The Bizarre Tale of Sam Lone Wolf, the "Spiritual Elder" in the Case of the White Buffalo
Sam Lone Wolf, aka a bunch of other names
Hunt County Sheriff's Office
Earlier this month, I wrote a cover story so bizarre, I had to periodically check official documents just to be sure I had not wandered into the realm of magical realism. Yes, in fact, a sacred white buffalo was born to a Greenville rancher named Arby Little Soldier during a lightning storm in 2011. Indeed, Little Soldier, as far as I know, still maintains said white buffalo was slain as a result of a Cheyenne conspiracy.
I'm not spoiling much by saying we may never know the whole truth, but the white buffalo was not mutilated by conspiratorial Native Americans wielding skinning knives, perhaps at the behest of Ted Nugent.
There was another character, though, who I found even more fascinating, but I couldn't plumb his strange background as much as I would have liked, primarily for the sake of column inches.
If you watched the newscast of Arby Little Soldier castigating the Hunt County Sheriff's Office during its investigation of the white buffalo's death, you would have beheld a man named Sam Lone Wolf (I will never write another story populated by such awesome names). It was Lone Wolf who threatened "Indian Justice" if the killers weren't apprehended quickly. And it was Lone Wolf who said he'd "lost respect" for the Hunt County Sheriff's Office, based on his experience in law enforcement in Wichita, Kansas (there is no record, by the way, of him working for any agency there).
Nevertheless, Lone Wolf, it seems, was Little Soldier's "spiritual elder," offering wisdom on the proper treatment of the sacred creature.
It was Lone Wolf's guidance, for example, that prompted Little Soldier to bury the white buffalo soon after discovering its carcass, guaranteeing that by the time it was exhumed for investigators, no physical evidence remained. In my background research, I discovered there was much more to Lone Wolf, a man who runs a dojo out of his home in Palestine, Texas, and also a wolf sanctuary. He has said he never travels without a wolf at his side "for protection."
Who is this man? According to an online martial arts profile, he is half Mescalero Apache, half "Oglala Lakota Sioux" and a "Grandmaster in Hawaiian Kosho Ryu." I don't want to get into parsing who is and isn't a Native American. His Facebook profile says he's from Mescalero, New Mexico, which would make sense because there's a reservation there. On the other hand, I have an entry in the California birth index showing a Sam Lone Wolf with the same birth date, but born in Solano, California, instead. Even at the chronological starting point, we're on unsteady terrain.
Stranger still, there's an affidavit filed by a defense attorney in Rapid City, South Dakota, regarding a Sam Lone Wolf. Back in the early '80s, the attorney, James Leach, was representing a man named Collins Catch the Bear, an activist in the American Indian Movement who was charged with the murder of a Rapid City man at Camp Yellow Thunder. In the mid-'70s, the movement, agitating for better treatment of Native Americans and against broken treaties, was the target of an illegal domestic spying campaign waged by the FBI. Turns out, Lone Wolf was something of a movement hanger-on at the time, and became one of the prosecutor's key witnesses before a grand jury.
Apart from fingering Catch the Bear, he claimed AIM was running guns at Camp Yellow Thunder and had received military training in Cuba. So Catch the Bear's lawyer did a little digging. He discovered Lone Wolf had a bevy of aliases, birth dates and Social Security numbers.
His real name, in fact, was Joseph Angel Molano. Leach found Lone Wolf's father in Puerto Rico, who told him he hadn't seen his son since he was charged on suspicion of assault with intent to rape in San Juan when he was roughly 14 years old. He said a judge sent him away to a reform school in Washington, D.C. (according to FBI records, he was incarcerated for two years). Leach obtained Lone Wolf's FBI rap sheet and a National Crime Information Center teletype containing all criminal charges linked to his fingerprints, and forming something of a map of Lone Wolf's peripatetic tendencies.
When he was sentenced to one year in the penitentiary for two counts of grand larceny in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1987, he went by Charles Thunderhawk. He used the same name when he was sent up again for attempted robbery and the use of a firearm shortly thereafter, according to documents released by the Hunt County Sheriff's Office. At other times he was known as Joe Quinones, Sean Beauchamp, Joseph Lee and John Haggerty.
His rap sheet puts him, at one time or another, in Baton Rouge, San Diego, the Seminole Reservation in Florida and Denver. Needless to say, when Leach filed his affidavit, the prosecution abandoned him as a witness. The murder charge against Catch the Bear was later dropped too.
I doubt Arby Little Soldier knew any of this when he sought the man out for advice. One piece of it Little Soldier says he received was an admonition not to touch the white buffalo before its first birthday. That means no vaccinations. The investigators' best guess, based on what evidence was left, was that both the white buffalo, its mother, and several other buffalo on the ranch died of blackleg, a fatal bacterial infection that is commonly averted in both cattle and buffalo by a vaccine.
Little Soldier said Lone Wolf told him the white buffalo needed a year to assume its power. Without that vaccine, it didn't see its first birthday.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- The Cowboys' 5 Biggest Thanksgiving Turkeys
- Live From London: Your Holiday Weekend Weather Apocaforecast
- Oak Lawn Protesters Pick Fight With Philip Kingston