Nijhuis, Return of Natives - High Country News - Printable...

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High Country News -- Printable -- February 26, 2001: Return of the natives 1 of 9 2/26/2008 3:12 PM To receive two free issues of High Country News call 1-800-905-1155, or visit: Return of the natives feature article - February 26, 2001 by Michelle Nijhuis The Nez Perce tribe brings wolves back to the Idaho wilderness -- and reinvents its political future LEWISTON, Idaho - When Horace Axtell was a boy in the 1920s and '30s, his grandmother would take him on fishing and berry-gathering trips in the Idaho mountains. Like most Nez Perce, they would often work in the forest for two or three weeks at a time. It was on one of those long trips that he heard a wolf howl. "My grandmother was hard of hearing, but she heard it, too," he says. "She explained to me what kind of animal that was, how much it meant to our people in the past and the importance of its being alive." Years later, he took a hunting trip with a friend to the Selway River in central Idaho. "My friend said, 'Hey, look at that big dog!' " he remembers with a chuckle. "I said, 'No, I'm sure that's a wolf.' And it was. I got to see one, with my own eyes." He didn't see another wolf for decades, as ranchers and federal hunters nearly exterminated the gray wolf in the West. In 1974, the wolf landed on the federal endangered species list. Axtell, 76, lives with his wife in a small house on the edge of this placid timber town, 15 miles from the Nez Perce Reservation where he grew up. He's been a soldier, a convict, and an edgerman at the local Potlatch mill. He's now an elder of his tribe, a leader of the traditional Seven Drum religion, a teacher, and an author. He's also an expert swing dancer. And he has lived to see his tribe bring wolves back to Idaho. In 1995, after the state Legislature barred the Idaho Fish and Game Department from cooperating with the federal wolf recovery program, the Nez Perce went to the federal government and volunteered to take the place of the state. The program has since become one of the most successful wildlife recovery efforts ever. The wolves are multiplying with gusto - almost 200 are roaming free in the state - and the population may soon reach the goals set by the feds. Thanks to the state legislators' stubbornness, the Nez Perce are the first and only tribe to oversee the statewide recovery of an endangered species. The tribal wildlife department works side-by-side with the federal government, tracking wolves in the vast wilderness lands that once belonged to the tribe.
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High Country News -- Printable -- February 26, 2001: Return of the natives 2 of 9 2/26/2008 3:12 PM It's a deliciously ironic opportunity, and the tribe is making the most of it. The wolf program is now just one of many Nez Perce projects on and off the reservation, all aimed at strengthening tribal sovereignty and recovering
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2010 for the course PS 225 taught by Professor Pahre,r during the Fall '08 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

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Nijhuis, Return of Natives - High Country News - Printable...

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