By William Thompson, Ph.D., Ricardo Gazel, Dan Rickman
A White Buffalo was born August 20, l994, on a farm outside of Janesville: a true White Buffalo, a sacred symbol for many Native Americans. The White Buffalo may be the reincarnated spirit of White Buffalo Calf Woman — who, according to legend, had come to Earth to teach the Native Peoples how to live virtuous lives, how to use the sacred pipe of peace in ceremonies, and how to pray to their creator. Looks for Buffalo is a Native American spiritual interpreter. He maintains that the white calf was born on the farm of a white man as an “omen.” White people, he suggests, are being told that they must pay attention to “what they are losing” by living in modern ways, with modern machinery, and out of touch with “Mother Earth.”
Perhaps it is also time that all modern Wisconsin people — white people and others — take stock over “what they are losing” as well as what they may be gaining due to the appearance of what some have called the Native American’s “New Buffalo” — casino gambling, and its modern money-making machinery.2 Are the financial losses of the white man — and others — at casinos offset by societal gains? Are the losses producing a public good? Should policymakers in Wisconsin endorse the casino gaming and encourage its continuance? Or, should they take steps to modify its effects, or perhaps even to end the activity?
This is a study about a New Buffalo. Not the white calf on Dave Helder’s farm in Wisconsin, but the one that manifested itself with a reincarnation overseeing decks of cards and slot machines in Nekoosa, Red Cliff, Lac du Flambeau, Oneida, Carter, Keshena, and 10 other reservation sites in Wisconsin. This is a study about winners and others who may or may not know “what they are losing.” This is study of the economic impacts of 17 reservation casinos in Wisconsin.