“There’s somethin’ happenin’ here/what it is ain’t exactly clear…” – Buffalo Springfield, 1967
I know, I know – you think we in the media just make things up. Or you think that we’re so obsessed with bad news we ignore the good news. And you probably think that our two distinguished U.S. senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, have nothing better to do than complain about Republican obstructionism.
Why, you may ask, don’t they get together with some of their western counterparts and do something heartwarming and bipartisan, something that will unite our great region?
I’m happy to report that, as co-sponsors of the National Bison Legacy Act, they tried to do just that.
The bill, had it been passed by Congress, would have designated the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States. Co-sponsored by 11 senators, the bill was introduced last year, given two readings, and referred to the “Committee on the Judiciary,” where it has languished ever since.
A companion bill was introduced in the House, sponsored by six Democrats (including Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder) and six Republicans (not including Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs). Alas, the House bill suffered the same fate as the Senate’s noble effort – it died in committee.
Yet, as the authors of the bill(s) hopefully pointed out, there are at least 18 reasons to pass it, so maybe following the President’s inspirational second inaugural address, the newly seated Congress will whoop it joyfully through and make it the law of the land.
In support of the act, its authors argue that bison are really, like, extremely cool animals. Buffalo Bills! Colorado Buffaloes! Buffalo nickels! Sacred Native American type-stuff, like the Intertribal Buffalo Council, incorporated pursuant to section 17 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (commonly known as `Indian Reorganization Act’) (25 U.S.C. 477)! National Buffalo Day, to be celebrated the first Thursday in November!
I don’t know about you, but the idea of a new national holiday falling on a Thursday is immensely appealing. Four-day weekend, anyone??!!
We’re also reminded that bison are good to eat, and that 4,499 bison producers were creating good jobs for Americans by creating a sustainable and healthy food source; i.e., by cheerfully slaughtering the soon-to-be national mammal.
Here’s the bill – and believe me, you can’t make this stuff up…unless you’re a member of Congress.
Mr. ENZI (for himself, Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota, Mr. CONRAD, Mr. HOEVEN, Mr. THUNE, Mr. BENNET, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. MORAN, Mr. UDALL of New Mexico, Mr. JOHANNS, and Mr. WHITEHOUSE) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To designate the North American bison as the national mammal of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `National Bison Legacy Act’.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds that–
(1) bison are considered to be a historical symbol of the United States;
(2) bison were integrally linked with the economic and spiritual lives of many Indian tribes through trade and sacred ceremonies;
(3) there are more than 60 Indian tribes participating in the Intertribal Buffalo Council;
(4) numerous members of Indian tribes–
(A) are involved in bison restoration on tribal land; and
(B) have a combined herd on more than 1,000,000 acres of tribal land;
(5) the Intertribal Buffalo Council is a tribal organization incorporated pursuant to section 17 of the Act of June 18, 1934 (commonly known as `Indian Reorganization Act’) (25 U.S.C. 477);
(6) bison play an ecologically important role in modifying and improving the types of grasses found in landscapes to the benefit of grassland ecosystems;
(7) a bison has been depicted on the official seal of the Department of the Interior almost continuously for 94 years;
(8) a bison is portrayed on 2 State flags;
(9) the bison has been adopted by 3 States as the official mammal of those States;
(10) the buffalo nickel played an important role in modernizing the currency of the United States;
(11) several sports teams have the bison as a mascot, which highlights the iconic significance of bison in the United States;
(12) on December 8, 1905, William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt, and others formed the American Bison Society in response to the near extinction of bison in the United States;
(13) on October 11, 1907, the American Bison Society sent 15 bison to the first big game refuge in the United States, which was known as the `Wichita Reserve Bison Refuge’;
(14) in 2005, the American Bison Society was reestablished, bringing together bison ranchers, managers from Indian tribes, Federal and State agencies, conservation organizations, and natural and social scientists from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to create a vision for the North American bison in the 21st century;
(15) bison hold significant economic value for private producers and rural communities;
(16) as of 2007, the United States had 4,499 bison producers creating jobs and providing a sustainable and healthy meat source contributing to the food security of the United States;
(17) there are bison herds in National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks; and
(18) members of Indian tribes, bison producers, conservationists, sportsmen, educators, and other public and private partners have committed to spearheading a national celebration of the North American bison, to be held annually on the first Thursday of November.
SEC. 3. DESIGNATION OF THE NORTH AMERICAN BISON AS THE NATIONAL MAMMAL.
The mammal commonly known as the `North American bison’ is designated as the national mammal of the United States.
You know what to do, don’t you? Write/call/email/text your Congressperson and tell him/her to stop stalling and pass the National Bison Legacy Act!!!