As the killing of the rare white buffalo calf in Texas is becoming a national news story, more details are emerging about the circumstance's of White Medicine Cloud's death, and that of the sacred animal's mother.
On Monday, April 30, Lakota Ranch owners found the carcass of a buffalo calf that had been killed and skinned, and deduced that it was their prized calf White Medicine Cloud. At that time, Buffalo Woman, the calf's mother, was looking out of sorts, says Arby Little Soldier, owner of the Lakota Ranch and a descendant of Sitting Bull. "She looked sick and discouraged," he told Indian Country Today Media Network. "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."
Investigations by the Hunt County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers are proceeding, but cautiously. "They're trying to keep it low-key," said Little Soldier, who revealed that there is a suspect or suspects. The investigators "have someone in mind," he said. But as with any news-making crime, there is plenty of disinformation floating around -- some of it completely intentional. "People have been saying they did it when they didn't," Little Soldier said, "just to get their names into the news."
As reported previously, the reward being offered for information leading to a conviction has grown from $5,000 to $45,000 thanks to concerned donors. It may still be climbing. "That's just from people calling us," says Little Soldier. "We haven't added in the PayPal yet." Little Soldier says he has received an outpouring of condolences from American Indians and corporations -- "people just saying they're sorry that this happened" -- but has not heard from any Native Tribal Councils yet.
There is also some interesting legal maneuvering occurring that could radically change the nature of the case. "Local people here are pushing for this to be considered a hate crime," he says. "They're contacting their Senators, their Congressmen. 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."
Little Soldier says that there is no chance that this crime was simply a random or spontaneous act of violence. "They knew the traditional Native American way of how to take out this animal," he says, although he declined to go into detail. "Maybe that means the killers were Native American, or maybe they were trying to make it look like they were."