A reward for information on the killing of one-year-old rare white buffalo is now at $45,000 following a flood of donations.
Lightning Medicine Cloud (a reference to the thunderstorm that marked the arrival of his birth as well as a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933 named Big Medicine) was found killed and skinned in a gruesome scene on the Native American owned ranch where he lived near Greenville, Texas. White buffalo are extremely rare and considered sacred in some Native American cultures.
Arby Little Soldier, owner of the Lakota Ranch and a descendant of Sitting Bull, told Indian Country Today that he has received an outpouring of condolences from American Indians and corporations: “people just saying they’re sorry that this happened.”
Little Soldier also said that he understands that the local Sheriffs and the Texas Rangers have suspects. But he noted that because of the publicity surrounding the killing, “People have been saying they did it when they didn’t, just to get their names into the news.”
He said that local people are contacting their Senators and their Congresspersons calling for the killing of the sacred animal to be considered a hate crime.
“There is no penalty for killing a buffalo in the state of Texas. If you kill a horse, you get hung. If you kill a buffalo, nothing happens. So some people around here would like to see this classified as a hate crime, which would make it a Federal crime,” he said.
There is no chance that the killing was simply a random or spontaneous act of violence, he said: “They knew the traditional Native American way of how to take out this animal.”
The day following the calf’s death, his mother, Buffalo Woman, was found dead.
“She looked sick and discouraged,” Little Soldier said. “She seemed to be saying ‘What happened to my son?’ I fed her that night, and the next morning she was dead. She died within about a 20-foot radius of where the calf was born.”
By some accounts, Lightning Medicine Cloud was just the third known non-albino, naturally-occurring white buffalo and the first male to be born in 150 years.
Native Americans see the birth of a white buffalo calf as the most significant of prophetic signs, equivalent to the weeping statues, bleeding icons and crosses of light that are becoming prevalent within the Christian churches today. Where the Christian faithful who visit these signs see them as a renewal of God’s ongoing relationship with humanity, so do the Native Americans see the white buffalo calf as the sign to begin life’s sacred hoop.
“The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ,” says Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo, an Oglala Medicine Man from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “It will bring about purity of mind, body, and spirit and unify all nations — black, red, yellow, and white.”
Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo sees the birth of a white calf as an omen because they happen in the most unexpected places and often among the poorest people in the nation. The birth of the sacred white buffalo provides those within the Native American community with a sense of hope and an indication that good times are to come.
A previously scheduled May 11-12 Powwow will celebrate Lightning Medicine Cloud.
Photo credit: KDFW screengrab