The non-profit Vore Buffalo Jump Foundation board operates like a true non-profit. They have virtually no administrative costs.
Think of what that means. That many highly qualified people are contributing their talents. It’s a labor of love.
And sure enough, Jackie Wyatt tells me that 8 people living within 50 miles serve on the Foundation Board—all volunteering their time, talents, concerns and money.
Another 10 or 12 persons serve as an advisory board. These include educators, college professors and US Forest Service anthropologists, who also volunteer their services.
These people rise to the occasion when needed. Contribute their time, talents and cash to this amazingly difficult million-dollar project that suddenly dropped in their laps, only because of where they happen to live.
And when I reflect, it’s to realize this is what rural people do all the time. They get the job done. These people won’t fail in their mission. It is indeed a labor of love.
The Vore decision makers also have high standards, not to be compromised.
For example when they commissioned the construction of the tipi. They found the best talent and paid what was needed.
For the Northern Cheyenne women too, the tipi project was a labor of love. They called their assignment ‘A dream fulfilled.’ To have the rare privilege of constructing a tipi in the old way, the way it ‘should’ be done—a task their community had last completed in 1887 apparently was reward enough.
At Vore only the hired interpretive staff are paid—admission charged visitors during summer pays their salaries. The buildings and exhibits have been funded through grants and donations. The VBJF took out a loan in 2013 to put up the tipi and drill a well, which allowed them to put in restrooms.
I’m impressed and overwhelmed by their generosity and willingness to go the second mile.
In this day and age we are all too familiar with so-called “non-profits,” launched by well-meaning people, perhaps at the start. But who go on to give themselves impressive titles, paying big salaries to themselves and relatives, making sure that donations pass through their own greedy hands, till there’s almost nothing left for the cause they claim to fight for.
The Vore Jump Foundation is a polar opposite of that. It’s well worth our consideration. Dedicated people like Jackie Wyatt and Gene Gade put in many hours but do not expect or want payment for their talents and work.
For instance, Gene Gade who writes well-researched articles in the VBJT newsletter took the job as County Extension Agent in Sundance Wyoming many years ago.
He must have thought to himself from his County Agent vantage position, “‘I know how to do this; I need to help,’ and put in over 20 years as president of the non-profit VBJ Foundation.
From his great USDA Extension conections he helped to develop and guide the research, education and economic potentials of the Vore site for all those years.
Now in retirement he and his wife moved to Oregon to help a daughter with their grandchildren.
From there he still writes timely articles for the Vore Buffalo Jump Newsletter, continuing to research fresh information.
In Oregon he’s involved in working for Native American causes from a new vantage point from which he says, “The devastation of the Columbia River salmon has been as disastrous to Indigenous people of the northwest as the near extinction of bison was to the Plains tribes.”
And how much is he paid for all this? Don’t be ridiculous.
And there’s Jackie Wyatt. When the Foundation Board was required to build a railing for the trail down to the research sinkhole or be closed down, she made many phone calls and people donated what was needed. Jackie says even a 4th grade class that happened to be there on a field trip emptied their pockets and gave what they could when they heard. Isn’t that cool!
No one is getting wealthy from donations to Vore Buffalo Jump. All funds go into essentials to keep the place running, add improvements and to advance ongoing research at the site. Concerned people just donate more. That’s what is done in rural communities—it is needed and they don’t count the costs.