The recreational torture and slaughter of wolves has been going on for some time in Wisconsin (hounding is legal there) and began again yesterday in Minnesota. I’m hurting as are many of my friends and family.
Two years ago elected representatives, when asked what it would take to stop this in MN said: `Make our phones ring’.
Very few people were willing to make that call, considering it pointless. They shared tales of 500 years of hatred, government corruption, and the DNR having been bought by lobbyists- and they are quite right. As disclosed in an internal DNR email, the agency is honoring the wishes of the `Ag producers’ and the `hunting and trapping’ organizations. Despite the letter and spirt of the treaties.
Though wolf predation on livestock is very low, and that many individual farmers and ranchers are willing to implement non-lethal wolf depredation control, the Ag lobbies, and the sport hunting lobbies hate the wolf. Industry lobbyists are very detached from the workings of nature, but are accustomed to having their sense of entitlement to `own’ everything subsidized by the rest of us. They wanted to torture wolves, so wolves are being tortured.
As of yesterday, the third modern wolf torture and slaughter season began in Minnesota despite the economic and ecological irrationality of such conduct. Despite the treaties, despite the wishes of the majority of MN citizens, despite the gratuitous cruelty, wolves are rapidly being reduced to the `relic’ populations that brought them to the brink of extinction prior to placement on the Endangered Species Act.
What has changed in 520 years?
`White’ settlers still feel totally entitled to act out their `manifest destiny’ values and beliefs, and the legislature – both the Democrats and Republicans have encouraged this in every aspect of environmental policy – despite the treaties.
Much as our L.E.O.’s, policy makers and `community leaders’ have let it be known that Northern Minnesota is a place that privileged people can come buy Indigenous youth to act out their sense of entitlement to sexual domination and control of the people they fear, they have also not just endorsed, but forced all of us, especially the wolf, to subsidize what will be a celebration of the infliction of more horrible suffering for `fun’, a shot of psychological viagra for those who feel dominion over anyone without lobbyists is their god given right and that the only thing needed to make an act `moral’ is the power to engage in it free from the kind of scrutiny we would apply were they to choose less marginalized targets, more assimilated ones.
What if, instead of buying a drug or alcohol addicted 14 year old Anishinaabeg girl who was forced through homelessness to engage in survival sex, your next door neighbor, that nice accountant, had bought a white girl who lived in a warm home with parents who had the privilege to ensure she attended a good school, well fed every morning and got straight A’s? Would it be a private matter then? A `choice’ the girl had made? Or would the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI cease to be a hub for the trafficking of those who do not consent? Or who are coerced via desperation into survival sex? Would this organized rape for profit then be handled differently? Those most assimilated seem to have a value in the system of colonial privilege that those less so do not. What, exactly, is the morally relevant difference?
Ma’iingan, as the Ojibwe call the wolf, is the spiritual brother of the people and their fates are entwined. As Jim Northrup said in a speech I was honored to hear last December, sponsored by the UW-Superior First Nations Center, the Indian wars are not over. They never ended, wolves are being trapped, snared and gut shot today, in the ceded territory of Northern Minnesota.
You should be outraged over the wolf hunt if you are a person of conscience who feels guilty because our ancestors did not honor treaties, why are they not honored NOW? Did the state of Minnesota, the DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Governor Mark Dayton specifically, uphold their duty to due diligence in consulting with the bands over the recreational killing of a most significant `resource’ (that is NOT a `rough translation’ in the way that `brother’ is, by the way)? Are they doing any better in upholding the letter and spirit of the treaties with regards to water? Manoomin? The children?
Today’s Indian wars take place on multiple fronts. The beating of a multiply disabled Anishinaabeg elder while not only in custody, but handcuffed to a wheelchair at the time, racial epithets used as mascots still in MN schools, looking the other way when brown girls and boys are sold in and around the harbor and elsewhere for the last 100 plus years (since the boats showed up this trafficking has gone on), ensuring all the funding to fight this remains in privileged white hands, a plan to add sulfide mining to the industrial mix that already resulted in a `dead zone’ in the St. Louis River, where manoomin no longer grows, and created a Superfund site at Spirit Island.
And inviting privileged dominionists to come right into the heart of Ojibwe country to torture and kill the brother of the people. For `fun’. This is a bold symbol of the renewal of the NDN wars in ernest, and they intend to take the water too. All of the water.
Commodifying and befouling the sacred, the birthright of the next seven generations, for very short term gain for a very few.
This is why the wolf hunt makes us hurt so much. It’s not just the science or the economics. The folly of the wolf hunt, on those grounds, hurts the head.
It’s the cruelty. The cruelty to the wolf to be sure, is more than enough to bear. Anyone who kills for fun or trophy is, by definition a sadist. The brag pages are full of credible stories and photos of extended torture of wolves taken alive in traps and snares, which are the majority, and of gut shooting others. The state is complicit in conduct that would land most of us in jail if we inflicted it on a domesticated (assimilated) canid. Many municipalities would rightly court order a psych evaluation as animal cruelty is a reliable red flag indicator for dangerousness to people. The wolf hunt blatantly violates the MN anti-cruelty statute. (Why is the state telling us that sadism is acceptable, if you pick a target that some privileged people despise)?
But, what really makes some of us so very sick is the cruelty to the People. The wolf hunt evokes the agonizing pain of the heart and spirit in me because it’s another modern manifestation of boarding school mentality. It is supposed to hurt, it is supposed to demoralize and traumatize, and it does. In time, trauma after some grieving, turns to anger and it is this anger which we must channel into resistance, once we return to being grounded again in and tempered by our great love for this place and all those she sustains here, two and four legged, furred, finned and feathered.
Trauma is another `white elephant’ and it’s time to talk about it. We can’t heal while hiding from the ugliest realities. We need to face them, grieve and build something that works for our children and grandchildren. The wolf hunt is one more way that the dominant culture traumatizes the ones they are so afraid of. Those less assimilated.
The wolf hunt is about assimilation, it carries an explicit and an implied threat. It is about culture. It is about emotion, the emotion of hatred- the hatred and fear that one cultural paradigm regards another with. We react to it at that level, because deep inside we feel, our hearts and spirits (and if we’re honest with ourselves our heads as well) know that this is still part of the NDN wars that never ended, just shifts is masks to whatever we will tolerate. We feel it will be worse if we tolerate this.
As such, it is not possible, as we have seen, to resist it merely on the sanitized terms that the dominionists insist on. We need to use OUR language for this. We need to confront the white elephant, what other role can we model for the youth at this time?
That said- you have two choices. You can `Stand for wolves’ on FB and occasionally on a street corner, or send more money to HFW, OR you can work to STOP THE HUNT.
There are two places that an end to this hunt can be quickly achieved- in the courts or the legislature.
HFW is the only group I know of in MN who has the privilege to access the courts and that has not turned out well so far, but I’ll hold my critique on that for a stand alone post.
So, we need to focus on the legislature for the foreseeable future. As for their legislative work, READ the bill HFW tried to pass last year. Not the headlines, which declare it a victory for wolves and tribal people, read the bill- which makes clear that it is no victory for either, but a way to effectively create a role for a `wolf czar’ in Minnesota, a place from which fundraising and political maneuvering and favor trading can continue in perpetuity, and invites the Ag industry to take a greater role in policy- not stopping the hunt and only weakly `suspending’ it while the wolf czar hob nobs and negotiates how many wolves will be killed and where each year (after year, after year).
This plan would shut the grassroots out on wolf policy, and competing with a wanna be wolf czars budget to silence Northern Minnesotans and insert [her]self as the decider for all of us and our grandkids would be a disaster for both wolves and our grandkids. Lots of photo ops, donations and other cookies for the czar on the backs of dead wolves. Uh, no thanks.
Let us not allow privilege to decide this. It boggles my mind to think of what work could have been done with the cash raised in just one year (some $750,000) and with the volunteers (some 350) that were at the hands of the privileged group who wanted us to shut up about all this `stop the hunt’ stuff.
Grassroots is the missing element. The well funded organizations have in my judgement sold out the wolf and used the issue to fund raise and build political relationships at the wolf’s expense, exactly as happened with the awareness that came out of Chris Stark’s work on the trafficking of mostly Anishinaabeg youth here. Exactly as has happened with some groups and the water, environmental groups are trying to save a tiny bit, `their’ water from sulfide mining.
While paid organizers might effect good policy, GREAT organizers, the ones working for the people, do their best to put themselves out of one job, knowing they are then free to move on to the next person in need or lake to be protected. Issue leaders do not try to create permanent employment for themselves.
BE a GREAT organizer! MAKE THOSE PHONES RING!
Type up a list of legislators in your area and send it to your friends, pick 5 to follow up with and support them in calling. STOP the hunt now. Don’t suspend it and don’t `stand for wolves’.
FIGHT for them before it’s too late.
Call and email all of your elected representatives. Send copies to the reporters in your area. Send me copies!