The Death of White Buffallo Calf: Attacking the Heart of the People

Our world here, in northern Vermont, has burst into leafy green, and splendid , vibrant color. This morning the wind literally howled through the treetops as the rains came in. Spring is here in all her fullness!

I have written often about the symbolic nature of Self, and the myriad ways micro-aggressions serve to diminish Self, both in individuals and peoples. Quite often, micro-aggressions aggregate. The resulting injuries to Self, when inflicted on individual and families, may be mitigated by psychotherapy and/or ceremony. When attacks are against an entire group, the wounds are even more difficult to heal.

Last weekend brought heartbreak to Indian Country. The White Buffalo Calf and his mom, exceedingly sacred beings in the lives of Native people, were killed and skinned while their caretakers were away briefly. I do not know how to begin to explain their centrality to the hopes and aspirations of  Indians throughout North America. Native News Network, in a lengthy report on the killings, wrote:

Among some American Indian tribes, it is believed that the message of a white buffalo is that humankind should live with the understanding that all living beings are linked and interdependent. The birth of a white buffalo is an opportunity for all people to collectively focus their energy on the peaceful, healthy and harmonious world.

I can only imagine the grief and rage felt by those from many tribes who have lived close to these Buffalo People, and who had planned to come together shortly to celebrate them. These killings are steeped in symbolic meaning. The White Buffalo is a truly miraculous being. It is estimated that they may be the result of only one in 10 million births. There are very few buffalo remaining to breed, and Native people must often wait for generations for the birth of such a sacred one. Buffalo are central to the well-being of Plains Native cultures, and remain at the center of much Native mythology and spiritual practice. The murder of these animals is another assault on the very spiritual core of Native America.

We can only assume those who enacted these killings knew well the spiritual meaning and impact of their actions. This act transcended the status of micro-aggression, for it strikes at the very heart of Indian Country, and we are people of the Heart. Whether intended to be, or not, it is a hate crime of immense proportions. The harm done will linger for a long, long time.

If you wish to learn more about the importance of The White Buffalo to Native people, visit Nativevillage.org.

18 thoughts on “The Death of White Buffallo Calf: Attacking the Heart of the People

  1. Love > hate, I truly believe. Acts like this challenge us all to look at how we support first nations and all people. Crime against earth’s creatures and their care-takers is a hate that is taught. We must more closely watch what is sown in our children.

    • My heart breaks when I consider the slaughter of these sacred animals and what may be the result of it. And while anger and retribution would certainly be the easier road, I pray that we may all honor this sacrifice by using it as a way to teach a very difficult lesson of healing and forgiveness.

      I can’t help but wonder what kind of place someone had to be in to do such a thing; the wound their spirit must have endured to allow them to commit this kind of attrocity. . .

      • Standing West, my heart aligns with your thinking on this. There was such a loss to His people who most honor nature. I was reading a blog on bullying by Single Dad Laughing today. Wounded spirit indeed. From the home, to the school, to our parts of community. I wonder how many missed opportunities there were to change those persons life directions.

      • I find myself simply agog at this act of terror. I cannot imagine a more carefully placed blow to our collective spirits. And yet, I understand that whoever did this is also suffering. I wonder where this will lead as we move deeper into this time of change.

    • Janelle and Ben, This seems a time of breaking hearts. We are indeed challenged to teach well our children. I believe we are also called to speak out against bullying, terrorism, and racism. Maybe the dance is with our own anger, as we learn to feel and to have compassion for those who harm and those who are harmed.

      Anyway, I find myself profoundly saddened that our country and so many of those who share it with have not learned from generations of broken hearts nd promises.

    • My friends, I don’t have the native knowledge that you hold, and have more respect than the close connection to earth’s creatures that you have. I do know that today I feel deep sorrow for the creatures that lived to bring you message, the lives that turn from hope to hate to commit this horrible offense, and you, His people of nature who understand the interconnection of nature and spirit.

      In my view, reparation and restorative justice can only work when responsibility is accepted. Only when those that throw the pebble acknowledge the ripples, can reconciliation succeed .

      Grace and comfort to you all in this sorrow.

  2. We are truly in the throes of Coyote time, it seems. Everywhere we dance the dance of perceived opposites and conflict. We wrestle with our shadows, and kowtow to our darker impulses all at the same time. I pray that soon we learn that an open hand carries with it more strength than a closed fist. I pray that those of us who find the strength to walk the good red road with loving hearts can, at the very least, provide example for those who’ve lost their way. Acts like these, whether the murder of sacred animals or genocide in Africa are the symptoms of a much deeper affliction. If we are wise, compassionate, and very, very lucky, we might all use this time to come to terms with our darker natures and walk forward together in reconcilliation…

  3. Anger and sadness mix in my prayers. This was quite upsetting when I found out yesterday. It’s sickening to think that I am one with people that would do this, and wonder what there could be within myself to pollute the collective to a degree that would allow such actions of hate and separation.

    • These darker impulses exist within all of us. In the South of the Wheel, Coyote shows us this, and teaches us that we must come to understand and embrace them for what they are. Only then can we learn to treat those parts of ourselves with love and understanding. From there, we can move into the West, and begin the sacred work of healing and reconcilliation…

  4. I agree. Nadeanna, last night the Elders came in my dreams. They seemed to be saying that even though our lives are become more challenging, we are to do our best and not feel defeated. It seemed to me, in the middle of the dream, that much that I love will pass. Yet the Elders insisted I have heart, that I refuse to blame myself or carry more than my part of the burden. Today, as I met with people who are suffering, that theme (refusing to take more than one can carry) came up again and again.

    It used to be that Native people welcomed into their tribe anyone who came with an open heart and a sincere desire to be in community. Thus so many of us have Mixed blood. I imagine the Elders want us to remember those days, and welcome all who love Pachamama into our extended communities. Let us remember they are watching us, and see that we love and honor them, and that our hearts are good. Then we will do what we are able in this darkening time.

  5. So sorry to hear of this senseless and horrible act of hatred. Let’s pray for the softening of their hearts and minds so they may one day see the value of all people and cultures.

    • Thank you, Jamie. The bigger picture is that such actions are all too common, and cut across ethnic and religious lines. Hate crimes that attack the very spirit of a people must be challenged. Yet in this moment of our history, there seem to be few public figures willing to do so. Sharing information is one way to find a voice.

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