Monday, August 15, 2011

"He's not a circus act." Family resists temptation to turn white buffalo into a sideshow attraction...

I saw this coming:
"Little Soldier says he's getting a lot of offers to take Lightning Medicine Cloud on the road to stock shows and the like. But, for now, he and his wife have decided it's best for the calf to stay home for scheduled events and by-appointment group outings.

The Little Soldiers have been determined that the animal not become a tourist attraction but rather a pilgrimage of sorts and a celebration of Indian culture. They say Lightning Medicine Cloud's birth is a blessing.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to share our honor and privilege with everybody else. Letting everybody see him," said Little Soldier."

 I anticipated such crass commercial pressure in my novel Middle America (sequel to The Third Revolution).  Here's an except on the subject from Middle America:
“Tommy, we heard about the white buffalo. That’s quite a big deal up in your neck of the woods, no?”
Running Wolf nodded. “Big Smoke, we call him. About two months old now. Doing well, very healthy. He’s not an albino; he’s got blue eyes, not pink. That’s good, albinos have many health problems.”
“Good for business, I would think,” Joe said.
“Yeah, that’s what our white partners say,” Running Wolf agreed, somewhat reluctantly. “It’s much more than that for us, though.” He sat back and drained his glass. Joe caught the bartender’s eye and pointed to the chief’s glass.
“Thanks,” Running Wolf said, as a fresh, frosty glass quickly appeared in front of him. “The white buffalo is a sacred symbol to many of the tribal nations. Each tribe has their own story, but they all involve the appearance of a beautiful woman, dressed in white, who presents the tribe with a pipe, or a parchment inscribed with tribal law, and instructs the people in the ways of prayer, and in the ways of nature, and of survival. When the woman leaves the people, she turns into a white buffalo.”
“So the birth of a white buffalo signals her return?” Ben asked.
“That’s right,” Running Wolf said. “The birth is a messenger of creation, a symbol of rebirth for the Native American community. Some say it means we’re on the verge of a cultural awakening; for others, especially in troubled times, it symbolizes the coming together of humanity into a spiritual unity. Unfortunately, for our white partners, it represents a one-in-ten million dollar marketing opportunity.”
“It doesn’t sound like something a true believer would be looking to cash in on,” Ben said.
“For us it would be like Christians charging admission to witness the Second Coming of Christ.”
“You gotta have T-shirts at least, right? You know, ‘I Saw the White Buffalo and stuff like that?” Joe said, half joking.
“Sure, why not.” Running Wolf shrugged and took another sip of beer. “I’m sure somebody will be selling T-shirts at the Second Coming, right?
“The crowds have already started,” he continued. “The word spread quickly among the tribal nations. That we don’t mind. It’s the television and radio commercials, all that. They’ve already signed some kind of contract with the Nature Channel. If it were up to them they’d have him appearing in a nightclub at one of the big casinos, or at least keep him penned up in one spot so he’d be easy for the general public to get to. It’s important to us that Big Smoke is allowed to live free, to find his place with the rest of the herd. He’s not a circus act.”
“How do you keep track of him out there? Though I suppose spotting a white buffalo in a sea of black ones can’t be all that tough,” Joe asked and answered his own question.
“We keep a close eye on him, to let the visitors know where he is, but mostly to protect him from predators. Buffalo calves are born with protective coloration … sort of a reddish-gold that’s difficult for the wolves and big cats to see. A white calf stands out like a neon dinner sign.”
“Well … let’s hope the legends are right, Chief,” Ben said. “Let’s hope you’re right and something good happens.” Ben raised his glass and the other two joined him in a toast.
Much more on the birth of Lightning Medicine Cloud here: White Buffalo born on Texas ranch...

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