The Wild for Life Foundation’s (WFLF) Navajo Horse Rescue and Recovery Mission (NHRRM) was founded in 2013 to provide lifesaving rescue and sanctuary services for victimized wild horses and burros facing life threatening circumstances including roundups, slaughter, and other forms of cruelty.
Shortly after launching this project we also started bringing international attention to how the USDA and US Forest Service threaten tribal leaders with the cancellation of grazing permits if they fail to remove wild horses from public lands.
With a brief look back to 2009, which was just a couple years after the closure of the last U.S. based horse slaughter plant; we see that surges of tribal forces began to shun their own four legged brothers and sisters, known as the horse – while parroting pro-slaughter lines.
One such example of this is documented by the (NCAI) National Congress of American Indians’ Resolution #REN-13-056, which opposes any and all anti-slaughter acts. The NCAI claims that “horses that are overgrazing and destroying the rangeland, valleys and hillsides”. In a nutshell, the NCAI publicly opposes any legislation restricting horse slaughter, and supports authorizing tribes to establish horse slaughter facilities within their jurisdiction.
However, these view points are not shared by all tribal people. Many tribal people care deeply about horses and burros and are opposed to slaughter and the roundups, including tribal leaders and spiritual leaders like Chief Arvol Looking Horse. “When I heard about the slaughter of America’s horses it reminded me of the genocide on Indian tribes,” says Paul Rainbird, Former Lt Governor San Idelfonso Pueblo New Mexico. “For us to turn around and slaughter horses is like cutting out our own heart.”
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe and spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nation speaks out, “My great grandfather was Chief Big Foot. He was massacred at Wounded Knee, 1890. I speak out today because my heart is heavy and hurting; that we still have to face the ongoing genocide, that what we hold so deeply in our heart.”
As news spreads about what’s happening, people are asking why tribes would go against their indigenous cultural beliefs and values to label the horse, a species many tribes consider sacred and as family; to instead label them as “feral” and sell them for their meat. For one thing as revealed in the international award winning film, “SAVING AMERICA’S HORSES A NATION BETRAYED”, Agriculture and Forestry have threatened tribes with a loss of livestock grazing permits if they fail to implement management policies.
In addition to benefits for grazing livestock, other government incentives offered to tribes include funding for the management of habitats. As illustrated by the USDA APHIS materials, tribes are taught to simply repeat agency propaganda sent to them such as, “Feral horses are eating all the vegetation on rolling hillsides, depriving livestock of forage and endangering plants,” – USDA APHIS.
It’s a modern day “Trail of Tears” for America’s horses and burros which are being zeroed out from their native lands whether for the sale of their meat, or to make room for foreign lands sales and leasing or for livestock grazing. But we as native people honor this relative and we stand together with the majority of the American public, who is without a doubt adamantly opposed to slaughtering them.
Wild horse removals on the Navajo Nation were reportedly halted in 2020. Roughly 3000 equines were reportedly removed in 2018. 1500 were reportedly removed in 2019, and the last number reported as removed in 2020 was 600.
However, we have received multiple reports from the Dine’ (Navajo people) that the Navajo government is back at it again, and they are taking privately owned horses as well.
We are seeing evidence of the same thing happening on other reservations too, including dozens of foals just recently discovered orphaned after their mothers were taken away and shipped to slaughter.
Although the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have full knowledge of the true heritage of America’s wild horses and burros, and the many ways that they complement the environment, the BLM and BIA continue to hide the truth and misinform the public and our lawmakers. By labeling them an invasive species, America’s indigenous wild horses and burros are denied the legal status and protection they deserve. As a result, they have been harassed, shot, rounded up, and hauled off to slaughter by the BLM and BIA.
WFLF is committed to meeting the challenge of sustaining this lifesaving project and to raising support for protection for all horses and burros from the torturous agony of roundups and slaughter through permanent federal bi-partisan legislation that forbids slaughter on American soil and forever bans the export of live horses to slaughterhouses in other countries, and that safeguards wild equines from extinction, exploitation, harassment, and killing through responsible, humane and nonlethal management practices on both tribal and public lands.
In addition to raising awareness, this project helps WFLF to provide safe harbor habitats and essential provisions for the continuum of quality care and protection of rescued wild and domestic horses and burros in need, including a number of rescue horses, burros and Navajo mustangs whose lives had become at risk due to roundups and slaughter.
We are working around the clock to carry out these objectives and your generous donations help pay for things like veterinary care, quality hay & feed, farrier, transport and a safe sanctuary where these animals will never be at risk again. Our all volunteer charity thanks you for making this lifesaving work possible.
Please join us by making a difference and share this update with your friends. Your support matters and can help save lives today, tomorrow and for generations to come.
The Wild for Life Foundation’s (WFLF) Navajo Horse Rescue and Recovery Mission (NHRRM) is a lifesaving program which provides rescue and sanctuary services for wild horses and burros that have been saved from roundups, slaughter, and other forms of cruelty.