“Historically the buffalo had more influence on man than all other Plains animals combined. It was life, food, raiment, and shelter to the Indians. The buffalo and the Plains Indians lived together, and together passed away. The year 1876 marks practically the end of both.” Walter Prescott Webb, historian
As mentioned in our previous post, the second coming of the white buffalo holds a promise of the return of a way of life which existed in the Americas for centuries before the Europeans came with their cultural elitism, advanced weaponry, their sectarian religion and the maladies of decimation. The bucolic ways of agrarian life were replaced by settlements which raped the flora and fauna of the Americas.
The buffalo which roamed the plains in the millions fell victim to the avarice of hunters and buyers. Buffalo tongues became the new delicacy as well as the coats made from the fallen animal for the latest Eastern wear.
Added to the mixture the .50-caliber Sharp rifle became the means of decimating the bison herds faster, especially as “sportsmen” shot the creatures from train cars, and hunters traversed the plains. The plains inhabitants watched this horror as their buffalo, which served them in many ways, were killed and left to rot in the Summer sun.
At rail stations the skulls of tens of thousands of buffalo could be seen. The people of the plains did not understand the “white man’s” fun of killing just for sport.
This tendency for sport hunting would find new avenues in the decades to come; Africa, with its vast resources of wildlife, would see the destruction of species which is unmatched since the great extinction events of the past. All was done in the name of sport hunting for trophies and the sheer pleasure of killing.
Isak Dinesen, (Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke) author of Out of Africa wrote
“Out on the Safaris, I had seen a herd of Buffalo, one hundred and twenty-nine of them, come out of the morning mist under a copper sky, one by one, as if the dark and massive, iron-like animals with the mighty horizontally swung horns were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished.”
We are sure that the people of the plains felt the same sense of awe and wonder for their buffalo herds as the Baroness did for her cape buffalos. There must have been something mystical in watching the vast herds migrate across the plains in the rising of the sun.
Unfortunately, the sunset of the buffalo came to its tragic end as it did for the people of the plains. Like the buffalo the sacred Paha Sapa (Black Hills) would be lost as well.
The following statement by the Great Spiritual Leader sums up the poignant reality of the loss of a way of life which the white man never comprehended:
“I will remain what I am until I die, a hunter, and when there are no buffalo or other game I will send my children to hunt and live on prairie mice, for where an Indian is shut up in one place his body becomes weak.” Sitting Bull
For Sitting Bull and many others who remembered the old days there was a cherished hope that there would be a second coming of hope. The portent or sign of this second coming of hope would be a white buffalo.
The hope was passed down to the next generation who did not know the life of the plains, the free roaming of the plains and the symbolic relationship with Mother Earth and the watch care of the Great Spirit. For them it became a legend based on hopes and dreams of their ancestors.
Buffalo Dusk by Carl Sandburg
The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.
“The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ,” says Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo, an Oglala Medicine Man from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “It will bring about purity of mind, body, and spirit and;unify all nations—black, red, yellow, and white.”
“He sees the birth of a white calf as an omen because they happen in the most unexpected places and often among the poorest people in the nation. The birth of the sacred white buffalo provides those within the Native American community with a sense of hope and an indication that good times are to come.
“The telling of a story from one culture to another is complex; without living in the culture, we miss much of the story’s significance. However, it can still have meaning for us if we take the time to learn about the philosophy of the culture from which it came, perhaps meditating or reflecting on its place in our own lives.” http://www.lightningmedicinecloud.com/legend.html
Sometimes the only thing left to a great people is hope. Hope is to be cherished and passed on to the children of tomorrow.
For without hope tomorrow becomes just another period of sorrow on this planet traversing the cosmos. Sorrow fills so many lives as they struggle in the desperation of daily life.
G. D. Williams © 2018
The Legend & Importance of the White Buffalo
White Buffalo Calf Woman
“Arvol Lookinghorse is a Lakota spiritual leader and 19th generation keeper of the Tradition of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf. (Wakan Chanupa). According to the Wodakota website: “People of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Sioux Nation believe the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared to the tribes hundreds of years ago, bringing instruction in sacred ceremonies of how to live in balance with all life, and leaving behind a sacred bundle containing a sacred pipe of peace. She left prophecies about a time in which she would return again. The 1994 birth of a white buffalo calf is believed to have been the sign that these times were now at hand.” Arvol’s story is woven together with the return of the White Buffalo and the healing of the planet. He has traveled around the world with a message of peace and urging people to honour the earth and all of its inhabitants while promoting dialogue among indigenous people.”
“This Prophecy of the White Buffalo has been kept within our Magaska Ptesan Wicoti, Hinhan Wicasa Oyate for more than 160 years. Background My father was named Mato Gi, Brown Bear,by his Grandfather Tipi Sapa,Black Lodge after his elder brother, Mato Gi, who rode the Bay Horse, Eagle Claws, and slayed the White Buffalo Bull, as prophesied. Tipi Sapa,Philip Deloria received his name from his father,Hinhan Wicasa, Owl Man, after a life changing Vision Hinhan Wicasa received as young man of 17 years at Medicine Butte, near what is now Pierre, South Dakota.My Uncle Vine Deloria Jr. describes this Vision, in detail, in his book, Singing for A Spirit, My Grandfather Vine Deloria Sr, my Uncle Wilfred Cadotte told me this prophecy often, as well as my father, Mato Gi. I heard my father speak on several occasions about this Prophecy with his Elder Brother Henry Spotted Eagle and others when we visited Ihanktowan Territory over the years Strangely, my 14 year old son was given the name Mato Gi by his grandfather before he died in 2004. It turns out the latest generation of our Oyate, who carries the name ,Mato Gi, was born on August 27, 2000, before the White Buffalo Day was declared to be August 27. That is why I decided to share the White Buffalo Prophecy today, August 27, 2014. The time for the fulfillment of this Sacred Prophecy of the White Buffalo is now! My Uncle Vine Deloria Jr. briefly mentions this story of the White Buffalo Prophecy of the Magaska Ptesan Wicoti ,Hinhan Wicasa Oyate, Ikanktonwan Oceti Sakowin in his book, Singing for a Spirit. Many relatives are the direct carriers of the promises of this sacred Prophecy that was fulfilled by Mato Gi’, the Bay Horse, Eagle Claws through the spiritual training and guidance of Hinhan Wicasa! The Hereditary Chieftainship of Hinhan Wicasa was passed on to Tipi Sapa.”
Bison vs. Buffalo: What’s the Difference?
“When the first European settlers arrived in North America, as many as 60 million bison inhabited the continent’s grasslands, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). These early settlers likely saw similarities between bison, the continent’s largest land animal, and known buffalo species, the National Park Service (NPS) explained on its website.The settlers referred to the large beasts as “bison” and “buffalo” interchangeably, and the name “buffalo,” though scientifically inaccurate, stuck.
“The mistake is somewhat understandable. Both bison and buffalo belong to the Bovidae family, which consists of more than 100 species of hoofed mammals called ungulates, including buffalo, bison, antelopes, gazelles, cattle, sheep and goats. The American bison species is found only in North America, and its closest relative, the European bison (Bison bonasus), can be found in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, where about 1,800 free-ranging individual bison are currently estimated to roam, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”