One evening last week, I was just surfing through the channels on TV and on my favourite PBS station there was a program in progress concerning a Yak rancher in, of all places, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Willis Larson, the rancher, has been herding yaks. The programme was episode 201 of America’s Heartland series.
Many years back I remember reading an article by Jamyang Norbu la titled “A Yak on Madison Avenue.” If I remember it correctly it was about one of the early tour of the United States by artistes of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, which he had accompanied.
While the visit of TIPA’s yaks to the West is a familiar happening now, seeing real yaks being raised in the West is still peculiar. My first sighting of yaks in the West must be the one in Switzerland where a Buddhist Centre had two yaks, I think.
Then, I saw some yaks in Washington, D.C. during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2000. These yaks were brought from somewhere in the mid-West and most probably may have belonged to Willis Larson.
Larson has been raising the yaks primarily for their meat. While I do not like the end result, I tend to like the development of yaks becoming a part of the American bovine family, much in the way the small Tibetan American human community is trying to be part of the broader American society.