Photograph of Chief Yellow Shirt of the Hunkpapa Sioux/Axis Deer
To the readers who have visited our blog over the past year for updates on the massacre of the Fallow and Axis Deer of Point Reyes, CA.
, I am sorrowful to report that the last remnant of the Axis deer family will be destroyed during this week of Jan. 28th – Feb. 1st. They will be rounded up and driven into a hole by gunmen piloting helicopters who will then open fire into the hole.
I have been meditating tonight on what is about to happen to these deer, accustomed as they are to the seeming tranquility that hangs in the grey-green atmosphere of Point Reyes like a soft fog. The sense of peace here may be a shallow perception, for this is the ancestral home of the Coast Miwok people who were driven to the brink of extinction by the diseases and attitudes of conquest of the invading Europeans. The legacy of violence and shame, from Sir Francis Drake to the Spanish missions, is so great in this region of the world, you would think that Americans would bend over backward to avoid anything that looks like a power trip here.
When I think about what will happen to the quiet, speckled, cinnamon-colored Axis deer, I remember the Yahi people. The last remnant of this tribe was driven to hiding in a cave. When they were discovered, a couple of government officials opened fire into the cave, murdering every last man, woman, and child.
Their panic, their pain, their suffering were not recognized as legitimate by the invaders and government men who had other plans for the lands they had usurped.
“We Were Not Savages,”
says First Nations author Paul Daniel in his book which describes the near demise of the Mi’qmak people at the hands of the European conquerors who were masters of the art of the media spin, and completely without doubt regarding their right to deal out death to ‘dangerous savages’. As I have listened to the National Park Service’s public statements about the massacre of the local deer, I cannot help but wonder at how much people with too much power sound the same, no matter what century they are living in.
I have listened to Park officials say that the Fallow and Axis Deer destroy the environment by pawing the ground.
I have listened to those not paid by the Park say that all signs of this pawing disappear within a couple of months, and this is why no one can ever show the ‘damage’.
I have listened to Park officials say the Fallow and Axis deer are eating all of the vegetation in sight, leaving nothing left for the Black-tailed deer.
I have walked many of the 150 trail miles of the Point Reyes National seashore, and have seen the almost inconceivable abundance of vegetation – plenty for everyone to share.
I have listened to Park officials claim they are dedicated to returning the seashore to a Pre-Columbian paradise.
I have wondered when they will tear up their concrete roads, remove their toll booths and trucks, take away their power lines and leave. I am sure the Miwoks would be glad to have their land back.
I have listened to the Park’s head hired killer, Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo Inc. say that his unit of gunmen will kill all deer with one swift shot to the head and donate the carcasses to a homeless shelter.
My friends have found the corpses of gut shot deer on their lands, left to rot after the agonies of a long and painful death.
I have listened to the Park explain away these brutally killed deer as first not having anything to do with their killers, then blaming the deaths on poachers, then turning around and saying that yes, they are leaving some deer in the fields in order to feed vultures.
I was not aware of a federal program to feed vultures. But I do know when someone is not speaking the truth.
I have listened to the Park’s paid biologist say that these deer are scary and aggressive.
I have stood amongst these deer unharmed and in great wonder at their quiet and beauty. It has been a privilege to know them.
I have listened to my government say that they are here to serve the people.
The Humane Society of the United States, State Senator Carol Migden, Representative Lynn Woolsey, In Defense of Animals, the Wildcare foundation, Dr. Jane Goodall and the taxpayers of Marin County, California have all made it abundantly clear that we would like our government to serve us by caring humanely for these deer, not by massacring them.
The Final Insult
My husband and I are both very proud that some of our ancestors were what are called ‘Native Americans’. I want to register our extreme displeasure with the fact that the animal killers the NPS has hired to slaughter our local deer are doing business under the name White Buffalo, Inc. This is an honorable name with many different meanings to different peoples. There is a story about White Buffalo Woman, who honored the man who revered nature and was good in his heart, but turned the man who did not respect nature into a pile of ashes. White Buffalo Inc.’s president, Anthony DeNicola, has published a twisted and wrong version of this story on his company’s website. We are offended and feel sorry for him that he does not even see what the true story of White Buffalo Woman would say about a man like him who compares killing innocent deer to brushing his teeth.
We are tired of companies like this making fun of America’s earlier inhabitants, stealing words that mean something to us but are nothing but a clever selling tool to them. We are tired of the hypocrisy of government edicts that, in one century, call for the murder of Natives, and in another, say that non-Natives must be murdered. Why is killing all they know how to do?
The truth is that there are no natives. Some of us likely came from China, or Siberia, or Mongolia, or from someplace in South America so long ago that everyone has forgotten. Everywhere we have gone, we have brought along with us our plants and animals. This is the migratory movement that rules the world and has always ruled it. Shooting at this truth with guns cannot kill it. There is no going back in time.
When the killing of the Fallow and Axis deer began in the summer of 2007, the Park publicly stated that these shootings would be taking place over many years. It now appears to local people that this, too, was a falsehood. The killings have gone forward at an incredibly fast and sweeping pace and there are very few of the Fallow deer left. After this week, unless the NPS is ordered to halt, the Axis deer will be entirely gone.
We join with the people of West Marin in their abhorrence of this violence and their deeply felt mourning for the vanished deer.