In this episode, we continue our investigation of the Great Plains Bison with a visit to 777 Bison Ranch near Rapid City, South Dakota. Owner Mimi Hilenbrandt and fellow operations manager Moritz Espy gave us a tour of the pastures and corrals. Along the way, we discussed differences and similarities between bison and cattle, the possibility of a buffalo commons, their business model and how it affects the bison, and how their decades of Holistic Management and bison grazing have led to regeneration of the prairie landscape. We also discussed a few of the complex questions the bison forces us to wrestle with.
In our visit with Mark Tilsen in the Black Hills for Episode 5 about Tanka Bar, our interview happened to take place right before a prayer walk to a proposed gold mining site up the creek from Mark’s place. As I began to include this synchronous content in the Tanka Bar episode, I realized that it lit up a section of the rabbit hole that needed it’s own episode for a proper introduction, so I created this bonus episode to explore some of the complexities that emerged while looking at gold mining in the Black Hills. It includes another historical introduction, audio from the prayer walk, and recordings from phone conversations with Mark Tilsen and Cheryl Rowe of Dakota Rural Action.
In this episode, the second of four in this series on the bison in the Great Plains, we visit the lands of the Oglala Lakota in the Black Hills of Western South Dakota, where we met with Mark Tilsen, cofounder of Tanka Bar. Tanka Bar, a company owned and operated by the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation, created the first commercial bison meat and fruit bar based on one of their sacred foods, called wasna. The mission of Tanka Bar is to restore the Pine Ridge landscape and economy by bringing back the buffalo.
Before the interview with Mark, I also share a bit more history of the time of the buffalo slaughter. I feel it’s useful to have some understanding of the creation of the wounds that Tanka Bar is working to help heal.
This episode of Muse Ecology is the first in this four part series beginning to explore humankind’s relation to the bison in the Great Plains of North America. This buffalo series features diverse voices of folks involved in the bison’s return that Alison and I met on our buffalo investigation journey in February 2018. While the next three episodes feature entrepreneurs (Tanka Bar) and ranchers (777 Bison Ranch and Wild Idea Buffalo Company) who are working to restore bison to the landscape, this first episode features voices of wildlife advocates who see the buffalo as a wild elder whose right to roam long precedes our recent human constructs.
The first visit on our buffalo journey was with the Buffalo Field Campaign, a volunteer-run organization that exists to defend the dignity and freedom of the last continuously wild herd of buffalo in North America, in Yellowstone National Park. Founded over 20 years ago by Lakota Grandmother Rosalie Littlethunder and videographer Mike Mease, through documentation and advocacy, the BFC seeks to promote awareness of the story and management of the Yellowstone bison, and to influence policy to allow them to roam free like the other wild ones.
At just over two and a half hours this episode ended up a bit long, but felt like one story to be released together, so I divided it up into chapters like an audio book or radio play, and created a table of contents with minute and second, to make it easy to restart if you have to take a break.
Episode 3 closes out Muse Ecology’s inaugural series recorded in December 2017, about ecosystem restoration and the work of John D. Liu. In this episode, John and I have a conversation on the way to the airport that weaves through many topics currently affecting our global situation, and we discuss how a large scale shift to focusing on ecosystem restoration addresses the roots of all of them.
John D. Liu is Ecosystem Ambassador for Commonland Foundation and Visiting Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also catalyzed the Ecosystem Restoration Camps movement. You can find his films and research papers at knaw.academia.edu/JohnDLiu
One of the topics we discuss is how water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon emissions, and how ecosystem destruction has disrupted the water cycle and led to increase of uncondensated (not formed into clouds) atmospheric water vapor. The source John was referring to for his greenhouse gas numbers can be found at the following link.
This is the fifth and final part of episode 2 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany with John D. Liu. In this part we hear two conversations about the important but historically ignored voices from indigenous nations, including their long history of oppression by globalizing civilization, the distinct worldviews inherent in the global economy and indigenous cultures, and the importance of bridging these differences and working together to protect and restore the Earth.
Continue reading “#2 Global Landscapes Forum V, Economy and Indigenous Sovereignty”
While largely unfamiliar to many, peatlands perform crucial funcions in Earth’s carbon and water cycles. For many centuries we have been draining peatlands to free up land for commodity agriculture, destroying these important living systems. We now are growing aware of the effects of draining peatlands, and some folks are exploring ways to preserve and restore these wet ecologies while still being able to produce and harvest biomass and other crops from these areas. This sort of peatland agriculture is called paludiculture.
In part 4 of this 5 part series at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, we will hear John D. Liu interview 3 individuals who are working to change agriculture, finance, and policy so that they work to restore, rather than drain peatlands.
In Part 3 of this episode at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany, we will hear conversations between John Liu and folks who are working to restore degraded forest lands around the world through research, international business, and volunteer initiatives.
In Part 2 of Episode 2, we hear some voices of folks who are working to bridge the world of global finance with the preservation and restoration of ecological function.
Episode 2 consists of some fascinating interviews conducted by John Liu at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn, Germany. I’ve arranged them into five parts according to the topics discussed.
This part focuses on Commonland Foundation, an organization that catalyzes regenerative projects around the word. We heard of Commonland in Episode 1 at the ecosystem restoration camp in Spain, and how it had played a crucial role in the context that facilitated that project.
Willem Ferwerda is the founder and CEO of Commonland Foundation. I found his words to be clear and insightful, as John Liu’s questions ranged from advice for youth seeking to enter the emerging regenerative economy to the relation between ecosystem health and social stability. Willem and the Commonland Foundation have done much to facilitate better relations between economy and ecology, and to restore ecosystem function in degraded landscapes.