White Buffalo Calf Born at Yellowstone National Park | Environment


Category:  History & Sociology

Via:  kavika  •  one month ago  •  2 comments

By:   Kaili Berg (Native News Online)

White Buffalo Calf Born at Yellowstone National Park | Environment
Last week at Yellowstone National Park, a sacred and rare event took place as a white buffalo calf was born. The occurrence holds deep significance for various Native American tribes, who revere the white buffalo as a powerful symbol of spirituality ...

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


  • Yahoo News

White_Bison_.jpg Details By Kaili Berg June 11, 2024

Last week at Yellowstone National Park, a sacred and rare event took place as a white buffalo calf was born. The occurrence holds deep significance for various Native American tribes, who revere the white buffalo as a powerful symbol of spirituality and hope.

Wildlife photographer Erin Braaten of Dancing Aspens Photo was there to capture the moment, although she just missed witnessing the birth, Braaten captured the photos of a lifetime.

Never miss Indian Country's biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. Native News Online E-Newsletters

  • Native News Today
  • Native News Health Desk

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily, Braaten recounted her initial confusion and later realization of the extraordinary scene unfolding before her.

"We were just driving along, and there were some bison crossing the road," Braaten told Cowboy State Daily. "I was looking back, and I saw what I thought maybe was a coyote."

Upon closer inspection, she discovered it was a white bison calf. Remarkably, it had clearly just been born.

"The afterbirth, the placenta was still there, and the calf was just standing up," Braaten said.

White bison are exceedingly rare and are often considered a sacred symbol among various Native American tribes. The white coloration may result from a genetic mutation known as leucism, which causes patches of white coloration on the skin or fur.

Unlike albinism, which is characterized by a complete lack of melanin, leucistic animals have reduced pigmentation, resulting in white or patchily colored fur while retaining normal eye color.

According to the National Bison Association, there are approximately 500,000 bison in North America, and only about one in every ten million bison born is white.

Among the Lakota people, the white bison holds a special place in their spirituality and traditions. The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman is central to their beliefs.

According to the legend, a white buffalo calf appeared to the Lakota many generations ago and transformed into a beautiful woman who taught them sacred ceremonies and imparted important spiritual knowledge. The White Buffalo Calf Woman promised to return again, signaling a time of peace and harmony.

Other tribes, such as the Cherokee, Sioux, and Mandan, also revere the white bison. For these tribes, the white bison symbolizes purity, spirituality, and the promise of prosperity. It is believed to be a powerful omen and a message from the Creator.

Yellowstone National Park plays a crucial role in the conservation of American bison. Once nearly driven to extinction, bison populations have rebounded due to concerted conservation efforts. The park's bison herd is one of the few remaining that has not been interbred with cattle, preserving their genetic purity.


According to Lakota legend . . . during a time of great famine, two scouts who were sent to hunt buffalo in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota saw something approaching in the distance. At first, they thought it was a white buffalo calf; but as it came closer, they saw it was a beautiful young Indian woman . . .


“Sacred Buffalo” by   Gretchen Del Rio , original watercolor, 2013

“This holy woman brought the sacred buffalo calf pipe to the Sioux. There could be no Indians without it. Before she came, people didn’t know how to live. They knew nothing. The Buffalo Woman put her sacred mind into their minds.” —Chief Crow Dog (1835-1910)

The sacred woman of supernatural origin met with the Lakota people, gave them the sacred pipe, and taught them the “Seven Sacred Rituals” which provided guidelines for living. When she was finished and leaving, she rolled upon the earth four times, changing color each time—from yellow to red to white and finally black—before she disappeared. Almost at the same time, great herds of buffalo were said to have surrounded the camp and, after that day, food was plentiful.


The Gift of the Sacred Pipe

as told to Joseph Epes Brown in   The Sacred Pipe

EARLY ONE MORNING, VERY MANY WINTERS AGO, two Lakota were out hunting with their bows and arrows. As they were standing on a hill looking for game, they saw in the distance something coming towards them in a very strange and wonderful manner. When this mysterious thing came nearer to them, they saw that it was a very beautiful woman, dressed in white buckskin and bearing a bundle on her back.


“The Coming of White Buffalo Calf Woman” by Vera Louise Drysdale, 1976

Now this woman was so good to look at that one of the Lakota had bad intentions and told his friend of his desire. His friend said that he must not have such thoughts for surely this is a wakan (sacred) woman.


“White Buffalo Calf Woman”
by Mary Selfridge, signed giclée print

The mysterious person was now very close to the men; and, putting down her bundle, she asked the one with bad intentions to come over to her. As the young man approached the mysterious woman, they were both covered by a great cloud. Soon, when the cloud lifted, only the sacred woman was standing there. At her feet was the man with the bad thoughts who was now nothing but bones, and terrible snakes were eating him.

Behold what you see! ” the strange woman said to the good man. “ I am coming to your people and wish to talk with your chief Hehlokecha Najin (Standing Hollow Horn). Return to him, and tell him to prepare a large tipi in which he should gather all his people and make ready for my coming. I wish to tell you something of great importance!

The young man then returned to the tipi of his chief and told him all that had happened—that this wakan woman was coming to visit them and that they must all prepare. The chief, Standing Hollow Horn, then had several tipis taken down, and from them a great lodge was made as the sacred woman had instructed. He sent out a crier to tell the people to put on their best buckskin clothes and to gather immediately in the lodge. The people were, of course, all very excited as they waited in the great lodge for the coming of the holy woman, and everybody was wondering where this mysterious woman came from and what it was that she wished to say.

The Sacred Pipe

Soon the young men who were watching for the coming of the wakan person announced that they saw something in the distance approaching them in a beautiful manner.


Detail from “Apparition of the Buffalo Calf Maiden”
by Frithjof Schuon, 1959

Suddenly, she entered the lodge, walked around sun-wise, and stood in front of Standing Hollow Horn. She took from her back the bundle, and holding it with both hands in front of the chief, said: “ Behold this and always love it! It is lela wakan (very sacred), and you must treat it as such. No impure man should ever be allowed to see it, for within this bundle there is a sacred pipe. With this, you will, during the winters to come, send your voices to Wakáŋ-Táŋka, your Father and Grandfather.

After the mysterious woman said this, she took from the bundle a pipe and also a small round stone which she placed upon the ground. Holding the pipe up with its stem to the heavens, she said: “ With this sacred pipe, you will walk upon the Earth, for the Earth is your Grandmother and Mother, and She is sacred. Every step that is taken upon Her should be as a prayer. The bowl of this pipe is of red stone; it is the Earth. Carved in the stone and facing the center is this buffalo calf who represents all the four-leggeds who live upon your Mother. The stem of the pipe is of wood and this represents all that grows upon the Earth. And these twelve feathers which hang here, where the stem fits into the bowl, are from Wanbli Galeska, the Spotted Eagle, and they represent the eagle and all the wingeds of the air. All these peoples, and all the things of the universe, are joined to you who smoke the pipe—all send their voices to Wakáŋ-Táŋka, the Great Spirit. When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.

The wakan woman then touched the foot of the pipe to the round stone which lay upon the ground, and said: “ With this pipe, you will be bound to all your relatives; your Grandfather and Father, your Grandmother and Mother. This round rock, which is made of the same red stone as the bowl of the pipe, your Father Wakáŋ-Táŋka has also given to you. It is the Earth, your Grandmother and Mother, and it is where you will live and increase. This Earth which He has given to you is red, and the two-leggeds who live upon the Earth are red; and the Great Spirit has also given to you a red day, and a red road.

All of this is sacred, and so do not forget! Every dawn, as it comes, is a holy event; and every day is holy, for the light comes from your Father Wakáŋ-Táŋka; and also you must always remember that the two-leggeds and all the other peoples who stand upon this earth are sacred and should be treated as such.

From this time on, the holy pipe will stand upon this red Earth, and the two-leggeds will take the pipe and will send their voices to Wakáŋ-Táŋka.

The Seven Sacred Rites

The wakan woman continued: “ These seven circles which you see on the stone have much meaning, for they represent the seven rites in which the pipe will be used. The first large circle represents the first rite which I shall give to you, and the other six circles represent the rites which will, in time, be revealed to you directly.

Standing Hollow Horn, be good to these gifts and to your people, for they are wakan! With this pipe, the two-leggeds will increase, and there will come to them all that is good. From above Wakáŋ-Táŋka has given to you this sacred pipe, so that through it you may have knowledge. For this great gift you should always be grateful! But now before I leave I wish to give to you instructions for the first rite in which your people will use this pipe.

  1. Wanáǧi Yuhápi—The Keeping of The Soul
  2. Haŋbléčeyapi—The Vision Quest
  3. Wiwáŋyaŋg Wačípi—The Sun Dance
  4. Huŋkápi—The Making of Relatives
  5. Inípi—The Sweat Lodge
  6. Išnáti Awíčalowaŋpi—Preparing a Girl for Womanhood
  7. Tápa Waŋkáyeyapi—Throwing the Ball

From “Lakota Religious Traditions,” Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition, pp. 5295-5298.   DOWNLOAD

It should be for you a sacred day when one of your people dies. You must then keep his soul as I shall teach you, and through this you will gain much power; for if this soul is kept, it will increase in you your concern and love for your neighbor. So long as the person, in his soul, is kept with your people, through him you will be able to send your voice to Wakáŋ-Táŋka.

It should also be a sacred day when a soul is released and returns to its home, Wakáŋ-Táŋka, for on this day four women will be made holy, and they will in time bear children who will walk the path of life in a sacred manner, setting an example for your people. Behold me, for it is I that they will take in their mouths, and it is through this that they will become wakan.

He who keeps the soul of a person must be a good and pure man, and he should use the pipe so that all the people, with the soul, will together send their voices to Wakáŋ-Táŋka. The fruit of your Mother the Earth and the fruit of all that She bears will be blessed in this manner, and your people will then walk the path of life in a sacred way.

Do not forget that Wakáŋ-Táŋka has given you seven days in which to send your voices to Him. So long as you remember this, you will live; the rest you will know from Wakáŋ-Táŋka directly.


Artwork by
Vera Louise Drysdale

The Prophecy


“White Buffalo Calf Woman”
by   Jay Bell Redbird , 2017

The sacred woman then started to leave the lodge, but turning again to Standing Hollow Horn, she said:   “Behold this pipe! Always remember how sacred it is, and treat it as such, for it will take you to the end. Remember, in me there are four ages. I am leaving now, but I shall look back upon your people in every age, and at the end I shall return.”

Moving around the lodge in a sun-wise manner, the mysterious woman left, but after walking a short distance she looked back towards the people and sat down.

When she rose the people were amazed to see that she had become a young red-and-brown buffalo calf. Then this calf walked farther, lay down, and rolled, looking back at the people, and when she got up she was a white buffalo. Again the white buffalo walked farther and rolled on the ground, becoming now a black buffalo. This buffalo then walked farther away from the people, stopped, and after bowing to each of the four quarters of the universe, disappeared over the hill.


Artwork by   Aaron Paquette

No definitive version of the story exists . . . The legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman shifts and shapes itself to the people.   It grows   and adapts. The story was handed down through oral tradition, and it has changed over time and will continue to change. What most versions agree on, though, is . . .

White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the sacred pipe. She brought meaning, essence, life, and spirituality to the people. She brought hope.

Red Box Rules




jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     one month ago

The birth of a white buffalo calf is monumental to a number of tribes.

Professor Participates
2  1stwarrior    one month ago

Absolutely love when you give lessons for all to learn from :-)



Who is online

23 visitors