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The Buffalo War - In Their Shoes

In 2001 PBS broadcast a documentary entitled The Buffalo War that documents an environmental conflict involving America's last wild bison herd. The conflict involves Native Americans, government officials and environmental activists disputing over the yearly killing of bison that stray from Yellowstone National Park in winter. At the time of the film, these bison were routinely rounded up and sent to slaughter by agents of Montana's Department of Livestock. The primary concern was that the migrating animals would transmit a disease known as brucellosis to cattle.

The film follows a group of Lakota Sioux Indians who engage in a 500-mile spiritual march across Montana to call attention to the problem and a group of environmentalists who use civil disobedience to try to prevent the bison roundup. Also featured are the ranchers who have property surrounding Yellowstone and who are directly impacted by the bison migration.

Of particular interest to conflict studies folks is the companion site produced by PBS that explains the issues in the film. They have created a section called In Their Shoes that takes you through the materials from the point of view of the three different primary parties. Nicely done.

The film is available from Bullfrog Films or can be watched in segments via YouTube.