White buffalo are sacred to many Native Americans. The Lakota (Sioux) Nation has passed down the legend of the White Buffalo, a story that is approximately 2,000 years old, at many council meetings, sacred ceremonies, and through the tribe’s storytellers. There are several variations, but all are meaningful, and tell of the same outcome … have communication with the Creator through prayer with clear intent for Peace, Harmony and Balance for all life living in the Earth Mother.
The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman tells how the People had lost the ability to communicate with the Creator. The Creator sent the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman to teach the People how to pray with the Pipe. With that Pipe, seven sacred ceremonies were given for the people to abide to ensure a future with harmony, peace, and balance.
Legend says that long ago, two young men were out hunting when from out of nowhere came a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. One of the hunters looked upon her and recognizing her as a wakan, or sacred being, and lowered his eyes. The second hunter approached her with lust in his eyes desiring her for his woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman beckoned the lustful warrior to her, and as he approached a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust settled, nothing but a pile of bones lay next to her. As she walked toward the respectful young hunter, she explained to him that she had merely fulfilled the other man’s desire, allowing him, within that brief moment, to live a lifetime, die, and decay.
White Buffalo Calf Woman instructed the young man to go back to the People and tell them to prepare for her arrival to teach them of the way to pray. The young hunter obeyed. When White Buffalo Calf woman arrived with the sacred bundle (the prayer pipe) she taught the People of the seven sacred ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include: the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind, and spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one’s life; and the Sundance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People.
When the teaching of the sacred ways was complete, White Buffalo Calf Woman told the people she would again return for the sacred bundle that she left with them. Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the People in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land. She walked a short distance, she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose, they were amazed to see she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signaling the fulfillment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.
The changing of the four colors of the White Buffalo Calf Woman represents the four colors of man–white, yellow, red and black. These colors also represent the four directions, north, east, south and west. The sacred bundle that was left to the Lakota people is still with the People in a sacred place on the Cheyenne River Indian reservation in South Dakota. It is kept by a man known as the Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, Arvol Looking Horse.
In today’s world of confusion and war, many of us are looking for signs of peace.
“With the return of the White Buffalo it is a sign that prayers are being heard, that the sacred pipe is being honored, and that the promises of prophecy are being fulfilled. White Buffalo signals a time of abundance and plenty.”
Further notes regarding Native American Spirituality:
Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Traditional Native American ceremonial ways can vary widely and are based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans, and bands. Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes, and even small bands, as each having their own religious practices.
Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, shamanistic, pantheistic or any combination thereof. Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories, and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one’s family and community.