use pain as a tool to control.”

So significant is the ride that Crow horseman and stuntman Rod Rondeaux and Suzi Landolphi of Red Horse Nation in Los Angeles are sending horses to participate. Their organization consults with Native American experiential horse programs that deal with at-risk youth and veterans. Red Horse also certifies equine-therapy programs like the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. And it has trained 30 National Indian Youth Leadership Program counselors in the organization’s Gallup, New Mexico office in wild-horse therapeutic techniques.

Furthermore, Red Horse has a California affiliate, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, which provides horses for a variety of affirming purposes. In April, Lifeseavers delivered a large herd of wild mustangs to rancher Bryan Deans of Slim Butte, South Dakota. There, Deans runs the Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, which is a provider for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Access to Recovery program. This community-driven wellness initiative will initially be licensing men in permaculture—an ecological design system that supports sustainability, green building and much horse training.

“We are creating and changing a mindset where money isn’t an emphasis,” says Deans. “We can grow our own food, build our own homes and barter exchange. When you change your mindset you can do something for yourself.”

By employing wild horses for such uses as job training, mental well-being, recreation and other purposes, Red Horse and Lifesavers have shown that slaughter is not the only means available for dealing with their burgeoning numbers. And they are not alone. Witness the efforts of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which has a representative on the Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition.

The Umatillas are using adoption and auction to reduce a herd of 307 to 100 on 147,000 acres. They are also researching youth programs and a partnership with a local community college. The tribe uses the PZP vaccine to prevent reproduction. Still, manager Gordy Schumacher of the Department of Natural Resources’ Range, Ag & Forestry Program acknowledges that he will probably have to find homes for 50 horses every year.

But opportunities are available, say natural horsemanship veterans. “I think there is a tremendous market for mustangs gentled by Native Americans,” says Jim Rea, a veteran trainer in Colorado. “You have to have a reputation for being able to turn out a soft, smooth horse that is not afraid.”

And then there is the equine science program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, a small private college in Indiana, which has partnered with the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse adoption program for five years.

“We’ve always had an untouched yearling course,” says stable manager Angie McMillin. “Our colts come in every March. Students can be as creative with them as they would like to be, but we have certain training requirements. The program has gotten us a lot of exposure and it’s been extraordinary for the students.”

For sheer concerted consideration and humane use of horses, though, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community of Arizona serves as an exemplary model. Through the process of adoption, the community has reduced its herd by half, from 400 to 200. The program, says manager Brian Gewecke, is a 12-month trial ownership with initial inspections and two to three follow-ups per year. Meanwhile, the Salt River Rodeo Association runs a cowboy camp for youth, complete with traditional Tohono O’Odham teachings on life that instill respect for the animals.

The tribe’s stated policy is forceful, categorical and definitive: “The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (‘SRPMIC’) finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic heritage of the community and that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the community and enrich the lives of the people. It is the policy of SRPMIC that these animals shall be protected from capture, harassment, starvation, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the community lands.”

Altogether, Indian country is employing many innovative techniques and programs to save one of nature’s most majestic creations from ending up as just another dinner entrée. Filmmaker Janet Kern, who is currently completing her documentary on the legendary Nez Perce horses—a project that has been 14 years in the making—needs no convincing.

“The horses,” Kern says, “understand the songs.”

Click (HERE) to visit Indian Country

37 replies »

  1. Most First Nations people care about horses. It is only the council of the Northwest tribe who favor slaughter . If they’d get rid of some of their cattle which are really causing the damage there would be pasture for the horses .


    • my great great grandma was half Lakota, her name was Minnie Swan. even though i was raised in the dirty old concrete canyons of los angeles county, i grew up loving horses. i don’t understand how any american cannot feel grattitude towards our horses for their enabling us to build this great nation and freedom from england!! how soon people forget.


  2. I know Suzi Landolphi and Bryan Deans mentioned in this article. They typify the real respect and connection with our horses.

    I think the motives of the Yakima Nation and others of the Northwest Tribes have been tarnished by the dominant culture. Their wildlife biologist Jim Stephenson went in willingly with the UOH calling for slaughter. He is in charge of Yakima “wild horse management” and is said to have a “plan.” Seeing a photo of him, he sure looks white to me. And, he was just named to replace J.Wayne Berserkhardt on the BLM Wild Horse Advisory Board.

    I’d ride with Suzi and Bryan any day, and I am glad this article is out with the real story of Indian Country and Horses.


    • someone needs to inform the yakima indians that they owe their lives to the noble horses. God’s Holy Word says; eat the animal with cloven hooves and that chews the cud. and; The righteous man cares for the needs of his animal and also Your destruction of animals will terrify you. who can argue with our Creator?


      • Most of the Yakama people oppose horse slaughter . The Councils of the different tribes made the decision for it against the wishes of the people . A member of the tribe called me a few years ago and told me it was only the Council members. Seems they are like Congress members who are only listening to the Farm Bureau and Big Ag..


  3. Anyone know how many Northwest tribes pushing slaughter have a culture of the horse? Those tribes, last I checked are basically cultures of fishing and hunting on foot close to rivers and the Pacific coast. And anyone that does business with DOINK needs a brain check.


    • According to this website, many member states are not strictly “fishing and hunting on-foot” oriented culturally.

      I do not know which “Members” (check the tab members to see the States represented — which include CA, NV, Oregon, Montana and Idaho) support horse slaughter but was a little surprised so many diverse states (some of which have native wild horse populations) were included in membership!


    • According to this website, many member states are not strictly “fishing and hunting on-foot” oriented culturally. (Click on Membership in the heading for a drop-down menu of states — each state is “clickable.”

      I do not know which “Members” (check the tab members to see the States represented — which include CA, NV, Oregon, Montana and Idaho) support horse slaughter but was a little surprised so many diverse states (some of which have native wild horse populations) were included in membership!


  4. This is a December 2011 article from The Navajo Times:

    For some reason, you can see part of my comment, but it won’t post. This is what I wrote:

    If the Navajos build one or several horse slaughterhouses, I suggest the locations be published as part of brochures on tours of Indian Country. I know I’ll be making tourists aware of this inhumane practice as they travel through Farmington. I read the Navajos and other Indian nations asked the federal government for help with their horse problems several years ago, and the BIA, BLM, USDA, and HSUS offered assistance. Most Nations turned them down, allowing populations to go unchecked. Was the intent to encourage breeding specifically for slaughter? If so, I consider it totally irresponsible!


    • The Native People’s leadership is deeply divided on many issues; including who their true leaders and spokes persons are.


      • I live in AZ. I have worked in Navajo Nation. Many Farms is an area like, Blackrock, Cameron, Ganado, Mexican Water, Mexican Hat, Oraibi, Ramah (NM), Red Lake, Shonto, Tsegi, Wide Ruins) where individual horses are generally not cared for at all. The “tour guides” more often than not treat them very poorly as throw away animals similar to the dogs and cats that roam freely. I have witnessed this personally at each of these locations for over 25 years. The Nation like a country has it’s good and bad, and in the North Central and North Eastern area horses are generally well cared for and in some cases folks understand the benefits of natural horsemanship approaches, etc., as opposed to yanking on the hard bit, banging the horse in the head, and digging in spurs to get a response. I have horses from the Navajo Nation and one of them has over 800 spur scars in his flanks (I stopped counting at 800). I have not worked with anyone there for the past 6 years so I cannot comment on how the President Ben Shelly or their Department of Agriculture in Window Rock or the local Chapters would event being to explore the issue. I hope to hell it never gets wings under it.


  5. As a very new watcher of what happens in US regarding the wildhorses & burros (am in UK and only aware since last spring), what confuses me is:
    1) The native Americans must have used the wildhorses off the range before Europeans ever set foot on US soil, so why are the ‘authorities’ saying that they are not native.
    2) Surely all the coloured horses i.e. paints & appaloosa ponies are not descendants of the Spanish conquistadors.

    If anyone can enlighten me I would be most grateful.


    • Not a quick answer Jean.

      You are asking for an answer that requires in depth knowledge of Native Peoples, their culture (with or without the horse), anthropology, forensic archaeology, anthropology, environmental/eco science and the impact of Man (indigenous or not).

      People will not all come to the same conclusion(s).

      The issue is about the treatment of equines, wild and domestic and the land with all her resources.


  6. Jean, I don’t have the exact information handy, but horses were a native species millions of years ago but died out. They were reintroduced by the Spaniards and that is how the Indians got their horses. I’ll have to look up the exact information from the lecture I heard on this. But the horse IS a native species and NOT feral, as the BLM maintains. But this is a phoney argument anyway, certainly cattle are not native, yet it’s ok by this agency that cattle numbers are now around 400 to every horse. The horses have no lobbyists like all the special interests and therefore are captured and killed needlessly. But a new day is coming, people are becoming more informed and the public has the morals that government agencies seem to have lost.


    • Dear Ms. Simon,

      I am writing to briefly comment on your WSJ article on wild horse castration, but only with regard to a particular scientific issue: the “native” or “endemic” vs. “alien” or “invasive” status of wild horses in North America. Although these terms are used in different ways by different people or interest groups, I’ll stick with an evolutionary definition of a “native” species as being one that differentiated or diverged from its immediate ancestor species within a specific geographical locale.
      In my view, the primary considerations are these:
      1. It is correct that the standing crop of wild horses in the US is recently derived from lines domesticated in Europe (and Asia).
      2. But those lines themselves go much further back in time, and converge on populations that lived in North America during the latter part of the Pleistocene (2.5M to 10k years ago). The evidence for this, until recently, has been primarily morphological, based on comparisons of living vs. fossil horses. The genetic evidence from ancient DNA is still preliminary, but it seems to point to the same conclusion, which is that the species Equus caballus–the species encompassing all domestic horses and their wild progenitors–arose on this continent.
      3. The evidence thus favors the view that this species is “native” to North America, given any rational understanding of the term “native”. By contrast, there are no paleontological or genetic grounds for concluding that it is native to any other continent.
      4. From a scientific standpoint, it is completely irrelevant that native horses died out in North America 10,000 years ago, or that later populations were domesticated in central Asia 6000 years ago. Such considerations have no bearing on their status as having originated on this continent.
      5. It is worth noting that dozens of other species in addition to native horses died out at the close of the Pleistocene, in an episode termed the megafaunal extinctions. The only major difference is that, long before 10,000 bp, E. caballus had established itself on other continents (South America as well as Eurasia) by crossing landbridges. There they survived. Reintroduction to North America 500 years ago is, biologically, a non-event: horses were merely returned to part of their former native range, where they have since prospered because ecologically they never left.
      5. Whether these considerations should play a role in policy decisions I leave to others. At the same time, it needs to be more widely understood that the horse’s status as a native North American species is beyond serious question, whatever side of the debate over wild horse control one leans toward.

      Ross MacPhee, PhD

      Division of Vertebrate Zoology
      American Museum of Natural History
      New York NY 10024

      This was a response to an article that contended that horses were non-native from esteemed Ross MacPhee

      One thing that does confuse people is that burros originated in North America and are equus. Frequently, the articles make the jump leaving the burros behind, but they are native too.


  7. This is a START . . .

    The fact is that Americans dont eat horses. Polls taken over the years have consistantly shown that most Americans find the thought of eating horseflesh reprehensible. Nevertheless, despite Americas abhorance to the notion of eating horses, America continues to be the worlds largest exporter of horses for human consumption abroad.

    Currently, there is a bill in the United States Congress that would protect our American Horses from slaughter for human consumption. The bill, HR 503, would also protect them from being exported to other countries for slaughter. HR 503 is a very popular bill, not only with the majority of the American people but with a majority of legislators too. Our opponents are few but powerful, that is, they have the money to influence the vote in DC., and they do. (It only takes ONE wrongway
    vote to kill a bill)

    The SAD and REAL story here is that last summer, The National Congress of American Indians quietly submitted to our U.S. Congress, “invoking the devine blessing of the creator upon their efforts,”… a proposal to amend HR 503, our National anti-horse slaughter bill. They are seeking to include an ammendment that will allow for the building of horse-slaughter plants on Indian lands.

    You can read the full text of the proposed amendment below”

    Click to access DEN-07-100_with_sigs_amended_dc.pdf

    Also, the Northwest Tribes are Teaming Up to Join them in their Prayer to Slaughter horses;

    Please contact the National Congress of American Indians to tell them what you think of their idea. Below is a link to their site:


      • Wild Horse & Burro Friends ~ In my opinion, we now need to focus on Senators with respect to the House Bills that have passed and the current Bill in the Senate Committee. As you know very well, many members of the House are with us, but the Senate is killing these Bills once out of the House. Our contact base needs to focus on members of the Senate now either with respect to Bills already passed by the House or in particular the Slaughter Bill in the Senate Committee.


        1) S. 1176: American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011

        112th Congress: 2011-2012

        A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.

        Status ~ Introduced June 9th, 2011. Referred to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. This Committee has 25 members.

        2) H. Res. 331: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 249) to restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros.

        110th Congress: 2007-2008

        Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 249) to restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros.

        Status ~ Passed House April 26th, 2007. Died in Senate. Killed by Senator Reid, NV.

        3) H. Res. 653: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1018) to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to improve the management and long-term health of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and for other purposes.

        111th Congress: 2009-2010

        Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1018) to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to improve the management and long-term health of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and for other purposes.

        Status ~ Passed House July 17th 2009. Died in Senate. Killed by Senator Reid, NV.

        4) H.R. 1018: Restore Our American Mustangs Act

        111th Congress: 2009-2010

        To amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to improve the management and long-term health of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and for other purposes.

        Status ~ Passed House July 17th 2009. Died in Senate. Killed by Senator Reid, NV.


    • Thanks for bringing this amendment to light. When the live horse industry contributes billions to our economy, many times over what the entire horse slaughter industry does (and most of this goes out of our country), it would seem the better direction would be to assist tribes in developing programs like those noted here.

      Actually, there has been more than one piece of legislation in both houses since 2007 to abolish the slaughter of horses once and for all, whether on U.S. soil or across the borders. Congress has chosen not to act and nearly a half million horses have died brutal deaths as a result. Now that it has come out that the increase in population of horses roaming abandoned at the Mexico border is a result of kill buyers dumping them when they are rejected because U.S. horse mean is not acceptable in Europe anymore without full documentation of medications given to the horse, it further highlights the cruelty of the industry. Rather than taking responsibility and seeking to get them to sanctuaries, the kill buyers just left them to die a slow death by starvation and dehydration. Last figure I saw was just over 5300 horses. Until this report came to light, it was thought the influx of abandoned horses was due to the economy. Now we know it is due to irresponsible kill buyers which further demonstrates this is a group of people that is devoid of compassion and only sees dollar signs.


  8. I am so happy you have posted this important article, R.T. Red Horse Nation, is fully supporting Wild Burro Protection League’s Ride For Life on January 18th in Austin, TX at the Capital grounds. Rod Rondeaux, his daughter Chey and his wife Rachael are all participating. Chey will ride a mammoth donkey named Hannah who is magic in her tiny child warrior hands, and Rod will ride a mustang named Windy. Rachael, as always will have camera in hand as we deliver the 103,000 lovingly written signatures of protest against the wholesale killing of the last herd of wild burros in the state of Texas. We are so grateful to Suzi for her official letter denouncing Governor Perry and Texas Park’s and Wildlife Department’s policy to eliminate so many species. They do not honor the lives they take. They are left to rot where they fall, and this includes, elk, aoudad, hogs, cougar, bobcat and our dear revered wild burro too.

    I am looking forward to honoring the lives who have given so much to humankind. I am looking forward to declaring my kindred spirit to the lives of our beautiful wild hearts. Thank you, Red Horse Nation, Lifesavers, and Suzi Landolphi for your hearts and determination to preserve for those yet unborn, the truth of nature and the spirit of the heart.

    I thank also Wild Horse Freedom Federation for the support they will be giving on our ride as well. Terry has been a true friend to the burros, and we love her for it.

    Marjorie Farabee


  9. The Nokota Horse Conservancy whose mission it is to preserve the native horse of the Northern Plains has a program called the Dreamkeepers Project. They would like to bring together the horse that once belonged to the Lakota people to them and have an ongoing program. The financing is minimal though I know money is allocated for program for Native Americans. If anyone knows how to help with this project please contact them at


  10. I volunteered at a horse rescue and have seen a number of veterinary exams of extremely neglected horses. Some were 1/2 Henneke body score or less. Even without a blood draw, I have a pretty good Idea which animals are beyond rehabilitation. This may sound harsh, but if I had my way I’d buy a rifle, have someone teach me exactly how to put a horse down with a single shot to the brain. Find as many animals beyond help as possible. Stroke them. Praise them. Tell them what I’m doing is out of pure love. Then pull the trigger and send them to a better place. At some point, I’d get arrested and serve time, but you know, it just might be worth it.


    • You are losing me on a few points, but I have never disagreed with a qualified bullet to the brain.

      However…..people that need slaughter and multiple bullets to multiple brains begs a question: What are you doing with equines that requires the repedity of death, young or old, sick or well?


  11. Linda, if blood exams show kidney and /or liver damage or other test results that are beyond recovery horses can be euthanized by a vet at rescues. I don’t believe in speading thousands on some horses for recovery , but until they are given professional evaluations I don’t think anybody can tell just by looking. JMHO.


  12. When read this article, it reminded me of a comment made by one of the readers on another blog:
    You might find this worthwhile. It makes way more sense to me: Anglo American-style courts have existed in Diné Bikeyah now for a prolonged period of more than a hundred years, from the establishment of the Navajo Courts of Indian Offenses in 1892 run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to the present Navajo Nation court system. The courts institutionalized bilagáana bi nahaz’áanii or the Anglo American Law Way in the procedures of the modern courts, while our judges have sought to apply the Diné Life Way in the substance of their decisions. Court processes and procedures have been largely left to the Anglo American Law Way.
    The court system of resolving disputes or administering justice has displaced the processes and procedures of Navajo culture. It is not unusual to find elderly Navajos in a courtroom who are bewildered, even angry, that baa yáti is not encouraged by the presiding judge. Many Navajos are deeply resentful of courtroom protocols that seem to silence discussion and silence the introduction of good evidence. People have expressed an emptiness and lack of satisfaction at the outcomes available through courts. Punishment by incarceration, without a community component, is a further anomaly in the court system that adds to a public sense that the court system is removed from Navajo life and does not fully address Navajo needs, both in the outcome of the litigation, and the manner in which a matter is resolved. Finally, the courts are adversarial in nature. The parties are kept in a confrontational position until the end of the proceedings at which there is a winner and loser, which is counter to our cultural value of a middle way.
    The return of the Diné Life Way to the processes and procedures of the modern court is what the Rules Harmonization Project seeks to rectify. Their effort will be on the basis of this document, revised and refined with the feedback and assistance of the Navajo people.


    BLM Investigating After Wild Horses Shot In Idaho
    By Associated Press
    POSTED: 4:32 pm MST January 6, 2012
    BOISE, Idaho — The Bureau of Land Management is investigating the shooting deaths of two wild mustangs on the Hardtrigger Wild Horse Herd Management Area in southwestern Idaho.
    The BLM said it received a report Tuesday from someone who spotted the dead horses on public land about 15 miles southeast of Marsing.
    The agency is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shootings.
    BLM State Director Steve Ellis says the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act states it is a federal crime for anyone to maliciously cause the death of a wild horse.
    Anyone with information is asked to call Loren Good, Idaho BLM Law Enforcement, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, at (208) 373-4024.


  14. Dear Mr. Fitch:

    Your subhead “Native Americans know…” miconstrues the content of this article. The only statement made in this regard is that horse slaughter in the American industrial manner is not part of Dine traditional culture. There is no adversarial nature to this article at all if you read it closely, and fanning the flames of this adversarial relationship between activists and politicians does nothing constructive for those who are attempting to live a way of life as what I have attempted to describe. Native Americans do not need this kind of “help” but it would bode your readers well to do their own research to understand land loss, alcoholism, etc. that “horse cultures” struggle with.


  15. Wow. There is a lot of absorb here both in R. T.’s post and in the comments. I did enjoy following the link at the end of the article to the Indian Country site. Good article on Section 1031 which has been pretty controversial in this part of the country.

    Being basically a product of the South and East, I have only a cursory understanding of the difficulty Native American peoples continue to face. The poetry and art of Native Americans is beautiful and often poignant. I have found the understanding they share about the Earth and nature, life and death has enhanced the understanding that I have based on my own cultures(s) and experiences.

    I do not understand why more has not been done to help Native American people assimilate in other cultures or to live together but be more of an active part of non-tribal communities. I understand the relationship of alcoholism to the loss of land since ownership of land represents a means to make a living, wealth, social position, personal identify, personal legacy for your family, etc. It seems like some of this federally owned land should be returned to tribes, particularly those lands which may have valuable mineral or gas rights. If there is wealth in the land, it seems like it is the Native American people who lived in the area that should be benefitting from these rights, not people like the Rock Springs Cattleman’s Association?

    But what I really want to know is what in the heck is a pro-horse slaughter (which is against the intent of PL 92-135, U.S.C. 16) person put on the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board? The BLM has rigged the game against the wild horses and burros, and we simply cannot stand for it.


  16. “Stealing horses is stealing power” was a statement made frequently in historical Native America and a reference to the esteemed role which Horse played in the Native cultures.

    Horse is physical And unearthly power. In shamanic practices throughout the world, Horse enables shamans to fly through the air and reach heaven.”

    (Jami Sams and David Carson, Native American authors of “Medicine Cards”)

    They are also called the Thunder Beings. There is another called Wind Horse.


  17. I have learned a lot (from the ‘web’) about our American Indians — and there are nations everywhere — all around us — and represented in South and East as well!

    There are American Indians in my ancestry, prior to the Civil War era, on my Mom’s side, but we grew up in an era of national denial. One interesting statistic I learned is that American Indians are represented and have been, in the US Military, more than any other ‘minority’ group, for generations. Another thing I learned is that there was a wealthy American Indian, in the south, who owned a plantation and had ‘black’ slaves. “Black/American Indians” — and probably all other ethnic combos have made their homes here and contributed to our American culture for hundreds of years.

    “My” culture (“White”) on the census forms — is living in a dream world if we continue to think we are the center of the universe. . .hopefully that has all changed. Many sea changes have happened — and will continue to — our youth lives in a different world than we did, and the multitude of religions on American soil strive to make this world a better place, to teach people to live in harmony and to make decisions where anger, hate, ego are minimized. End of Speech.




    • There is no choice but to expect it, and demand it, what else are you going to do as a wild horse and burro advocate?

      What was done to the prosperous, culturally modern and sophisticated people of the Cherokee nation happened because of a twist of fate in Washington, D.C.

      This is also how the Burns Amendment got in — a turns of events in Washington, D.C. that went against the wild and free roaming horses and burros on American public land.

      And an equally sneaky then-Missouri Senator Roy Blunt recently dislodged slaughter protections just recently.

      It all flows from Washington, D.C. — from our “Public Servants.”

      Anyone listen to Ralph Nadar yesterday? He is against the corporatism in our government.

      There is no one solution You don’t have to “expect” change in order to work for change.


  19. Were we to put our energies into the “now” instead of the past, what vehicle can we get on to make the most profound impact toward change in this reprehensible industry? Not to say we don’t need the education and understanding that comes from knowledge of history and the past but the significance is what we do now. There are many organizations formed by people who care. Perhaps if we were all to get behind one we would have a louder voice. Where is the best place to start? Which is needed most, money or manpower?


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