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.
Understandably, this page at Texas Hunt Lodge has alarmed those who value white buffaloes. The text reads, in part:
Texas Hunt Lodge allows the opportunity to hunt and harvest the Authentic and Rare White Buffalo. ... There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting the White Buffalo, or White Bison, in Texas, which makes it a suitable trophy year round.
We typically let our hunters choose the method of hunting White Buffalo that they prefer. Hunters of White Buffalo can choose the Spot and Stalk method, Bow Hunting, Rifle Hunting, Black Powder, Safari Style Hunting, Handgun, as well as hunting from a Blind. We can accomodate hunters of any age and experience level, as well as hunters which have physical disabilities or may be confined to a wheelchair.
Our White Buffalo bulls weigh 1200 -1500lbs, and have horns in the 17-20 inch ranch...your white buffalo trophy will be a huge!
A page about Lightning Medicine Cloud on the website of Lakota Ranch speaks of the white buffalo not as a huge trophy, but a hugely significant part of Native culture. According to that page, esteemed Lakota spiritual leader John Lame Deer called the white buffalo "the most sacred living thing you could ever encounter." Oglala Sioux spiritual leader Floyd Looks for Buffalo Hand, a grandson of Red Cloud, is quoted as saying "The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ. ... It will bring about purity of mind, body, and spirit and unify all nations—black, red, yellow, and white."