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Quapaw Way in Action: Tribe Replenishes Bison Herd Lost to Unthinkable Cruelty


Executive Director, Trenton Stand, Members of the Quapaw Nation Business Committee and the Rethke's

The Quapaw Nation shows the meaning of the Quapaw Way by replenishing Bill Rethke’s bison herd after losing three in an act of animal cruelty. The Owasso man lost three bison on November 14 after unowned assailants killed the animals.


A knife was found at the scene of the crime. Rethke is working with the Department of Agriculture and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to find the criminals and is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading up to the arrest. The DOA gathered evidence at the scene, looking at tire tracks, fingerprints, and possible shell casings.


While the heinous acts of animal cruelty have been a lot to bear, Rethke chooses to focus on the community support that has come from the act. He says the outpouring of support from the community is overwhelming. People stopped by his home, called, and left cards and gifts, but Rethke said there wasn't really anything else they could do.


Upon hearing of the news, the Quapaw Nation Business Committee got with Trenton Stand, Executive Director of Resource Management for the Quapaw Nation to see how the tribe could help Rethke in his time of need.


"As soon as the Business Committee asked if we had the availability to do it, we were all on board with making it happen," said Stand. "Everybody on the Business Committee was sympathetic, I think because they understand what it takes to develop and try to bring back bison."



Rethke reminisced about the time he had with his herd, talking about the times he was able to pet them and feed the animals directly out of his hands. The outreach from the Quapaw Nation and the surrounding community has meant so much to him.


“It’s awesome,” said Rethke. “I can make a lot more money on the beef end of it, but everyone comes out and they look at the buffalo and it’s a cool deal. That’s the reason why I do it, and I love messing with them.”


Hailing from South Dakota, Rethke's fascination with buffalo began during his time insulating a man's house in Colorado. These majestic creatures stood out so much at that point he decided he wanted to own his own herd one day. For the past three decades, Rethke has called Oklahoma home, dedicating his time to caring for his buffalo herd.


Grateful for the help of the Quapaw Nation, Rethke does not know how to repay the tribe for their generosity.


"They don't sell any of theirs because they use it all for their own people," said Rethke. "For them to give up three of them... I mean, that's taking from their whole tribe, so it means a lot."


Anyone with information on the crime is encouraged to call the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office at 918-596-5600. Those responsible for the crime will face felony animal cruelty charges with other potential charges being included.


"I'm not gonna stop until they're caught. It's just not going to happen," said Rethke. "I'm your worst nightmare at this point."


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