The Janesville Gazette
Miracle 'will be missed'
Published Sunday, September 26, 2004
By Dan Hinkel/Gazette Staff
Adam O. Webster said he believes peace will come someday.
He said the hope the white buffalo brought to so many isn't gone.
"There will be changes made," he said. "It's something out there that we can rely on."
The 63-year-old Webster, a member of the Oneida tribe, came from Green Bay with his brothers Cletus and Ken to Dave and Valerie Heider's farm on River Road in Janesville.
Webster heard over coffee Saturday morning that Miracle, the buffalo born snowy-white, died last week.
By early afternoon, he sat in the farm's gift shop, talking to Valerie Heider.
Webster has grown older than his years since 1994. He said he slept on the ground at the Heider farm after Miracle was born.
He helped build fires, worked security and interpreted the meanings of Indian customs for curious visitors, he said.
Now, he moves with a metal walker. Ulcers on his feet slow him to a shuffle.
He looks past people when he talks.
"I can't see you," he said, and paused. "'Cause I'm blind."
He went blind a few years ago.
Webster smiles often, showing white teeth that shine with his long black and gray hair.
He said he needed to see the prophecy-fulfilling white buffalo for himself in 1994.
"If this is true, then we should be down here," he said he thought then.
"I felt real good to be there," he said of the Heiders' exotic animal farm.
Kat Moczek of Antioch, Ill., said she's confused about how to feel about the buffalo's death.
"I feel like I don't know what's next," she said. "She will be missed."
Miracle died last Sunday, Sept. 19, after an illness. Dave Heider said he did not tell the media because he and his wife were leaving for a business trip and wanted to keep flocks of visitors from their farm while they were away.
Miracle animated the Indian community when she was born on Aug. 20, 1994.
The Sioux believe her coming foreshadows a time of peace.
Dave Heider said Miracle died of natural causes, and that no autopsy was performed.
"We didn't feel as though that was necessary," he said. "Someday we'll find out why God took her."
He said his phone has been besieged with condolences.
"I think the answering machine quits at 50," he said.
Dave Heider worked with a backhoe Saturday, tidying the area around Miracle's grave, which is next to the buffalo's father's grave on the farm.
He said Miracle's death wrenched his emotions.
"I couldn't handle to be up here," he said of the grave, which will be marked with some kind of gravestone soon.
"It's like a death in the family," he said.
He said Miracle, like all American bison, was biologically a wild animal. He said she was tough to approach.
"The thing I haven't figured out yet is how you come to love an animal you can't touch," he said.
Heider said owning the potent religious symbol and harbinger of peace stressed his family.
"It's been very hard on our life and on our marriage and on our kids," he said.
He said he expects visitors to keep flowing.
"She didn't belong to us; she belonged to the whole world," he said. "When she was born, we were told even when she died people would continue to come."
Inside the gift shop, Webster bought Miracle postcards.
Valerie Heider said Indians from South Dakota were packing Saturday for the trip to the farm. She said she doesn't know when they will arrive, or what ceremonies they will perform.
Webster said he will burn special Iriquois Confederacy tobacco at the grave.
"We'll be thanking the creator for giving us time on the Earth," he said. "We'll have thanked the creator and thanked Miracle."
He said the world should thank the white buffalo.
"The death of Miracle should now cause a beginning of the people to start coming together," he said.
Webster said peace "won't be overnight."
He encapsulated the last 10 years with three words.
"This was good."