On Wednesday, June 6th 2018, during a perfect summer evening filled with warm air, a light breeze and an open pink sky, CANA Foundation hosted a meet and greet cocktail party at their Rewilding Space in Long Island, NY. Unlike most Foundation headquarters, CANA’s Rewilding Space is home to their twelve horses and is where thought provoking, inspiring symposiums, lectures and events are held to benefit CANA, spread the message of rewilding and welcome others into the movement.
Cocktails and farm to table h’dourves were served amongst the serene setting of the Rewilding Space, where guests had the opportunity to mix and mingle with the horses here on the property. All of our horses have a story, but one horse in particular had a message for this group. “Hugo” is the newest arrival; a Nokota Relative who arrived from North Dakota from the Nokota Horse Conservancy only just a few weeks ago and has just only begun to fulfill his mission.
ABOUT THE NOKOTA HORSES
The Nokota horses are descended from the last surviving population of wild horses in North Dakota and are relatives of the horses who carried Sitting Bull and were confiscated from him when he arrived to surrender on the Standing Rock Reservation in 1881.
CANA Crew Member, Moses Brings Plenty is Lakota born from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He is a direct descendant of Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota who defended the Lakota Way of Life in the Battle of Little Big Horn alongside Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and other revered leaders of their time. As he stood with Hugo; a descendant of the horses who carried Moses’ relatives, they addressed the crowd.
“For me it is always an emotional thing to be with these Nokotas. This is our missing link for us as Lakota people, as Indian people. The horses have always been here. Yes, the Spanish brought their horses but we have always had horses here. We have a word in our Lakota language, ‘Shunka Wakan’- because they are very sacred beings. They are the bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds,” stated Moses.
Nokotas are increasingly recognized for their remarkable characteristics. They are different from other breeds, noted for their ability to think their way through challenges and for their deep desire to connect with their humans.
“Before the people had gained a relationship with the horses, they could not get close enough to the buffalo. Still to this day, it is proven that we as humans will not be accepted to walk amongst a herd of buffalo. But they saw that the horses grazed alongside the buffalo. So the people asked for help…and the horses took it upon themselves to help their relatives. We had bond with them that wasn’t about ownership- it was about brotherhood and sisterhood,” says Moses about our wild horses.
But this band of Nokota horses, like many wild horse herds, were targeted for roundup and removal from their lawful homes; this time from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park from 1950-1970. If not for the preservation efforts of Frank and Leo Kunz, this important bloodline and lineage of horses would have been lost forever. These messages helped guests to understand the link between America’s land, the animals that inhabit it and ourselves. In fact, the roundups of our wild horses and confinement in holding pens is a direct comparison to the roundups of our Indian people; taken from their lands and placed on reservations.
And yet, we have not learned. To this day, what is happening to our wild horse nation, is happening to us. Our humanity is dwindling, we have lost touch with our natural environment and indigenous understandings and thus, have stood by idly as we allow our public lands to be overburdened and exploited by special interest groups; particularly large scale agribusiness, oil fracking and drilling. That is why it is imperative to preserve free roaming herds of wild horses in order to occupy federal lands so that they are sustainably managed and remain accessible to future generations of all who call this Country home.
“What is freedom? When I look at this horse and I know where he descended from, to have the ability to live as creator intended; to me- that is freedom. To maintain freedom, first, we must understand it,” said Moses.
If our horses are wild and free then we to; our spirits and our American rights and values, will also remain wild and free. By protecting our indigenous species, conserving our land and natural sources and reconnecting to our cultural heritage and traditions, we can restore balance to our environment and our selves. This is the essence of rewilding and our mission here at CANA. We are a piece of a greater movement to responsibly support harmony between humans, plants, and animals and encourage a beneficial and thriving ecosystem for today and tomorrow.
Join the movement. #RewildOurWorld!
CANA Foundation is a 501 (c)3 New York-based rewilding organization that advocates for wild horses as essential to ecological and spiritual balance. CANA’s re-wilding initiatives foster community empowerment, land conservation and the sustainable management and preservation of America’s wild horse populations. To learn more visit www.canafoundation.org