March 07, 2012

White buffalo hunt in Texas

$13,500 to Kill Sacred White Buffalo in Texas—Can This Be True?American Indians across the internet are flocking to the website of Texas Hunt Lodge today—and not because they’re planning a hunting trip. No, they’re alarmed by a page on the site dedicated to the White Buffalo Hunt Package, which advertises a chance to kill a white buffalo for $13,500.

White buffaloes are sacred animals to the Lakota Sioux and other Native groups, and there aren’t a lot of the creatures around. When one was born last year in Greenville, Texas, it was an occasion for much rejoicing. An article in the British newspaper Daily Mail extensively covered the naming ceremony of Lightning Medicine Cloud. That report said that “Lightning Medicine Cloud, whose name is also a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933, named Big Medicine, is thought—in Lakota Sioux tradition—to be the third of its kind ever born.”

It may be that not all white buffaloes are created equal, for there is a herd in Bend, Oregon, that contains 11 white buffaloes. Even so, it’s safe to say there aren’t a lot of them; an article on the herd from 2010 said that experts estimate that there are less than 50 white buffaloes in existence.

The sacredness of the white buffalo is linked to the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman, a Lakota prophet who brought the Lakota the Seven Sacred Rituals.

When I saw the first posting of this on Facebook, I immediately reposted it. After that, several others reposted it as well. The brief online protest led to this:

White Buffalo Hunt Causing Uproar Throughout Indian Country Will Stop

By Jack McNeel“We’re outraged,” James Swan remarks regarding the white buffalo hunt offered by a Texas hunting ranch. “We don’t have a problem with people having [white buffalo]. We just have a problem with people making big bucks killing them.”

Swan is a Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member and President and Founder of United Urban Warrior Society. “In our Lakota ways our creation story starts with the white buffalo. Over the centuries the white buffalo, to us, is a very sacred part of our culture and part of our spirituality. Our people didn’t have a written language. Everything was passed down through stories over the centuries and white buffalo was a center part of everything we do.”

The story on the white buffalo hunt was posted to Indian Country Today Media Network on Monday afternoon and kicked off a firestorm of Facebook activity. Late Tuesday, Aaron Bulkley, owner of Texas Hunt Lodge, which advertised the $13,500 buffalo hunt on its website, spoke with ICTMN about the matter. “We’ve had a ton of feedback from people since the white buffalo story came out, and I understand the white buffalo is sacred to Indians,” he said. “It’s been on the website for three years and all of a sudden people are excited about it. I do understand their point. I’m not saying I disagree with it or agree with it but I am going to take it off the website.”

Asked directly if he would be offering white buffalo hunts at all, he responded, “Not for white buffalo.”
Comment:  It's more correct to say the firestorm of Facebook activity triggered the ICTMN posting, I think. Either way, it's another example of a successful protest via social media. The number of victories we're achieving simply by publicizing things is truly amazing.

For more on the white buffalo, see White Buffalo in Popular Culture and White Buffalo = Third of Its Kind?

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