Written by John Plestina
Montana artist Benji Daniels of Oswego stands with his 4,200-pound creation, “Herd Bull,” bronze buffalo head on a trailer in the parking lot at the Horseshoe Bar in Oswego Saturday, June 13. (Photo by John Plestina)
What might be the most eye-catching float in the upcoming Wolf Point Centennial/Stampede parade will be a flatbed semi trailer carrying the 4,200-pound “Herd Bull” sculpture of a buffalo skull. The local artist who created it said it is the largest buffalo head in the world.
Montana artist Benji “Oswego” Daniels of Oswego created the “Herd Bull” and financed the project himself.
“If you sandblast it, it would look like shiny gold. It’s bronze,” Daniels said.
Measuring 21 feet between the tips of the horns, 7 feet, 10 inches tall and 15 feet, 2 inches long the bronze sculpture has a gray patina that gives it an aged look.
Daniels said he hopes to have Native American dancers and drummers on the float.
Local trucker Kyle Hentges will drive the sculpture in the parade on a flatbed.
“We’ll have to have a boom truck to get it off of [the trailer it is currently on in Oswego] and onto [Hentges’] trailer, and back onto here at the end of Stampede,” Daniels said.
Made with 304 pieces that were cast at Billings Bronze and assembled, the “Herd Bull” was brought to Oswego on a semi trailer earlier this month. It has a temporary home in the parking lot of the Horseshoe Bar at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 2 and BIA Route 1.
The bison’s horns disassemble from the rest of the sculpture so the skull can be moved on a trailer.
The bronze piece is a replica. Daniels created the original “Herd Bull,” a welded steel sculpture, which has been on the lawn in front of the Montana Historical Society in Helena since 1995. He started working on that project in 1980 while working as a pipe welder at the Cenex refinery in Laurel, recycling scrap metal from the refinery for the original project that took a decade to complete.
Daniels has retained some rights to the original metal sculpture. He temporarily transported it to Billings in 2000 or 2001 and had a mold made.
“But I didn’t have the finances [to have the sculpture cast] until last year,” Daniels said.
The “Herd Bull” is for sale.
“Whoever buys it is where it’s going to end up,” Daniels said.
He plans to show the “Herd Bull” in Deadwood and Sturgis, S.D., during the annual motorcycle rally.
However, Daniels would like to sell the “Herd Bull” locally in northeast Montana if he can find a local buyer.
“I’d like it to be local because I’m local,” he said.
Daniels’ inspiration to create the original “Herd Bull” came from a fascination with buffalo skulls and his knowledge as a youth and young man that there was an abundance of bison skulls in the Missouri River in eastern Montana.
“I took scuba diving lessons so I could dive in the Missouri River,” Daniels said.
He took those lessons during the 1970s.
“There’s quite a concentration of buffalo skulls in there,” Daniels said.
He retrieved several.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology carbon dated one of the skulls for Daniels with a determination that it was over 10,000 years old.
With the sculpture arriving in Oswego in early June, Daniels contacted Wolf Point Centennial Committee chairman Duane Kurokawa about entering it in the parade.
“I told him I would be [in the parade with the sculpture]. He got excited,” Daniels said.
This year, the parade increases from two to three days as the Wild Horse Stampede includes the Centennial Celebration. Several floats are themed for the centennial and will be showcased, depicting decades in Wolf Point’s history and significant events before and after 1915. The flatbed with the “Herd Bull” and several other showcased entries will be paraded around Marvin Brookman Stadium during grand entries before each of the rodeo performances. Announcer Randy Schmutz will tell a little about each of the floats.
Written by Herald-News
“Super Heroes” was the theme of the Poplar Wild West Days parade Saturday, June 13. The parade is held along with a rodeo and a host of other family events. The first photo is Mylie Olson riding in the parade on Andy’s All-In-One float honoring teachers. (Photos by John Plestina)
Written by John Plestina
The Fort Peck Tribes Executive Board approved a resolution May 26 to restrict ownership of dogs classified as dangerous breeds, specifically pit bulls, wolf hybrids and rottweilers on the Fort Peck Reservation, but it only applies to enrolled tribal members.
Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada raised questions of jurisdiction.
“It applies in the city to members of the Fort Peck Tribes’ criminal jurisdiction,” Harada said.
“The tribes will argue the point,” city police animal control officer J.T. Szymanski said.
He said there has been a ban on pit bulls in tribal housing.
Fort Peck Tribal Health director Dennis Four Bear said the language “reservation wide” was included in the resolution to include the entire reservation, but the new law pertains only to enrolled tribal members living on the reservation.
“This does not apply to non-Natives on the reservation. The non-Natives fall under Montana state law. I believe this was said by Wolf Point City Police Chief Harada,” Four Bear said.
He said tribal court will have jurisdiction.
The new law allows for owners of dogs that were on the reservation prior to the passage of the law to keep the animals only if they obtain a special license within 60 days of the law taking effect. Mandatory restrictions will include that owners obtain and maintain $100,000 liability insurance on the dog, the dog be spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, owners must be age 21 or older, the dogs must be kept indoors or in a secure pen and warning signs must be placed on the property. Dogs must be transported in kennels and wearing muzzles when walked on leashes. Sales or gifting of the dogs outside the owner’s immediate family are prohibited.
The language in the resolution includes that it is unlawful for anyone to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, harbor, transport or sell any pit bull or other restricted breed within the reservation and further defines restricted breeds to include rottweilers, wolf hybrids and any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of those breeds.
Fort Peck Tribal Health and Fort Peck Housing Authority each have two animal control officers. They work for separate tribal entities and are not attached to the Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice.
If city animal control picks up a dog owned by a tribal member, the owner must pay the city to get their dog returned but they can only be cited into tribal court.
The city has a contract with the tribes to house dogs picked up by tribal animal control. The tribes do not have an animal shelter.
Four Bear said owners of breeds addressed by the new law have 60 days to contact tribal health and register their dogs.
Breed-specific laws are controversial but exist in many places. Laws are in place that restrict or prohibit pit bull ownership in 12 states [not including Montana or any neighboring states] and many local jurisdictions in the United States and several foreign countries. Appellate courts in 12 states and the District of Columbia have upheld the constitutionality of breed-specific pit bull laws. In Montana, Baker, Libby and Lincoln County prohibit pit bull ownership. Wolf hybrid ownership is also illegal in Baker and Lincoln County. White Sulphur Springs requires mandatory insurance to keep pit bulls, rottweilers and Doberman pinschers.
Written by John Plestina
Mayor Chris Dschaak told the Wolf Point City Council Monday, June 15, that he will refer a request by the artist who created the bronze monument of a horse and rider in the triangle in downtown Wolf Point for city support to protect the sculpture to the council’s Parks, Recreation, Cemetery and Tree Committee.
Floyd Tennyson “Tenny” DeWitt of Bozeman recently told The Herald-News he is hoping more will be done to protect and promote his sculpture of a rider who has taken off his hat off as a reverent gesture to all who shaped the community Wolf Point became.
The bronze cast monument has stood 39 years near the point of the triangle between Anaconda and Main streets near the Wolf Point Café.
DeWitt, who was born and raised in Wolf Point and was a Wolf Point police officer in his youth, is now 81. He said in May that he is concerned that the statue is neither high enough off the ground for proper visibility, nor behind a low barrier to protect it from being struck by vehicles. He said the red brick foundation neither enhances nor provides adequate protection.
DeWitt also said there should not be two plaques and one has the title of the sculpture incorrect.
“He does not believe that in its current location on the pedestal that it is safe,” Dschaak told the council.
“He [DeWitt] is saying it would be at no cost to us,” he said.
City clerk/treasurer Marlene Mahlum said she approached the council eight years ago about removing railroad ties that surrounded the sculpture. Mahlum obtained a quote for the brick covering and the city paid for it.
She said at the time she did not know that the artist or the people that contributed to funding it during the 1970s were still alive. She had a plaque made.
“I put the plaque on the statue. The statue had been there since 1976 and people were coming out of the woodwork,” Mahlum said.
She said DeWitt contacted her and that he was not pleased with an article she wrote that was on the city’s website. Mahlum said DeWitt asked for a different plaque, which she agreed to but she would not remove the original plaque.
DeWitt told The Herald-News the correct title is Homage to the Pioneer, not Homage.
“I thought I was doing a good deed,” Mahlum said.
The city has the monument insured, but questions were raised about whether the amount of coverage is adequate for its current value.
“I would be more concerned about having liability insurance on it,” councilman Rollie Paulson said.
DeWitt said his inspiration to create the sculpture came in 1973, when Dr. Robert Dana Knapp, “Bess” and Bob Hovey and several others asked him to create something for Wolf Point. The Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture was involved with the project that was funded by private contributions. Three years later, the monument was placed at its current site.
Written by John Plestina
Sheriff Jason Frederick confirmed that one of two people arrested near Bainville Monday, June 15, is the sister of Congressman Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Dhara L. Zinke, 23, of Kalispell, on misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child, first offense.
“Not a young child, a teenager, but they’re considered a child [by legal definition],” Frederick said.
“We have an ongoing drug investigation, not with her, but with someone else in the vehicle,” he said.
Zinke was traveling with Nicodemus A. Kupka, 19, of Watford City, N.D. He is charged with criminal possession of dangerous drugs, which Frederick said was methamphetamine. Kupka is also held on a bench warrant out of Flathead County Justice Court.
Deputies stopped the vehicle carrying Kupka and Zinke and two juveniles about midnight near the Gold Dust Casino on U.S. Hwy. 2, about a mile from the North Dakota state line.
Zinke and Kupka remained lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail on Tuesday, held on $1,170 and $25,000 bond respectively.