DALLAS The Fuel City gas station gained attention this weekend for using a white buffalo to promote its business. Now it is facing criticism from Native Americans who say using the animal for commercial purposes is sacrilegious.
"He's exploiting this. He's exploiting our culture, said Yolanda Blue Horse, a Native American activist.
To some Native Americans, the birth of a white buffalo symbolizes how their sacred ceremonies and prayers were handed down to them.
When Blue Horse and others in the local Native American community heard about this white buffalo, they felt Fuel City, a downtown Dallas landmark on Riverfront Boulevard, had gone too far.
Blue Horse called the owner to explain the problem about the animal named Lone Star.
"Our religion, really, ultimately is not to be used as a circus. It's not to be used as a sideshow and 'ooh, come look at what I got,' which is what his words were," she said.
Blue Horse said she has seen this story before, and she doesn't like how it ends.
When a white buffalo was born in Greenville in 2011, Blue Horse voiced deep concerns that its owner was misusing the sacred animal for commercial purposes. It later died of natural causes.
Now, it's happening again, she said.
Even though Lone Star is genetically bred to be white, and not randomly born white, Blue Horse is still offended to see a white buffalo used to sell beer, gas and car washes.
"I think he should return that buffalo back, she said.
Parker Benda, a Fuel City spokesman, said Lone Star stays.
"We're sorry if we accidentally provoked some feelings; that was not our intention, Benda said. "I think it would outweigh the public interest to move the buffalo. So, at this point, yes, we're going to keep the buffalo. And I'm sorry that it offends some people, but I think the vast majority of people would love to come and see Lone Star."
That's not the answer Blue Horse was looking for, and it's not clear what she will do next.
Benda said several hundred people came out last weekend to get a glimpse of Lone Star behind their convenience store.