National Mammal Named: The Bison Unifies America When We Need It Most

Yesterday, America's House of Representatives, along with the Senate, passed legislation that named America's first-ever national mammal - the North American bison. And the naming couldn't have come at a better time, as it is bringing American politics together when America needs it most.

National Mammal Named: Bison Buffalo Unifies America
A rare wild bison. [Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images]The 2016 election is a very polarizing one, reports Fordham Political Review, with extremist candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump widening the divide between liberals and conservatives while even slightly middling politicians struggle to capture the public eye.
The Pew Research Center revealed in a recent BBC report that Americans have become more politically divided since the last national election, and the 2016 presidential candidates are now making efforts to appeal to those more extreme viewpoints.

"The two sides of this presidential election can't even agree on what's wrong with the country, let alone the best way to fix it," a representative from PRC says in a video accompanying the report.

"It's as if they belong not to rival parties but Alien tribes."
Because of the staunchly divided political landscape, it was a nice breath of fresh air when the new national mammal was named.

Yes, it was a long time coming - the North American Bison has been an animal strongly connotative of American history for some time now, but that association was never made official until now.

But it also served as a way to remind America that it is one nation. Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, all United States citizens are Americans and share a rich heritage tied together by certain national symbols.

The national mammal being named gave warring politicos a chance to set aside their differences and agree on something, no matter what party they are from.

"No other indigenous species tells America's story better than this noble creature," said a Democratic United States Representative from Missouri named Lacy Clay.
"The American bison is an enduring symbol of strength, native American culture and the boundless Western wildness. It is an integral part of the still largely untold story of Native Americans and their historic contributions to our national identity."
John Hoeven, a Republican Senator from North Dakota, mirrored Clay's statement by comparing the nobility and historical significance of the new national mammal to the United States of America's already-existing national bird.

"The bison, like the bald eagle, has for many years been a symbol of America for its strength, endurance and dignity, reflecting the pioneer spirit of our country," Hoeven asserted.

North American bison were indeed an essential part of pioneer life. At one point, in fact, the hulking mammals were hunted almost to extinction - the Smithsonian Institution Archives point out that their national population dropped to just above 1,000 at the turn of the 20th century.

Although the new national mammal's numbers are up now, it is still rare to see them. Nonetheless, reports the site of the Intertribal Buffalo Council, the animal contributes millions of dollars to American agriculture each year.

The organization's executive director, Jim Stone, was delighted that the North American Bison (or buffalo, as he calls it) is finally getting the national recognition he thinks it deserves.

"The recognition of the buffalo as the national mammal shows the cross-cultural stature of this iconic animal and for tribes will allow us to expand our work on reintroducing buffalo into our day to day lives."

National Mammal Named: Bison Buffalo Unifies America
Bison: man's best friend? [Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images]Hoeven also said that Washington will not let the national mammal naming go by without commemorating it somehow, and his state wants to help put on some kind of show for the historic landmark.
"We're passing the national bison legacy act this week, but what we want to do in the future is bring a live bison, maybe Corso from North Dakota, to Washington, DC and have an official induction ceremony. We think it would be a lot of fun and gather a lot of national attention."
And again, a lighthearted national event that the entire country, regardless of political affiliation, can focus on together may be just what America needs at the moment.

[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]