The Meaning of the Sacred White Buffalo

May 9, 2012 | Blog, Native American Heritage Month

When a white buffalo calf, a male calf named Lightning Medicine Cloud, and its mother were slaughtered this week at Native-owned Lakota Ranch in Texas, Indian Country was outraged. This is because white buffalo are not only rare (according to the National Bison Association, just one out of every 10 million buffalo born are white), but they are considered sacred amongst many Native tribes.

According to information on Lakota Ranch’s web site, the reason for this harkens back to many years ago, when the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Sioux came together and camped during the summer. The people were starving because there was no game. Two young men went out to look for food for their people in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Along the way, a beautiful young woman dressed in white appeared to them, saying, “Return to your people and tell them I am coming.” When she presented herself to the Lakota people with the sacred pipe which showed how all things were connected, she taught them the mysteries of the earth. She taught them to pray and follow the proper path while on earth.

Then, before leaving, she rolled upon the earth four times, changing color each time, turning into a white buffalo calf before she disappeared. As she left, great herds of buffalo surrounded the camps. After that day the Lakota honored their pipe and buffalo were plentiful.

The Lakota and other tribes believed that a white buffalo is the most sacred living thing on earth. In addition, many buffalo change colors as they age, and those colors must be interpreted by a holy man.

The American buffalo or bison is a symbol of abundance and manifestation, and the lesson learned by the Lakota that day is that one does not have to struggle to survive if the right action is joined by the right prayer. The birth of a sacred white buffalo is a sign of hope and an indication of good times to come. For many American Indians, the birth of a white buffalo calf is the most significant of prophetic signs, equivalent to many Christian signs such as weeping statues.

Tell us: Do you feel the deliberate killing of an animal thought to be sacred by Natives is a hate crime?

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