For many of us who live in the Pickens County, Georgia area, we know Chipa Wolfe and Thunder. Just the idea of this huge buffalo being seen around our community was a little frightening but so cool because he was so unique and not every community had a buffalo living there. Well with sad news, I inform you that Thunder has passed away…
Per Chipa Wolfe…THUNDER passed in his sleep in the dark of this early Wednesday summer morning and I struggle to share my grief but will ventilate with a alihalisdi agaska (A Happy Rain) as I grow from these tears I shed. Behind the rain on my face I have the early morning sunshine trying to beam through in the form of great laughter and sometimes exhilarating but healthy fear derived from places I alone had placed myself as a little guy up against this monstrous beast of a friend. Many of you knew him on a personal basis up close and many of my other friends knew him in passing such as a PowWow where he served as an educator for his specie. However, anyone that knew him… knew him as extra huge for any buffalo as he was right up until the past couple years of his elderly stage. Even with that, he remained majestic and prideful.
Thunder loved to go to PowWows and kids loved him when we did our school programs. He truly loved to go places and could not wait to jump on the trailer and go…. Hence, ROLLING THUNDER! Nothing shook him as he was as well mannered and easy going at a PowWow with drums a roar as he was at a biker rally with Harley’s Full Throttle.
However, with that said…. Thunder was 100% bull buffalo (bison) and he would be a handful in his younger years much like myself. He and I have both chilled over the years but when I met him this morning to feed him and he did not stroll up to meet me, I knew the time had come as I found him sitting up at the exact place where I would have laid him to rest where he had taken his very last breath. Thunder died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack and I will miss him with all of my heart. Thank you folks for being so kind as my composure is dwindling fast.
He was an extra large buffalo and an equally majestic friend as he followed me about and our family knew him as just that, FAMILY and he comprises many a funny and sometimes adrenaline pumping stories that go back 23 years starting on the 5th day of his birth when I picked him up and we raised him on a bottle. Native activist Dennis Banks was chased up into the back of my truck by Thunder when they were both younger and Thunder jumped right up there behind him forcing Dennis on top of the truck. Native recording artist Bill Miller is on video running laps on the farm trying to dodge a playfully dangerous 2,000 pound Thunder and Cleto Humpkoodra Montelongo and all of his kids were climbing trees to escape his thundering stomp through the woods where Thunder simply wanted to walk to the lake with us.
Many stories and much love contributed to this friend of ours. Thunder would have been 23 years old in a couple of weeks, which is super elderly and almost unheard of in the world of bison and he will be missed dearly. Thunder lived a long and exciting life and in a perfect world. I would have rather him have lived on the open plains running with his people (Buffalo Nation) and littering the plains with his offspring for something other than a meat product but rather a viable resident of our Earth in which we shared fairly. Its not a perfect world nor was his stay on it, but I feel confident that he lived his life to its fullest with what we had to offer and that he felt loved in doing so.
If I were to check out tomorrow, I too can feel as I believe he did and Thunder lent to my happiness in a manner that I could never ever describe. Thank you Creator for the privilege of feeling something that many humans only know the sound of….THUNDER!
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chipa and his family for their loss and for the people of Pickens County and for all who knew Thunder, God Bless Him!