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Remembering Byron Buffalo by Mike Lassiter

Byron Buffalo’s sudden death certainly came as a shock to all who knew him. Yes, we wonder why Byron and why now?  The horse program was just really beginning to gain the attention and traction that Byron had dreamed about. So, Jordan Groves, Jasmine Kaduce, and I made the trip to Eagle Butte for the wake and funeral as well as the burial at the cemetery behind the church he served in Bridger. Others were there from the network of churches that have come alongside Byron, his church and the people of Bridger. The UCC Church was well represented, and hundreds of people from the Cheyenne River Reservation were also there to say goodbye to a good man, a man who followed Jesus the Lakota way, and a man who had a big heart for the children and teenagers of the Reservation.  

Below are some of my remarks spoken at the funeral on behalf of his friends at Second Baptist Church.  

It is an honor to have the opportunity to speak at Byron’s funeral. I represent Second Baptist Church and other churches that have had the privilege of walking alongside Byron and Toni and the people of the community of Bridger.  

Over 17 years ago a group of churches met with some pastors of the Dakota Association. After talking and sharing with each other for a couple of days we found a kindred spirit in each other. A spirit that told us that Creator God loves each and every person the same through Jesus and that we could start our journey together at that important point and see what happens. From the beginning, we listened to Byron’s dream that Creator God had given him early in his journey of faith as his life began to change. The dream involved what Byron knew about God and the church both wanting “healing and reconciliation for all of creation,” Byron’s words.  The healing and reconciliation involved Lakota people with Creator, with each other,  and white people, especially those who were Christian. Byron had a way of saying things that would stir your heart. We don’t thank God enough for putting people in our lives that have dreams that also speak to us in a way that helps us along our own faith journey.

Horses were a big part of that dream because it would help others, especially kids and teens, be proud of being Lakota. Horses would also help Lakota and others who came to the Bridger Church, including many of us, to find a good path to Creator God.  

One thing that knowing Byron taught many of us was to believe anything was possible and so don’t give in to doubts. He was a spiritual and life guide for many and didn’t just tell you what you should be doing but could nudge you along a path that would help you discover for yourself what you need to know and do.
As we continued to travel to Bridger each year Byron would allow us to make mistakes or say the wrong thing and he and Toni would guide us rather than shame us. He wanted us to see and understand Lakota ways and see the wisdom and beauty in Lakota tradition and culture.  

I am so glad that he was able to see some of this dream beginning to come to a reality. I am so glad he was patient with us. I am so glad he accepted us. Today I mourn and say goodbye to a Lakota man of God, a fellow traveler in the Jesus way, a fellow minister, and like you, a friend and friendship I will always cherish.

Posted by Mike Lassiter at 6:00 AM
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