Thursday, August 02, 2012

White Buffaloed

I am quite sure that I am not the only Baby Boomer who was delighted to hear that a rare white buffalo was recently born. (As a New Englander, there are bonus points attached: the calf was born in Connecticut, not exactly the terrain one associates with thundering bison herds. Most of the thundering herds in that state are on the commuter trains back and forth-ing between Greenwich and Manhattan.)

Anyway, the white buffalo is sacred to Native Americans, a delegation of whom traveled from South Dakota last week for the ceremony at which this bouncing baby boy was named Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy. (The DNA report is still out, but Peter Fay, the farmer, believes that the calf is 100% bison, not adulterated by any intermingling with cattle.)

A white buffalo calf, says Jace DeCory, a Lakota who’s also from South Dakota, "is a sign of rebirth. It's a good omen. We feel good when white bison are born, because it reaffirms our belief that things will be better for our nation and for our people."

Hmmmm.  Wish we (as in the larger U.S. of We) had something that “reaffirms our belief that things will be better for our nation and for our people.” (I guess as long as we have American Idol and Super Bowl…)

Anyway, the birth of a white buffalo is a one in 10 million occurrence. The last one born in the USA, Lightning Medicine Cloud, was born last year in Texas.

…leaders of the Lakota Nation believe the crime "was committed by at least seven people of Native American tribes other than Lakota." And they're warning that if authorities don't arrest someone soon they may, in the words of ranch owner Little Soldier, "bring those people [suspects] and give them to them right there on the courthouse steps if we have to.” (Source: NPR.)

Really now, what motivates “at least seven people” to gore the ox, or, in this case, kill the sacred cow bison of some other group. Apparently, for some folks, life, while nasty and brutish, is not short enough. A pox on the house of those who killed Lightning Medicine Cloud. This little critter should have been spared, if for no other reason than he had such a wonderful name.

Let’s hope that Peter Fay is more successful in keeping little Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy alive. With luck, Connecticut will be out of reach for “people of Native American tribes other than Lakota” who might want to harm a little dogie. (I really can’t see the Connecticut Mohegans, Pequots, Nipmunks, and Podunks killing a baby buffalo.)

Which now brings me back to the reason why Baby Boomers -  whose woefully scant knowledge of Indian lore comes from reciting Hiawatha (or at least this much of it: By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis…); giving and receiving Indian burns; and making crude mini-birch bark canoes for school projects – may know a bit about the Legend of the White Buffalo.

And that’s because, when not memorizing Hiawatha or giving/receiving Indian burns, we were watching truly crappy Westerns on TV. Forget the prime time dramatic works like Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, and Bonanza. We’re talking the snappy half-hour shows aimed at kids: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Range Rider, Annie Oakley and Rin-Tin-Tin.

Yo, Rinty was never my prime favorite. Range Rider’s sidekick, Dick West, The All American Boy, was far cuter than anyone or anything on Rin-Tin-Tin. And I also had a mild crush on Annie Oakley’s erstwhile beau, Lofty Craig.

But, as an All American Kid in my own right, I was a regular watcher of Rin-Tin-Tin, which focused on the life of Rusty, an orphan adopted by the soldiers in a cavalry post, and his German Shepherd. I never liked Rusty all that much – he had a rather annoying voice, for one thing – but I was rather fond of Lt. Rip Masters, who had more or less adopted Rusty and Rinty.

And who, in one of the more memorable episodes – perhaps the only memorable episode – warbled a tune about the white buffalo so that, even in those pre-educational TV days, us rug rats couldd learn something.

It does NOT get much better than this.

But wait, it does get much better: in this episode, Rusty is spared from being trampled in a buffalo stampede by the appearance of the white buffalo.

If there are any out there who continue to maintain that the 1950’s were the Golden Age of Television, I humbly submit the above clip.

All this said, I am very happy to learn of the birth of a little white buffalo, practically in my own back yard. If only because it has been years since I thought of  my quasi heart-throb, Lt. Rip Masters, singing this song.

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