How Did I Miss That? Sho-Ban’s Ceremonial Bison Hunt, Yak Meat, and Snake Bites Dog

The Shoshone and Bannock Tribes conducted their tenth annual ceremonial bison hunt at the National Elk Refuge. And border security confiscated 70 pounds of Yak meat in New York.

Sho-Ban News reported that the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes conducted their tenth annual ceremonial buffalo hunt at the National Elk Refuge. Five experienced hunters were selected to represent the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes and, within the tribes, veterans, elders and youth.

The honored hunters this year were Jack Dixey, Rick Yellowhair, Bruce Baldwin Jr., TeeJay Appenay and Theodore Means. All the hunters who were interviewed stressed the goal of a clean and quick kill with no suffering for the animal.

The Shoshone-Bannock people are allowed five buffalo a year from the National Elk Refuge. They also keep their own herd on the Fort Hall Reservation and have a treaty right to hunt buffalo in Montana near West Yellowstone and Gardiner.

Carlino Broncho, the elder who offered the prayers, told the News, “We come from buffalo people – we use that buffalo in a sacred way. . .”

After the kills, the families of the hunters and volunteers from the community pitched in to help with skinning and gutting and preparing the meat for travel back to the reservation.


The Shoshones and Bannocks are working to keep their cultures alive. In Oregon, Willamette Week reported that some white people calling themselves the “Flamingo Clan” are also taking the role of cultural preservationists. They do not purport to be preserving their own culture but rather one that must be taken first.

The Flamingo Clan has carved a totem pole with their story on it to be raised once a year at the Oregon Country Fair. The Northwestern U.S. is home to the cultural practices the Flamingo Clan was mimicking or mocking, and the local Indians objected.

The Fair Board of Directors voted 8-2 to allow the faux pole over Native objections, subject to adding a display inviting feedback on the question, “Culturally Inspired Art or Cultural Appropriation?”

After Willamette Week published a story on April 25 treating both sides of the argument in some depth, the Board revisited the question and voted unanimously to apologize “for the distress our actions regarding the story pole have caused to those Native Peoples and members of our family who have been affected by this process.”

The prevailing argument was well spoken by a cultural anthropologist, David Lewis:

"The product they are creating is not a Haida totem pole, it’s a representation of white privilege to assume they can use any tribal name, and define any tribal culture in any way. The pole does not have the depth of spiritual meaning, represent the work of the Haida people, or have the benefit of Haida cultural techniques. The tribes of western Oregon, in particular the Kalapuya people are a part of the community.

"The Kalapuya are artists and have their own artistic and intellectual traditions. They have lived here for more than 10,000 years. It seems very odd with all of the work that has occurred in the Eugene area to bring accurate Kalapuya representations to the community that the project proponents did not choose to reach out to the Kalapuya to request a traditional product.”

Did I mention this cultural anthropologist is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde?

My cousin Ray Sixkiller was relieved when the controversy ended, because, “I was really sweating how we could prove that one of the lost Cherokee clans was not “Flamingo.”


We now turn to a cultural practice more legitimately identified with the settlers. The Daily Tarheel reported that more than 40 faculty in the history department at the University of North Carolina have signed a letter publicly criticizing the administration for cancelling Prof. Jay Smith’s History 383, “Big-Time College Sports and the Rights of Athletes, 1956 to the present.” UNC is the site of both big-time college sports and one of the most outrageous scandals in a history rife with scandal. Wikipedia has published an outline of the ongoing academic fraud investigation.

The University of North Carolina offers a first-rate education but it’s not clear that scholarship athletes have had a fair shot at a sheepskin. Or that UNC is any worse than similar schools. It’s a corrupt system and attacking academic freedom makes it worse, not better.

“Don’t hold back,” my Cousin Ray urged. “Tell us what you really think, Professor Russell!”


BBC reported that British inventor Richard Browning flew a real Iron Man suit at the 2017 TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Conference in Vancouver. The flight suit uses six miniature jet engines attached to an exoskeleton.

A heads-up display attached to the wearer’s helmet is necessary to keep careful track of fuel use, since the suit is capable of several thousand feet of altitude and speeds more than 200 mph but carries only about ten minutes’ worth of fuel, depending on altitude and speed. Browning told the BBC that the invention he calls the “Daedalus Suit” after the father of Icarus is “safer than a motorbike.”

“Safer than a motorbike?” Cousin Ray was skeptical. “He does know what happened to Icarus, right?”


On The View, Whoopi Goldberg suggested that President Trump could pay for his wall by selling advertising on both sides, 900 miles in English and Spanish with ads for Trump Steaks, bail bonds, and immigration lawyers.

“More likely,” Cousin Ray snickered, “ladders and tunneling equipment.”


Proving that the U.S. has borders in addition to the one with Mexico, NBC reported that Customs agents at JFK Airport in New York seized almost 300 pounds of yak meat hidden in a shipment of clothing from Nepal. Yak meat is not illegal in the U.S. but importing it from Nepal and other countries that have not controlled hoof and mouth disease is.

A look on line showed there’s a lot more demand for yak meat than there is supply. Yak meat, like bison meat, is said to offer less fat and more protein and taste better than cow meat. Sounds like bison meat to me. As one of the U.S. yak farmers said, it’s not gnu.


Earlier this year, the same Customs office seized a box of beef patties….that contained $70,000 worth of cocaine.

Cousin Ray suggested that the first rule of being a Customs agent must be just like shopping on the rez, “Never believe the label.”


The Washington Post reported some of the burn lines from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, on which The Donald Trump was taking revenge for prior roastings by refusing to attend. Without the POTUS, most of the A-list celebrities had better things to do. The festivities were substantially scaled back, and probably will remain so because Trump never forgets an insult, even if it’s offered in jest.

Master of Ceremonies Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show explained:

I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one wanted to do this. So of course it lands in the hands of an immigrant.

After observing that every day Trump spends golfing is a day we’re not at war with North Korea and that “the leader of our country” could not attend because of the length of the commute from Moscow, Minhaj accounted for the Attorney General:

Jeff Sessions couldn’t be here tonight, he was busy doing a pre-Civil War reenactment. On his RSVP, he just wrote “NO.” Just “no,” which happens to be his second favorite n-word.

When Minhaj turned his fire to the left, he called out MSNBC for something that always bugged me:

On the one hand, you tell us the prison industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of Lockup. You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison.


In Florence, Texas, less than 20 miles from my home, a dog named Pickles suffered a snake bite, and that led to learning some scary stuff in KXAN’s report of the incident. My dogs get shots for rattlesnake bite—just in case. Our vet sees rattlesnake bites in double digits every year, and all the other venomous snakes in North America are found here.

Three of the four—rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths--are pit vipers. They inject venom when they bite. The other is the coral snake, which has to chew on its victim for a while. Pickles stuck her head between a log and a shed and, when she backed out, the snake was attached to her lip.

“Red on yellow kill a fellow; red on black, venom lack.” That silly little rhyme could save your life. It could also save the life of a king snake, which not only is harmless to people but will kill venomous snakes.

Pickles’ owner knocked the snake off her lip and killed it. Remembering the kids’ rhyme, she identified the snake and called her vet. When she arrived at the vet’s office, she learned the vet had been calling around and there was no coral snake antivenin within 200 miles.

Desperate, they started calling human hospitals. At University Medical Center in Austin, they had three vials, but they were expired. A technician from Austin rushed the antivenin to the vet. Pickles lived, but the scary stuff I learned has to do with humans.

North American Coral Snake Antivenin (NACSA) is the only medicine approved by the FDA for humans. Pfizer quit making NACSA a long time ago because of cost. The vial that saved Pickles will set her owner back $5,000.

It was expired because University Medical Center was waiting for an extension of the FDA’s expiration date, something that has happened every year for the last nine years.

What’s scary is there is nothing to treat coral snake bite in humans except expired antivenin. And if it can be found, it’s $5,000 a vial.


Nunatsiaq News reported the result of a criminal prosecution based on an observation by an Indigenous and Northern Affairs water resource officer back in July of 2013. The un-named officer noticed “red-coloured water and sediment” streaming from a gold mine operated by Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. Agnico was prosecuted for failure to report the spill.

Agnico is a transnational corporation listed on both the New York and Toronto stock exchanges, operating mines in Canada, Mexico, and Finland. Agnico argued that since Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada employed the water resource officer and was part of the government, it did not make sense to require the company to report the spill to another part of the government.

That defense did not fly because the officer who reported the spill had no authority to enforce the law being violated, the Fisheries Act. Crown prosecutor Sarah Bailey said the government was willing to settle for a small fine because no permanent damage was done and Agnico swung into action to contain the spill immediately upon learning of the leak. The company has created training materials explaining the duty to report. Most important, the prosecutor noted this was a first offense.

The judge had just approved the plea bargain for a $50,000 fine when news broke of another spill at a different Agnico Eagle mine. Approximately 30,000 liters of fuel leaked out of a storage tank with a defective safety valve.

Cousin Ray was laughing, he said, “to keep from crying.”