Tatanka Oyate Mani

They Walk for the Buffalo People


A Letter to President Clinton


My name is Rosalie Little Thunder. I am of the Sicangu band of the Lakota Nation. I hold no position of power and I hold no wealth, but I do have an important message for you.

Historically, the buffalo were critically essential to our survival and were the center of our culture. We hold them sacred (we, who hold fast to the laws and sacredness of the natural world). For many of our people, especially our elders, the slaughter was a horrendous tragedy, reminding us of similar massacres of our people in the not-so-distant past. I am a descendant-survivor of two massacres: the 1855 Little Thunder massacre in Nebraska (within the boundaries of the 1851 treaty territory) and the Sand Creek massacre ten years later. But that is not unique; all native people in this country have haunting massacre histories.

In the late 1800's, 60 million or more buffalo were mindlessly slaughtered, in a very deliberate, calculated move to starve and conquer the native people. The buffalo were slaughtered, we were slaughtered, the buffalo are being slaughtered again....

Like the two sides of the buffalo/Indian-head nickel, we are synonymous; two sides of a single coin. We, and the buffalo, share a common history that we dare not forget. We may be generations and miles removed from the buffalo, but according to the wisdom of thousands of years of existence in the natural world and interdependence with the buffalo, we hold a belief; a prophecy of an inseparable destiny.

Surely, as a leader, you must at least understand the challenge of being responsible for not only the people, here and now, but also for future generations. "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact upon the 7th generation" was the challenge of our traditional leadership. If the sacredness of the buffalo is so difficult a concept to understand, then consider this: science recognizes the buffalo as a keystone species of the ecosystem and like us, who serve as "miners' canaries" for humanity, the buffalo too serve as such for the natural world that sustains us all.

If this land could support 60 million plus buffalo that were almost completely exterminated, save for those very few that sought refuge in Yellowstone, then we have yet to comprehend, to experience the full impact of their absence.

It is happening all over again. Beneath the layers of pathological politics, once that smokescreen of disease is blown away, you will find that same brutal violence that this country was built upon. Mr. President, that violence is not just a faint memory in family history, I've been in Yellowstone, I have seen it.

You have signed an executive order, directing your agencies and departments to consult with tribes in matters that affect them. The buffalo are of historic, cultural, and religious significance and we have not been consulted in a meaningful manner. We have not even been participants on the Environment Impact Study team. As the leader who affixed his name on that Executive Order, you must honor Government to Government Relations and tribal consultation in determining the fate of the sacred buffalo; your national symbol.

We remain in Yellowstone with many friends; peaceful but determined guardians of the buffalo. Ho, hecetu!

Rosalie Little Thunder


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For information
Please email Rosalie


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Walk to Save the Buffalo
A Letter from Rosalie Little Thunder
Tentative Schedule of the Sacred Walk
Personal Statements of Support
A Letter to President Clinton


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