Why Some Amazon Workers Aren’t Happy About Their Raise

As soon as he said “new Amazon minimum wage of $15 an hour,” Mr. Clark was drowned out by more than 10 seconds of cheers and high-fives.

But in Amazon warehouses across the country, many longtime workers are fuming that — based on the information they have received so far — they may end up making thousands of dollars less a year.

Yes, Amazon is increasing wages, which will benefit most employees. But it will no longer give out new stock options and monthly bonuses. Some workers believe that means their total compensation will shrink.

Whether Amazon finds a way to close that gap will be closely watched in Washington. On Oct. 4, Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, sent a letter to Jay Carney, who runs Amazon’s public policy, “asking Amazon to confirm how the total compensation of employees who would have received stock options — those with the company for two or more years — will be affected as a result of the recent changes,” according to a copy provided to The New York Times.

Mr. Sanders, who was alerted to the issue by workers, has not yet received a response from Amazon, a spokesman for the senator said.

The New York Times spoke to about a half dozen workers around the country, from Texas to Kentucky, and viewed numerous employee discussions on Facebook. All of the workers shared their pay stubs, but few would allow their names to be used.

Near Minneapolis, Katy Iber, who handles returned products at an Amazon warehouse, works the night shift. Her region has a tight local labor market, so she already makes more than $15 an hour.

In an “all hands” meeting at the start of her shift on Thursday — her first day at work since the pay raise was announced — she learned Amazon was raising her base pay by $1 an hour.

But it was also ending monthly attendance and productivity bonuses, known as the Variable Compensation Plan, or V.C.P. And she would no longer be granted valuable Amazon shares. The trade-off meant she’d be losing money, she said.

It was as though the company was saying “‘thanks, we appreciate you going into the holidays. Here’s less money,’” Ms. Iber said. The New York Times reached Ms. Iber through the Awood Center, a nonprofit that is organizing East African workers in the region.

Amazon maintained in a statement that the higher hourly wages “more than compensates for the phase out” of the stock and incentive bonuses. A traditional pay raise, the company said, is “more immediate and predictable.”

Amazon said more than 250,000 employees and an additional 100,000 seasonal workers would be benefit from the pay changes, and announced similar changes for workers in Britain.Deutsche Bank estimated that Amazon’s pay increase “represents less than 1 percent of its projected 2019 revenue.”

For many workers, including those who work part-time and were never eligible for stock and bonuses, the raises in base pay will certainly put more cash in their pockets.

Amazon officials said that over the next week they will adjust the pay of some employees to make sure workers do not end up losing money with the changes.

The difference between what some employees believe is their total compensation and what the company believes they are being paid also may come down to accounting rules. Amazon said that if employees in 2018 use stock options granted two years ago, that legally counts as compensation this year. But some employees believe that was compensation for work done two years ago.

The difference — whether because of miscommunication or incomplete information given to employees — has resonated in Amazon warehouses around the country, particularly with employees with a longer tenure at the company.

The dispute is over two compensation programs that will end on Nov. 1. The first, the Variable Compensation Plan paid out each month. It offered up to a 4 percent bonus for attendance, and an additional 4 percent if a worker’s building met certain production goals.

Ms. Iber said someone in her warehouse wrote “BRING BACK VCP!!!!” on a whiteboard where employees are encouraged to communicate with management.

In the three months around the holiday season, known as “double down,” the bonus doubles, meaning employees could earn an as much as a 16 percent on top of their regular wages.

The second program gave employees shares in Amazon stock each year. They get to keep the shares if they’re still working at the company after two years. Recently, employees have been getting two shares, worth about a combined $3,725 at current market value. With the changes, workers get to keep the stock granted in previous years but will not earn new shares.

Documentation Ms. Iber provided showed that her bonus amounted to $1.28 an hour in August. In the three months around the holidays, that could be more than $2.50 an hour, far more than the $1 an hour in base pay increase she’s getting.

She is down even more when stock grants are taken into account. She will keep old shares, but will not be granted new ones.

In a Facebook group popular with employees, workers fumed over the changes, according to screenshots from the page that were viewed by The New York Times.

There were so many negative pending posts on the day Amazon announced the $15 wage that a moderator wrote that she deleted them and pleaded with workers to write to the corporate offices in Seattle rather than vent online.

Another poster wrote that her co-workers were contemplating a walkout on Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, and others said they were saddened to lose the sense of ownership that the stock compensation provided.

Workers said the timing of the change, just as bonuses double for the holiday season, stings. Ms. Iber said a co-worker told her he regretted paying down some credit card debt in anticipation of the extra holiday bonus. He worried that without the extra holiday pay, he won’t be able cover his regular monthly bills.

She could sympathize. Last year, Ms. Iber used the holiday season bonuses to pay for insulation in her attic. She was going to get a new water heater this year, but now she’s holding off. She said she will wait for the heater to break, and if it does, she’ll put the repairs on a credit card.

 

October 09, 2018

Sources: New York Times

Related news

  • Google CEO acknowledges controversial Chinese search project after being slammed by White House

    Google CEO acknowledges controversial Chinese search project after being slammed by White House

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>The CEO, who took the top spot at the search giant in 2015, said Google would be able to &quot;serve well over 99 percent of the queries&quot; and &quot;there are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what&apos;s available.&quot;</p><p>Google has yet to respond&#xA0;to a request for comment for this story from Fox News.</p><p>The search giant, owned by internet holding company Alphabet, has come under considerable scrutiny, both internal and external, about its intentions for the search engine, internally known as Project Dragonfly, which would be app-based, and any perception that it would be kowtowing&#xA0;to the Chinese government&apos;s demands for censorship.</p><p>&quot;The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities&apos; repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China,&quot; the letter said.</p><p>The app will also identify topics and websites that are blocked by China&apos;s Great Firewall, according to the documents. The Intercept reported that censored sites would include British broadcaster BBC and Wikipedia.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  • Uber could be worth $120 billion in an IPO next year

    Uber could be worth $120 billion in an IPO next year

    sion.</p><p>Uber could be valued at $120 billion when it finally goes public next year according to recent proposals made by US banks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.</p><p>The ride-hailing company’s most recent valuation was pegged at $76 billion, following a $500 million investment from Toyota Motor Corp in August.</p><p>Reuters reported in late September that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were in pole position to secure top roles in Uber IPO.</p><p>Uber and smaller rival Lyft have been actively preparing to go public next year. While Lyft has hired IPO advisory firm Class V Group LLC, Uber is behind in its preparations.</p><p>Uber hired Nelson Chai as its chief financial officer in August, filling a long-standing vacancy and clearing the way for its much-anticipated IPO.</p><p> News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services. </p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Report: Uber IPO could put company value at $120 billion

    Report: Uber IPO could put company value at $120 billion

    year that values the ride-hailing business at as much as $120 billion, according to a media report.</p><p> There are hurdles for Uber, past and present. In addition to a series of scandals including workplace sexual harassment, theft of intellectual property and the ouster of its co-founder, the company is facing increasing competition.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  • Bezos says Amazon will work with DoD; says US in 'big trouble' without 'big tech' companies

    Bezos says Amazon will work with DoD; says US in 'big trouble' without 'big tech' companies

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Amazon founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos participates in keynote address panel at Air Force Association's Air, Space &amp;amp; Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.</p><p>Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has distinguished his company from other big tech firms in declaring its willingness to work with the United States Department of Defense. </p><p>Amazon is bidding for a 10-year contract with the Defense Department known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, JEDI, to offer cloud computing services worth up to $10 billion. </p><p>&#x201C;We are going to continue to support the DoD, and I think we should,&#x201D; Bezos said.</p><p>This is a great country and it does need to be defended.</p><p>&quot;Many Microsoft employees don&apos;t believe that what we build should be used for waging war,&quot; the letter read.</p><p>&#x201C;One of the jobs of the senior leadership team is to make the right decision, even when it&#x2019;s unpopular,&#x201D; Bezos said. &quot;This is a great country and it does need to be defended.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I know everybody is very conflicted about the current politics and so on,&#x201D; he said, but, &#x201C;This country is a gem.&#x201D;</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  • Apple donating 1,000 watches for binge eating disorder study

    Apple donating 1,000 watches for binge eating disorder study

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine plan to use the Apple Watch to study the genetic factors that may be associated with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa.</p><p>The Binge Eating Genetics INitiative (BEGIN) research study will select 1,000 people to receive a free Apple Watch, donated by the Cupertino tech giant, according to CNBC.</p><p>&quot;Researchers will monitor their heart rate using the device&apos;s sensor over the course of a month to see if there are spikes before binge eating episodes,&quot; the report notes. &quot;It&apos;s likely that a binging and purging episode would cause some biological change that would show up in the Apple Watch data.&quot;</p><p>The researchers are hoping to use this information to develop better treatments for these illnesses.</p><p>&quot;We&apos;re interested to find out what happens in the time period leading up to the binge and the purge,&quot; Recovery Record CEO Jenna Tregarthen told CNBC. &quot;And we hope we can anticipate and ultimately change the course of that episode.&quot;</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Facebook requires UK political ad buyers to reveal identity

    Facebook requires UK political ad buyers to reveal identity

    cal ad on the social media platform will now be forced to reveal their identity, in a bid to increase transparency and curb misinformation.</p><p> The company said Tuesday that it will also require disclaimers for any British political advertisements. All the data on the ad buyers will be archived for seven years in a publicly accessible database.</p><p> British lawmakers have called for greater oversight of social media companies and election campaigns to protect democracy in the digital age.</p><p> A House of Commons report this year said democracy is facing a crisis because data analysis and social media allow campaigns to target voters with messages of hate without their consent.</p><p> Facebook said it's up against "smart and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse," but it believes that increased transparency is good for democracy and the electoral process.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, dies

    Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist, dies

    an Inc. Earlier this month Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that he was treated for in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it aggressively.</p><p> Gates said he was heartbroken about the loss of one of his "oldest and dearest friends."</p><p> "Personal computing would not have existed without him," Gates said in a statement, adding that Allen's "second act" as a philanthropist was "focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world."</p><p> Allen and Gates met while attending a private school in north Seattle. The two friends would later drop out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.</p><p> Gates so strongly believed in their dream that he left Harvard University in his junior year to devote himself full-time to his and Allen's startup, which Allen dubbed Micro-Soft, short for microprocessors and software. Allen spent two years at Washington State University before dropping out as well.</p><p> They founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, giving hobbyists a basic way to program and operate the machine.</p><p> After Gates and Allen found some success selling their programming language, MS-Basic, the Seattle natives moved their business in 1979 to Bellevue, Washington, not far from its eventual home in Redmond.</p><p> Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp. decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.</p><p> Gates and company didn't invent the operating system. To meet IBM's needs, they spent $50,000 to buy one known as QDOS from another programmer, Tim Paterson. Eventually the product refined by Microsoft — and renamed DOS, for Disk Operating System — became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.</p><p> The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983. By 1991, Microsoft's operating systems were used by 93 percent of the world's personal computers.</p><p> The Windows operating system is now used on most of the world's desktop computers, and Word is the cornerstone of the company's prevalent Office products.</p><p> Allen, however, departed the company just eight years after its founding in 1975. He served as Microsoft's executive vice president of research and new product development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with cancer.</p><p> "To be 30 years old and have that kind of shock — to face your mortality — really makes you feel like you should do some of the things that you haven't done yet," Allen said in a 2000 book, "Inside Out: Microsoft in Our Own Words."</p><p> Two weeks ago, Allen announced that a different cancer — non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he was treated for in 2009 — had returned.</p><p> Over the course of several decades, Allen gave more than $2 billion to a wide range of interests, including ocean health, homelessness and advancing scientific research. With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, Paul Allen founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts.</p><p> "Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal," Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.</p><p> Allen was on the list of America's wealthiest people who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity. "Those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity," he said.</p><p> His influence is firmly imprinted on the cultural landscape of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, from the bright metallic Museum of Pop Culture designed by architect Frank Gehry to the computer science center at the University of Washington that bears his name.</p><p> He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit. He has also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.</p><p> "My brother was a remarkable individual on every level," his sister Jody Allen said in a statement. "Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern."</p><p> Allen also funded maverick aerospace designer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned spacecraft to reach space.</p><p> The SpaceShipOne technology was licensed by Sir Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic, which is testing a successor design to carry tourists on brief hops into lower regions of space.</p><p> Branson tweeted Monday: "So sad to hear about the passing of Paul Allen. Among many other things he was a pioneer of commercial space travel. We shared a belief that by exploring space in new ways we can improve life on Earth."</p><p> Allen was also an avid sports fan and used some of his fortune to buy several professional teams.</p><p> In 1988 at 35, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers and told The Associated Press that "for a true fan of the game, this is a dream come true."</p><p> He also was a part owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, a major league soccer team, and bought the Seattle Seahawks. Allen could sometimes be seen at games or chatting in the locker room with players.</p><p> When he released his 2011 memoir, "Idea Man," he allowed 60 Minutes inside his home on Lake Washington, across the water from Seattle, revealing collections that ranged from the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock to vintage war planes and a 300-foot yacht with its own submarine.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Oklahoma's Choctaw horses connect to Mississippi

    Oklahoma's Choctaw horses connect to Mississippi

    o scamper across a pasture in southwest Mississippi — the first new blood in a century for a line of horses brought to America by Spanish conquistadors and bred by Choctaw Indians who were later forced out of their ancestral homelands.</p><p> Choctaw horses were thought to be long gone from this region, disappearing when their Native American owners were expelled from the U.S. Southeast by the government. But the surprise discovery of DeSoto on a farm in Poplarville 13 years ago led to a plan to help the dwindling strain survive.</p><p> "That really gives us a shot in the arm," said Bryant Rickman, who has been working since 1980 near Antlers, Oklahoma, to restore the line. He estimates he has bred more than 300 of the horses from nine mares and three stallions. But having so few stallions led to a bottleneck, because the gene pool was so small.</p><p> Choctaws saw great power in horses. Ian Thompson, tribal historic preservation officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said their word for horse, issoba, means "like a deer" — and the deer was the tribe's most important animal, both economically and spiritually.</p><p> "So naming the horse after the deer was really saying something," Thompson said.</p><p> Choctaw horses are descended from those brought to the United States in the 1500s and later by Spanish explorers and colonists, said Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.</p><p> It's one strain in a breed called Colonial Spanish horses, often referred to by the misleading term "Spanish mustang." Colonial Spanish horses are among the world's few genetically unique horse breeds, and are of great historic importance to this country, Sponenberg said.</p><p> The Choctaw nation lived in much of what are now Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Choctaws owned tens of thousands of horses by 1830, when Congress gave President Andrew Jackson the power to force Indians out of lands east of the Mississippi, Thompson said.</p><p> The relocation of Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and Seminole Indians to Oklahoma, which has come to be known as the "Trail of Tears," took decades. Thompson said more than 12,000 Choctaw people made the journey but an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 died along the way. In Oklahoma, the Choctaw and their horses were part of the cattle-ranching economy.</p><p> "They're very people-oriented. They're just as docile as your favorite dog," said Rickman.</p><p> DeSoto was discovered in 2005 when Sponenberg visited Poplarville to check out small cattle descended from Spanish colonial stock. He was surprised to find Spanish colonial sheep, there, too. Then came the day's biggest surprise.</p><p> "Out of the woods came this horse, single-footing," he said, referring to a smooth gait between walking and galloping, rather than the bouncing trot common to most horses.</p><p> Bill Frank Brown was 14 when he inherited the Poplarville farm that Sponenberg visited in 2005. The farm had been in Brown's family since 1881 and the livestock there, even longer. Brown had three stallions back then, including DeSoto. He called them pine tacky horses. The Texas A&M veterinary school tested samples of the stallions' DNA, and they matched those of Rickman's Choctaws.</p><p> Two of the stallions have since died, leaving only DeSoto. Sponenberg picked the mares that would be the best genetic matches for DeSoto, and they were brought to Mississippi last year. The Browns say some of the offspring will remain in Mississippi while others will go back to Oklahoma, along with pregnant mares.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

    Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

    ymphoma, his company Vulcan Inc. announced.</p><p> Gates said he was heartbroken about the loss of one of his "oldest and dearest friends."</p><p> "Personal computing would not have existed without him," Gates said in a statement.</p><p> "But Paul wasn't content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, 'If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it,'" Gates wrote.</p><p> Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Allen's contributions to the company, community and industry "indispensable."</p><p> Allen, an avid sports fan, owned the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks.</p><p> "Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal," Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.</p><p> Allen was on the list of America's wealthiest people who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity. "Those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity," he said.</p><p> Allen and Gates met while attending a private school in north Seattle. The two friends would later drop out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.</p><p> Gates so strongly believed it that he left Harvard University in his junior year to devote himself full-time to his and Allen's startup, originally called Micro-Soft. Allen spent two years at Washington State University before dropping out as well.</p><p> They founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, giving hobbyists a basic way to program and operate the machine.</p><p> After Gates and Allen found some success selling their programming language, MS-Basic, the Seattle natives moved their business in 1979 to Bellevue, Washington, not far from its eventual home in Redmond.</p><p> Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp. decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.</p><p> Gates and Allen didn't invent the operating system. To meet IBM's needs, they spent $50,000 to buy one known as QDOS from another programmer, Tim Paterson. Eventually the product refined by Microsoft — and renamed DOS, for Disk Operating System — became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.</p><p> The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983. By 1991, Microsoft's operating systems were used by 93 percent of the world's personal computers.</p><p> The Windows operating system is now used on most of the world's desktop computers, and Word is the cornerstone of the company's prevalent Office products.</p><p> Gates and Allen became billionaires when Microsoft was thrust onto the throne of technology.</p><p> With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, Paul Allen founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit. He has also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.</p><p> Allen also funded maverick aerospace designer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned spacecraft to reach space.</p><p> The SpaceShipOne technology was licensed by Sir Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic, which is testing a successor design to carry tourists on brief hops into lower regions of space.</p><p> Branson tweeted Monday: "So sad to hear about the passing of Paul Allen. Among many other things he was a pioneer of commercial space travel. We shared a belief that by exploring space in new ways we can improve life on Earth."</p><p> When Allen released his 2011 memoir, "Idea Man," he allowed 60 Minutes inside his home on Lake Washington, across the water from Seattle, revealing collections that included the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock to vintage war planes and a 300-foot yacht with its own submarine.</p><p> Allen served as Microsoft's executive vice president of research and new product development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.</p><p> "To be 30 years old and have that kind of shock — to face your mortality — really makes you feel like you should do some of the things that you haven't done yet," Allen said in a 2000 book, "Inside Out: Microsoft in Our Own Words."</p><p> Two weeks ago, Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that he was treated for in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it aggressively.</p><p> "My brother was a remarkable individual on every level," his sister Jody Allen said in a statement. "Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern," she added.</p><p> His influence is firmly imprinted on the cultural landscape of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, from the bright metallic Museum of Pop Culture designed by architect Frank Gehry to the computer science center at the University of Washington that bears his name.</p><p> In 1988 at 35, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team. He told The Associated Press that "for a true fan of the game, this is a dream come true."</p><p> He also was a part owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, a major league soccer team, and bought the Seattle Seahawks. Allen could sometimes be seen at games or chatting in the locker room with players.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  •  Oklahoma's Choctaw horses connect to Mississippi

    Oklahoma's Choctaw horses connect to Mississippi

    o scamper across a pasture in southwest Mississippi — the first new blood in a century for a line of horses brought to America by Spanish conquistadors and bred by Choctaw Indians who were later forced out of their ancestral homelands.</p><p> Choctaw horses were thought to be long gone from this region, disappearing when their Native American owners were expelled from the U.S. Southeast by the government. But the surprise discovery of DeSoto on a farm in Poplarville 13 years ago led to a plan to help the dwindling strain survive.</p><p> "That really gives us a shot in the arm," said Bryant Rickman, who has been working since 1980 near Antlers, Oklahoma, to restore the line. He estimates he has bred more than 300 of the horses from nine mares and three stallions. But having so few stallions led to a bottleneck, because the gene pool was so small.</p><p> Choctaws saw great power in horses. Ian Thompson, tribal historic preservation officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said their word for horse, issoba, means "like a deer" — and the deer was the tribe's most important animal, both economically and spiritually.</p><p> "So naming the horse after the deer was really saying something," Thompson said.</p><p> Choctaw horses are descended from those brought to the United States in the 1500s and later by Spanish explorers and colonists, said Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.</p><p> It's one strain in a breed called Colonial Spanish horses, often referred to by the misleading term "Spanish mustang." Colonial Spanish horses are among the world's few genetically unique horse breeds, and are of great historic importance to this country, Sponenberg said.</p><p> The Choctaw nation lived in much of what are now Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Choctaws owned tens of thousands of horses by 1830, when Congress gave President Andrew Jackson the power to force Indians out of lands east of the Mississippi, Thompson said.</p><p> The relocation of Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and Seminole Indians to Oklahoma, which has come to be known as the "Trail of Tears," took decades. Thompson said more than 12,000 Choctaw people made the journey but an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 died along the way. In Oklahoma, the Choctaw and their horses were part of the cattle-ranching economy.</p><p> "They're very people-oriented. They're just as docile as your favorite dog," said Rickman.</p><p> DeSoto was discovered in 2005 when Sponenberg visited Poplarville to check out small cattle descended from Spanish colonial stock. He was surprised to find Spanish colonial sheep, there, too. Then came the day's biggest surprise.</p><p> "Out of the woods came this horse, single-footing," he said, referring to a smooth gait between walking and galloping, rather than the bouncing trot common to most horses.</p><p> Bill Frank Brown was 14 when he inherited the Poplarville farm that Sponenberg visited in 2005. The farm had been in Brown's family since 1881 and the livestock there, even longer. Brown had three stallions back then, including DeSoto. He called them pine tacky horses. The Texas A&M veterinary school tested samples of the stallions' DNA, and they matched those of Rickman's Choctaws.</p><p> Two of the stallions have since died, leaving only DeSoto. Sponenberg picked the mares that would be the best genetic matches for DeSoto, and they were brought to Mississippi last year. The Browns say some of the offspring will remain in Mississippi while others will go back to Oklahoma, along with pregnant mares.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018

Comments

Earn free bitcoin