GREENVILLE — Arby Little Soldier Wednesday disputed the findings of a Hunt County Sheriff’s Office investigation which claimed a sacred white buffalo calf and its mother died of natural causes, rather than by violence, at his ranch near Greenville.
“It is kind of hard to accept all that,” Little Soldier said during a press conference at the Lakota Ranch, during which he took exception to the sheriff’s report that said Lightning Medicine Cloud and Buffalo Woman had died of black leg, a bacterial infection.
And Little Soldier maintained that the calf had been skinned when he was found at the ranch in April.
“The way he was desecrated, it was pure demonic,” Little Soldier said.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said Wednesday that according to a veterinarian’s report, both buffalo appeared to have died from black leg, adding that the evidence revealed Lightning Medicine Cloud had not been skinned.
Meeks said no criminal charges were expected to be filed.
“I think that it was an easy way to close the case and forget about it,” Little Soldier said. “If that’s where they are with this case, then we need to step up and take it further.”
Little Soldier explained that when he found Lightning Medicine Cloud’s body, there was some hide and fur remaining on the buffalo’s hind legs.
“Everything else was gone from the neck back,” he said.
Meeks said deputies were dispatched to the Lakota Ranch west of Greenville on May 3 in connection with the deaths of both buffalo, noting Lightning Medicine Cloud was deceased at least six days and buried for three days prior to his department being notified.
Little Soldier said he was advised by Lakota Sioux elders to perform the burial before contacting authorities.
“I couldn’t leave him exposed,” Little Soldier said. “That was at the elder’s request.”
Arby criticized the sheriff’s investigators for not testing for blood traces near where the calf was found, a test he said he performed after the deputies had left.
“You could see the blood along that fence where the drippings were,” Little Soldier said.
Little Soldier was asked whether the buffalo had been vaccinated against black leg.
“Ordinarily your buffalo don’t get inoculations,” he said, adding the shots require special equipment to hold the animal in place. He believed two other buffalo which had died at the ranch had been poisoned, but added a veterinarian would be brought to the site to check on the remaining buffalo for black leg.
Little Soldier disputed claims that he profited from the money promised as a reward for information leading to the arrest of whomever killed Lightning Medicine Cloud, indicating that the funds were all listed as pledges.
“It was never put in our account,” he said. The only money which did change hands, Little Soldier explained, was approximately $5,000 in donations toward the Native American Pow Wow at the ranch, which was to have also served as Lightning Medicine Cloud’s birthday celebration. “All that is squared away.”
Little Soldier said there was no insurance policy on the buffalo, as he could not afford the $10,000 premium required from Lloyd’s of London for the $100,000 policy.
He said he will be contacting Native American legal officials in the near future, to determine what course of action to take concerning the case. Little Soldier said he was also waiting on information from the sheriff’s office concerning the investigation, including the veterinarian’s report.
“I want to read up on where this scenario is,” he said, adding that people should still consider the birth of the rare white buffalo as a cherished event.
“Lightning Medicine Cloud was born on this ranch as a blessing,” Little Soldier said. “That blessing has to carry on.”
Shortly after news broke about Lightning Medicine Cloud’s death, an Oregon ranch offered to donate an adult white male buffalo to the ranch.
Little Soldier said he was waiting for the investigation into the death to be complete before making arrangements to bring the buffalo, named Hiawatha, to Texas.
“Eventually we are going to bring them down,” he said.
Little Soldier said there had been apparent recent acts of vandalism at the ranch, claiming there are often cars parked just outside of the ranch along U.S. Highway 380, with people looking down onto the property.
During the press conference, Blue Horse stood in silence but immediately afterward started shouting that Little Soldier had not been telling the truth. Blue Horse said she was one of seven people whom Little Soldier claimed could have killed Lightning Medicine Cloud.
“I think it is important to know we are not like him,” Blue Horse said, arguing that Little Soldier was “not an Indian in his heart.”
Blue Horse also denied that the burial of the buffalo was at the request of Lakota elders, explaining that the law enforcement authorities should have been called immediately.
“That is what they would do if one of our people was found,” Blue Horse said. “That is not the way you handle something so sacred.”
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