By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"It appears this account was not a dedicated fund set up for reward money or scholarship money," Seals wrote in his final report. "It appears this account is used for daily operation of the ranch." To be specific, $7,345 designated for the funds "cannot be accounted for ..."
In response, Little Soldier held another press conference. Sam Lone Wolf was nowhere in sight. "I guess, at this time, we're kinda disappointed with what they've come up with, the status they've come up with; this blackleg and stuff like that here," he told the assembled reporters near a table he'd set up with a portrait of the white buffalo calf and its mother. Asked about evidence indicating that the calf had not been skinned, he replied, "That's their word; they're saying there's hide on it? I did not see no hide. The only hide I seen was up on the back legs and everything else was gone from the neck, back."
Suddenly, they all heard a woman's voice behind them. Standing out on the side of U.S. Highway 380, just beyond Little Soldier's property line, was Yolanda Blue Horse. As 18-wheelers and pickups roared past, she shouted over the din. "You lied on everyone around you, everyone who supported you." The reporters' attention shifted from Little Soldier. Their cameras wheeled around. When he had concluded his press conference, she asked the group a simple question: Why do you not see any other Native Americans standing with Arby Little Soldier today?
On a recent afternoon, Little Soldier was plowing the arena next to his house for his wife's barrel-racing practice. He pulled up to the fence and shut it down. His attorney had advised him not to talk to reporters, he said, and he didn't want any notes taken as he talked. But he continued to speak for some 20 minutes or so about the death of Lightning Medicine Cloud. The Lakota Nation, he said, was itching to tear Hunt County apart for this insult. What the sheriff and the Texas Ranger had done to him, he said, was tantamount to the breaking of treaties long ago.
"Something," he said, had been placed on the heads of the sheriff and the Texas Ranger by medicine men. He didn't know whether it would be a "heart attack or a car wreck." But he claimed he had a board with names written on it in red. He was only waiting to put a line through them.
Lightning's death, he continued, was a Cheyenne conspiracy. Albert Old Crow and Yolanda Blue Horse represented "demonic" forces. He speculated that rocker Ted Nugent may have been involved. Storm clouds were gathering, and the wind was picking up. It smelled like rain.
The calf was ready to leave its mother, he said. It was going to come to him and assume its power. With that, he had nothing more to say.
It is not known whether District Attorney Walker or Sheriff Randy Meeks intend to try to hold the Little Soldiers to account for the donations. Neither responded to repeated requests for comment. In Ranger Simmons' report, some of which was redacted, the U.S. Postal Inspection Office in Fort Worth concluded Pat Little Soldier had committed mail fraud, but the amount did not meet federal requirements. Walker's office, her report reads, believes fraud has not been committed until someone tries to claim the reward money. Eric Reed, the Choctaw attorney and former tribal prosecutor, doubted charges would ever be filed. What would be gained? he asks. Better to walk away and allow healing to begin. For Old Crow, it already had.
"When you asked me why [Little Soldier] would blame me for the death of that calf, I told you I believed he panicked. He came up on that dead calf and he panicked. What do I do now? What what what what what? Instead of calling somebody that might be able to give him some decent information, he called up [Lone Wolf], and he tells him to bury it. You bury the thing."
Yolanda Blue Horse, a 6-foot-tall Sicangu Lakota woman, a daughter of the tribes of the northern plains, says what happened here must be remembered. If religion is made of stories worth retelling, shaped by the tongues of generations, then what she witnessed is a parable in her own time. It is about a man who came to North Texas from the Sahnish and Lakota Oyate in North Dakota. It is about the fenced-in, half-domesticated descendant of the North American buffalo, to which the lives of this man's ancestors were once inextricably bound. With the birth of this bull calf, whose coat was bone-white and whose nose was the color of charred wood, a test thousands of years in the making took form. The white buffalo born to Arby Little Soldier could not take on the four colors of the medicine wheel. But the never-ending circle it represents continues to revolve. Another white buffalo calf was born on a farm in Goshen, Connecticut, a little more than a month after Lightning Medicine Cloud's death. Its name is Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy.
If it is the buffalo of prophecy, soon White Buffalo Calf Woman will present the Lakota Oyate with two paths. One leads to harmony. The other leads to discord and destruction. Then she will ask them to choose.
Good greif! This story spirals into a "WTF is going on here" tale? Truth can be crazier than fiction. I can safely say that before I read this, my only interest in buffaloes was the meat, but dang! this story has religion, anthropology, law, and suspicion. A very good read!
Very well written piece, thank you for your investigative diligence; so appreciate your skills. Upon reading the comment Tanka1 wrote, stating there was an insurance policy; together with the multitude of lies and the blatant theft of donations- seems obvious to me that this Arby fellow needs to be charged with theft, fraud, obstruction of justice,animal cruelty, not to mention moral bankruptcy. The man is despicable,his wife should be ashamed instead of belligerent. My people,all Native Americans, are far too noble to claim this fool- he needs to be shunned and cast out. My prayers to the White Medicine Cloud, Old Crow, and Blue Horse.
Excellent job of breaking this down. So well written. I appreciate knowing what happened. My husband and I had been on a trip to Dallas, and he had read about the birth of the white buffalo, so we stopped by the ranch. It happened to be during the week before we heard the awful news. We had pulled-into the driveway where some workmen of some sort were up on the road, eventually a man in a golf cart type vehicle came out to talk to us. My husband told him that we had heard about the white buffalo and asked if he was where we could see him. The man looked at my husband kind of strangely, and said that they were busy getting ready for the buffalo's birthday celebration that weekend...so, of course, when we heard what had happened, we realized the buffalo was already dead when we were there. We have both kept trying to find out what happened. Thank you.
This publication is so hypocritical. It will ridicule Christians all day long for their "silly beliefs", so how is this ridiculous story of a holy freaking buffalo given sacred treatment? What is wrong with you bigots?
OK, I'm still missing it. Was the buffalo deliberately killed, who is the prime suspect, why would he do it, was there a motive?
Customary tradition notwithstanding, this should be a fairly simple who-done-it.
Observer has taken an oath in blood not to reveal real names, if it even knows them.
Please, in a paragraph or two, no symbols or signs, what's the story?
The White Buffalo was a symbol and a sign. Old Crow was right in that the commercialization of his birth was a mistake, and Arby found out that it was. The Buffalo did not die of natural causes. He died because of evil in this world. I am a Choctaw Freedman, and I did not hear of the Buffalo's existence, but I now know of it and will revere it. The spirit will protect those of us who believe.
It seems the buffalo are not the only beings in this story that have been "fenced-in, half-domesticated." This is a beautiful telling of a complicated story.
Little Soldier let greed take over what should have been a sacred event. The white buffalo was taken from him because he used it to benefit himself. I remember seeing Little Soldier in press conferences and sympathizing with him. Later on, I got the feeling he was trying to stay in the press; he liked all the attention. Your conclusion of the story in the last two paragraphs was beautiful.
The first Native American to make a Preparation H Commercial.
Legendary Chief Standing Bull.
Which is all I came away from the story understanding.
Can somebody summarize in a paragraph what the Hell happened? Was it blackleg? Was it murder? What the Hell happened?
I have been following the story for the white buffalo for a very long time. I even stood with Arby Little Soldier one morning when Loyds of London handed him an insurance policy to look at. But first I would like to say that the White Buffalo Calf Woman first came to the Ponca Indians and not the Lakota and gifted them the pipe. Second is that skin color doesn't matter when it comes to descendents as we then fall into a slippery slope when looking for who we are or what culture carries on in our lives although skin may be more fair or dark then previous generations. And that the white buffalo in Goshen has now turned dark and is the sign that distruction is the path we have choosen because we lie, cheat, steal, rape, war, and have forgotten what is truly sacred in the world. Really, if the sixth generation of Sitting Bull has his spirit in profit over sanctity when it comes to the White Buffalo what is left of us? Also, Arby Little Soldiers connection to the House of Yehweh is something to be looked into as he gave them free raign over the podiums at times.
@halldecker It might help if you read all they way to the end. This is the third-from-last paragraph. "When you asked me why [Little Soldier] would blame me for the death of that calf, I told you I believed he panicked. He came up on that dead calf and he panicked. What do I do now? What what what what what? Instead of calling somebody that might be able to give him some decent information, he called up [Lone Wolf], and he tells him to bury it. You bury the thing."
@halldecker You are completely correct, halldecker. This piece is terribly written and hard to follow for anyone who is not already familiar with the story. Too much moving between timeframes and too much "he" and "they". I remember reading a writer on the New Yorker staff quoting one of the editors,"You can write the story any way you want, but we will cut it up and make it chronological in the end". Good advice.
@halldecker It appears the white buffalo died from Blackleg, a disease it picked up on the ranch. The investigators found that two other buffaloes had also died from this previously on the ranch. Lone Wolf (Little Soldier''s guru) had advised him not to vaccinate the white buffalo. It appears that when Little Soldier found the white buffalo dead, he panicked because of the money he was reaping from sales of memorabilia while at the same owing the county $6,000 it had fronted him for the naming ceremony. Some of the proceeds from the white buffalo publicity was also supposed to go into a scholarship fund. All this revenue from the white buffalo is still unaccounted for in addition to $17,000 in donations people sent in for reward money to find the white buffalo's killer. Because of all this, Little Soldier decided to make it look like a murder and fabricated accusations against other people. It was also revealed that his guru Lone Wolf has a long history of fraud, he isn't even Indian and has lived several previous identities as a con-artist. Lone Wolf may have had something to do with the misappropriation of funds and since he had Little Soldier wrapped around his finger, he got him to protect him.
@halldecker Little Soldier is the prime suspect because he didn't take care of his animals like he should. He is to blame for the deaths of his animals. The vet suspected blackleg because of the symptoms the buffaloes exhibited before they expired.
@halldecker I am an Oklahoma Choctaw Freedman, which means we are Choctaw plus African American. It was my first time hearing about the white Buffalo. However, it was a story that I could relate too! The Buffalo was here as one of four signs. He was murdered--plain and simple! Who did it, is a mystery, but Old Crow told it like it was and is.
@mwa6582751 I don't believe the buffalo was "murdered". Little Soldier didn't take care of his animals and he didn't deserve to have this buffalo or any animals for that matter. He's greedy and he used the white buffalo to his advantage.