At a recent public hearing in Lander to decide whether to allow grizzly bear hunting, the Northern Arapaho elder society released a statement calling such hunting an act of genocide against the species. Elders Crawford White Sr. and Nelson White Sr. stated that, as a sovereign nation, they should have been consulted in the decision as required by law.
Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Councilman Sergio Maldonado is the former tribal liaison to Governor Mead and he presented the statement on behalf of the elders at the hearing. He said his elders say that instead of hunting bears to control their population in Yellowstone, they should be moved to reservations like Wind River. He said, sure, that could impact farmers and ranchers on the reservation.
“Should those bears come down and take out cattle, well, the law of the land is, you know, the owners of the cattle kill the bears. But they have no problem with the grizzlies coming onto our reservation because at least we know they’re protected.”
Maldonado said the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council requested the statement as a show of respect for the Northern Arapaho’s unique elder society.
“The other tribes recognize our old men, the elder society as extremely legitimate, as foundationally spiritual in that old way.”
Maldonado said the Northern Arapaho are one of only a handful of tribes to be officially governed by its elders this way. But he said their statement didn’t change the vote on grizzly hunting.
“It’s already written in the stars as to what they were going to do,” he said. “This was nothing more than a political and duplicitous public hearing.”
Maldonado said, the elders feel trophy hunting is unethical and sacrilegious. He says they’ve requested he also submit their statement to Governor Mead as well.