Environment | National

Native Sun News: Staged white buffalo hunts draw outrage

The following story was written and reported by Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

A proud non-Native hunter poses with his not-so-hard-to-kill “trophy” – a revered white buffalo, or tatanka ska – near Texas Hunt Lodge. In the aftermath of a vociferous attack by Native Americans from near and far, beginning with the Lakota, the lodge abruptly discontinued its pricey white buffalo hunts. PHOTO COURTESY/TEXASHUNTLODGE.COM

HUNT, TEXAS –– A hunting lodge in this small, unincorporated – and fittingly named – community came under fire recently by Native Americans from across the country for its offering of staged white buffalo kills.

Situated in the heart of the Lone Star State, the family-owned Texas Hunt Lodge provides big-game packages to hunting enthusiasts from coast to coast. Rare white buffalo, or bison, packages run upwards of $14,000, according to information once contained on the lodge’s website.

Texas Hunt Lodge, which has been in existence since 2008 and touts access to over 100,000 acres of ranch land, is headed by Aaron Bulkley.

“There are no seasonal restrictions on hunting the White Buffalo, or White Bison, in Texas, which makes it a suitable trophy year round,” proclaims apparently now-excised advertising from the hunting lodge’s website.

Phone calls to the Texas Hunt Lodge by Native Sun News went unanswered.

For centuries, the white buffalo has been a potent symbol of cultural preservation for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples of the Great Plains. Hunting and harvesting the hard-to-find icon is considered sacrilegious by many of these “Buffalo People.”

“The company started the white buffalo hunts about two years ago, and there was a big outcry about it then,” said James Swan, founder and president of the Rapid City-based United Urban Warrior Society.

The lodge acquiesced to pressure from Native Americans at the time and ceased its white buffalo hunts, according to Swan.

“But now it’s started back up again,” he said. “It’s a slap in the face for our people.”

Swan is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“(Texas Hunt Lodge’s) argument now is that they’re technically not white buffalo, but inbred beefalo,” Swan said. “But the thing is, if you go to the pictures of what they claim are beefalo on their website – beefalo look more like a Brahma bull than beef or buffalo – but the pictures, those are buffalo.”

However, there appear to no longer be any remaining images of or references to the white buffalo hunting package on the company’s site. Swan compares the big-game enterprise’s white buffalo safaris to burning the Bible or Quran, both venerated books among Christianity and Islam, respectively.

“If I did that, it’s not going to work – there would be a public outcry about it,” he said.

And on top of that, the hunts are canned, said Swan, meaning the buffalo are entrapped in a confined area so the hunter is guaranteed the hunt, or white buffalo “trophy.”

United Urban Warrior Society wants to expose the lodge for being disrespectful to Native beliefs and a fraud, he said. And the organization has done just that, according to Swan.

Immediately following Swan’s posting of information about Texas Hunt Lodge’s white buffalo package on UUWS’s Facebook page, a stampede of criticism from Natives throughout America made more than just dirt fly.

“The people were just in tears, I mean there was outrage; I even had one guy who said he’d go take care of (Texas Hunt Lodge) and then send me the trigger finger,” Swan said. “People take their religion and their culture seriously.”

For the big-game lodge to blatantly advertise and provide white buffalo hunts as sport is just an invitation for trouble from Native Americans, he said. After Swan’s viral March 4 posting on the social networking site, he said the company removed all photos and information pertaining to white buffalo hunts on its website but continued to offer the sport.

“People just bombarded (Texas Hunt Lodge) with phone calls after their number was posted, and now they won’t answer their phone.”

The ultimate goal of Swan’s organization is “to come up with some kind of federal legislation to put a protective resolution on the white buffalo because of cultural sensitivity for what it is and what it represents,” he said.

According to Swan, there are only around 20 genuine white buffaloes alive in the world today.

Akin to the second coming of Jesus Christ for Christians, the singular white buffalo calf birth long prophesied to signify the imminent return of Ptesan Winyan, or White Buffalo Calf Woman, to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples to restore order is an event that will happen among Natives, not non-Natives, Swan indicated.

“It’s not going to happen to Joe Blow in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Subsequent to his initial interview, Swan informed NSN that Texas Hunt Lodge halted its contrived white buffalo hunts in the wake of thousands of emails and phone calls opposing the practice.

(Contact Jesse Abernathy at editor@nsweekly.com)

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