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A Rare White Buffalo Calf Arrives in Yellowstone With a Message

USA Rare White Buffalo Calf Arrives in Yellowstone With a Message


With the arrival of a white buffalo calf, Earth is at a crossroads, the legend holds.

For the Lakota people, the birth of the calf earlier this month fulfills a prophecy and is a sacred symbol, but it is also a warning “that a spiritual awakening must happen,” said Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and the Nakota Oyate in South Dakota, who led a ceremony and celebration in honor of the calf’s birth on Wednesday in Yellowstone.

The calf’s name, which was revealed at the celebration, is Wakan Gli, meaning “Comes Holy/Returns Sacred.”

According to the Lakota legend, the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared over 3,000 years ago to two scouts who were sitting on a hill, Chief Looking Horse said. She carried a buffalo robe in her arms, and she used supernatural powers to turn one of the scouts, who had impure thoughts, to bones. The other scout, who she said “had a good mind,” was told to return to his people to tell them that she was bringing a sacred gift, Chief Looking Horse said.

The next day, the woman was seen walking toward the center of the camp carrying a bundle that held a sacred pipe, Chief Looking Horse said. The holy woman taught the people how to pray, and she said that in time they would “know more about this sacred pipe.”

As she left, she walked west up a hill and stopped, before rolling over and standing up, having transformed into a young black buffalo. She rolled over a second time, and became a red young buffalo; and a third time, turning into a yellow one. Then, she rolled over a fourth time, stopping near the top of the hill as a white buffalo calf with black eyes, black hooves, and a black nose, the legend goes.

Chief Looking Horse, who is also the 19th keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe and Bundle, said that the woman said to the people “the next time I stand upon the Earth as a white buffalo calf that nothing will be good no more.” He explained that the prophecy warns that when the white buffalo calf stands on the Earth again many white animals will be born all over the world, “because Mother Earth is sick and has a fever, and she’s going to speak to these white animals for peace and harmony.”

“That’s what the message was that this pipe, the sacred pipe, is about peace and harmony,” he said.

Chief Looking Horse recounted his dread after the birth of a white buffalo calf in 1994 in Janesville, Wis., noting that it came as the world was awakening to global warming. In 1993, Indigenous spiritual leaders had met at the United Nations to warn of climate change at the Cry of the Earth Conference.

And so it is with the birth of the white buffalo calf in Yellowstone that we find ourselves at a crossroads, Chief Looking Horse said, calling it “the second coming,” and adding that his grandmother said on her deathbed that he would be the last sacred bundle keeper “if the people don’t straighten up.”

Either we face global disasters, illness and false leaders, he said, “or we can unite globally.”

The American bison or buffalo, as they have been called by Indigenous peoples for hundreds of years, is a deeply important and sacred animal for many Native Americans. Tens of millions of buffaloes once roamed North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but the mass slaughter of buffaloes in the 1800s caused their numbers to dwindle to just a few hundred by 1889.

The indiscriminate and systematic killing of bison was rooted in racist ideology and carelessness for the natural world. According to the Buffalo Field Campaign, a group working to “stop the harassment and slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo,” European settlers saw “the survival of buffalo as a means of perpetuating the ways of Native American life; they saw the buffalo as being incompatible with their dream of a Great Plains cattle culture.”

The near-total destruction of the bison proved devastating for Native Americans, who had for thousands of years relied on the animal for everything from clothing and food to shelter, tools and in ceremonies.

Jim Matheson, executive director of the National Bison Association, said that the calf, with its dark eyes, black hooves and black nose, appears to be a rare white buffalo, lacking the pink tones of an albino animal.

“This is the first I’ve heard at least of a white buffalo being born in Yellowstone,” Mr. Matheson said in an interview, calling its birth “very exciting” because it comes from a “closed herd.” That means the herd only breeds among itself and doesn’t mix with cattle, which can introduce genetic mutations that increase the likelihood of a white calf being born.

Chief Looking Horse said that the calf’s birth to the wild herd in Yellowstone brought tears to his eyes.

“This is all so overwhelming,” he said, adding he believes the prophecy shows now is the time that people around the world must unite and become better stewards of the planet.

“We live in a time when everything’s about money,” Chief Looking Horse said.

”You have to think about your own children,” he said. “Mother Earth is a source of life, not a resource.”



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