The White Buffalo

"The White Buffalo Woman"

The Sioux are a warrior tribe, and one of their proverbs says, "Woman shall not walk before man. " Yet White Buffalo Woman is the dominant figure of their most important legend. The medicine man Crow Dog explains, "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. " At the ritual of the sun dance one woman, usually a mature and universally respected member of the tribe, is given the honor of representing Buffalo Woman.

Though she first appeared to the Sioux in human form, White Buffalo Woman was also a buffalo­the Indians' brother, who gave its flesh so that the people might live. Albino buffalo were sacred to all Plains tribes; a white buffalo hide was a sacred talisman, a possession beyond price.

One summer so long ago that nobody knows how long, the Oceti­Shakowin, the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Oyate, the nation, came together and camped. The sun shone all the time, but there was no game and the people were starving. Every day they sent scouts to look for game, but the scouts found nothing.

Among the bands assembled were the Itazipcho, the Without­Bows, who had their own camp circle under their chief, Standing Hollow Horn. Early one morning the chief sent two of his young men to hunt for game. They went on foot, because at that time the Sioux didn't yet have horses. They searched everywhere but could find nothing. Seeing a high hill, they decided to climb it in order to look over the whole country. Halfway up, they saw something coming toward them from far off, but the figure was floating instead of walking. From this they knew that the person was waken , holy.

At first they could make out only a small moving speck and had to squint to see that it was a human form. But as it came nearer, they realized that it was a beautiful young woman, more beautiful than any they had ever seen, with two round, red dots of face paint on her cheeks. She wore a wonderful white buckskin outfit, tanned until it shone a long way in the sun. It was embroidered with sacred and marvelous designs of porcupine quill, in radiant colors no ordinary woman could have made. This wakan stranger was Ptesan­Wi, White Buffalo Woman. In her hands she carried a large bundle and a fan of sage leaves. She wore her blue­black hair loose except for a strand at the left side, which was tied up with buffalo fur. Her eyes shone dark and sparkling, with great power in them.

The two young men looked at her open­mouthed. One was overawed, but the other desired her body and stretched his hand out to touch her. This woman was lila waken, very sacred, and could not be treated with disrespect. Lightning instantly struck the brash young man and burned him up, so that only a small heap of blackened bones was left. Or as some say that he was suddenly covered by a cloud, and within it he was eaten up by snakes that left only his skeleton, just as a man can be eaten up by lust.

To the other scout who had behaved rightly, the White Buffalo Woman said: "Good things I am bringing, something holy to your nation. A message I carry for your people from the buffalo nation. Go back to the camp and tell the people to prepare for my arrival. Tell your chief to put up a medicine lodge with twenty­four poles. Let it be made holy for my coming."

This young hunter returned to the camp. He told the chief, he told the people, what the sacred woman had commanded. The chief told the eyapaha, the crier, and the crier went through the camp circle calling: "Someone sacred is coming. A holy woman approaches. Make all things ready for her." So the people put up the big medicine tipi and waited. After four days they saw the White Buffalo Woman approaching, carrying her bundle before her. Her wonderful white buckskin dress shone from afar. The chief, Standing Hollow Horn, invited her to enter the medicine lodge. She went in and circled the interior sunwise. The chief addressed her respectfully, saying: "Sister, we are glad you have come to instruct us."

She told him what she wanted done. In the center of the tipi they were to put up an owanka wakan, a sacred altar, made of red earth, with a buffalo skull and a three­stick rack for a holy thing she was bringing. They did what she directed, and she traced a design with her finger on the smoothed earth of the altar. She showed them how to do all this, then circled the lodge again sunwise. Halting before the chief, she now opened the bundle. the holy thing it contained was the chanunpa, the sacred pipe. She held it out to the people and let them look at it. She was grasping the stem with her right hand and the bowl with her left, and thus the pipe has been held ever since.

Again the chief spoke, saying: "Sister, we are glad. We have had no meat for some time. All we can give you is water." They dipped some wacanga, sweet grass, into a skin bag of water and gave it to her, and to this day the people dip sweet grass or an eagle wing in water and sprinkle it on a person to be purified.

The White Buffalo Woman showed the people how to use the pipe. She filled it with chan­shasha, red willow­bark tobacco. She walked around the lodge four times after the manner of Anpetu­Wi, the great sun. This represented the circle without end, the sacred hoop, the road of life. The woman placed a dry buffalo chip on the fire and lit the pipe with it. This was peta­owihankeshini , the fire without end, the flame to be passed on from generation to generation. She told them that the smoke rising from the bowl was Tunkashila's breath, the living breath of the great Grandfather Mystery.

The White Buffalo Woman showed the people the right way to pray, the right words and the right gestures. She taught them how to sing the pipe­filling song and how to lift the pipe up to the sky, toward Grandfather, and down toward Grandmother Earth, to Unci, and then to the four directions of the universe.

"With this holy pipe," she said, "you will walk like a living prayer. With your feet resting upon the earth and the pipestem reaching into the sky, your body forms a living bridge between the Sacred Beneath and the Sacred Above. Wakan Tanka smiles upon us, because now we are as one: earth, sky, all living things, the two legged, the four­legged, the winged ones, the trees, the grasses. Together with the people, they are all related, one family. The pipe holds them all together."

"Look at this bowl," said the White Buffalo Woman. "Its stone represents the buffalo, but also the flesh and blood of the red man. The buffalo represents the universe and the four directions, because he stands on four legs, for the four ages of man. The buffalo was put in the west by Wakan Tanka at the making of the world, to hold back the waters. Every year he loses one hair, and in every one of the four ages he loses a leg. The Sacred Hoop will end when all the hair and legs of the great buffalo are gone, and the water comes back to cover the Earth.

The wooden stem of this chanunpa stands for all that grows on the earth. Twelve feathers hanging from where the stem­ the backbone­ joins the bowl­ the skull­ are from Wanblee Galeshka, the spotted eagle, the very sacred who is the Great Spirit's messenger and the wisest of all cry out to Tunkashila . Look at the bowl: engraved in it are seven circles of various sizes. They stand for the seven ceremonies you will practice with this pipe, and for the Ocheti Shakowin , the seven sacred campfires of our Lakota nation."

The White Buffalo Woman then spoke to the women, telling them that it was the work of their hands and the fruit of their bodies which kept the people alive. "You are from the mother earth," she told them. "What you are doing is as great as what warriors do."

And therefore the sacred pipe is also something that binds men and women together in a circle of love. It is the one holy object in the making of which both men and women have a hand. The men carve the bowl and make the stem; the women decorate it with bands of colored porcupine quills. When a man takes a wife, they both hold the pipe at the same time and red cloth is wound around their hands, thus tying them together for life.

The White Buffalo Woman had many things for her Lakota sisters in her sacred womb bag; corn, wasna (pemmican), wild turnip. She taught how to make the hearth fire. She filled a buffalo paunch with cold water and dropped a red­hot stone into it. "This way you shall cook the corn and the meat," she told them.

The White Buffalo Woman also talked to the children, because they have an understanding beyond their years. She told them that what their fathers and mothers did was for them, that their parents could remember being little once, and that they, the children, would grow up to have little ones of their own. She told them: "You are the coming generation, that's why you are the most important and precious ones. Some day you will hold this pipe and smoke it. Some day you will pray with it."

She spoke once more to all the people: "The pipe is alive; it is a red being showing

you a red life and a red road. And this is the first ceremony for which you will use the pipe. You will use it to Wakan Tanka, the Great Mystery Spirit. The day a human dies is always a sacred day. The day when the soul is released to the Great Spirit is another. Four women will become sacred on such a day. They will be the ones to cut the sacred tree, the can­wakan, for the sun dance."

She told the Lakota that they were the purest among the tribes, and for that reason Tunkashila had bestowed upon them the holy chanunpa. They had been chosen to take care of it for all the Indian people on this turtle continent.

She spoke one last time to Standing Hollow Horn, the chief, saying, "Remember: this pipe is very sacred. Respect it and it will take you to the end of the road. The four ages of creation are in me; I am the four ages. I will come to see you in every generation cycle. I shall come back to you."

The sacred woman then took leave of the people, saying: " Toksha ake wacinyanitin ktelo, I shall see you again."

The people saw her walking off in the same direction from which she had come, outlined against the red ball of the setting sun. As she went, she stopped and rolled over four times. The first time, she turned into a black buffalo; the second into a brown one; the third into a red one; and finally, the fourth time she rolled over, she turned into a white female buffalo calf. A white buffalo is the most sacred living thing you could ever encounter.

The White Buffalo Woman disappeared over the Horizon. Sometime she might come back. As soon as she had vanished, buffalo in great herds appeared, allowing themselves to be killed so the people might survive. And from that day on, our relations, the buffalo, furnished the people with everything they needed, meat for their food, skins for their clothes and tipis, bones for their many tools.


White Buffalo Calf Miracle


September 1996 Issue


by Bette Stockbauer

In 1933 a white buffalo calf was born in Colorado, and in 1994 another one, named Miracle, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, on the ranch of Dave and Valerie Heider. Thousands of people of many different faiths have visited Miracle, testifying that her birth is a call for all races to come together to heal the earth and solve our mutual problems.

On 9 May of this year, a silvery­white buffalo calf named Medicine Wheel was born at the ranch of Joe Merrival on the Pine Ridge reservation of South Dakota. Another white calf, Rainbow, had been born in the same herd on 27 April. It died 25 hours later of scours, a diarrhea­type condition.

The birth of a white buffalo calf is seen by the Native Americans as the most significant of prophetic signs, equivalent to the weeping statues, bleeding icons, and crosses of light that are becoming prevalent within the Christian churches. Just as the Christian faithful who attend these signs see them as a renewal of God's ongoing relationship with humanity, so do the Native Americans see the white buffalo calf as a sign to begin to mend life's sacred hoop.

The recent births were surrounded by controversy. Some have suggested that the calf is a beefalo, a buffalo and beef cattle mix. Some have accused Mr Merrival of genetic engineering. The odds of the birth of a white buffalo are estimated as 6­10 million to one. In response, he says that there is little probability of mixed parentage and none whatsoever of genetic manipulation.

Mr. Merrival, who is of Oglala Sioux ancestry, thinks the birth of Medicine Wheel is a great gift that must now be used to try and help as many people as possible. His son Darrin thinks that the calf was sent to us to unify the nation.

James Dubray, a medicine man, said: "Our young people need it the most. They need to have hope. They need to have a future. And this will help. This place has been chosen as the starting point for the healing process to begin."

Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo, an Oglala medicine man, has commented: "Here is a man, a poor farmer, who has been kind to animals all his life, and now there is a white buffalo calf here. These are omens, and they are happening in the most unexpected place among the poorest people in the country. They are good omens, if we pay attention to them. For us, this would be something like coming to see Jesus lying in the manger."

When asked whether the birth of the latest calf was a sign, Benjamin Creme replied "Yes indeed, it is a sign. The important ones are the last two. These were created with the influence of the Masters."

The White Buffalo Called Miracle

It was said by some that in "the time of the White Buffalo" sunbows, or whirling rainbows, would begin to appear more frequently as a sign to the people. As most readers of this journal will know, we are in the time of the White Buffalo. The long­awaited White Buffalo Calf was born August 20, 1994 on a Wisconsin farm owned by Dave and Valerie Hieder.

Jay Pierce is Valerie Hieder's dad, and he is the person who greets most of the over 65,000 people who have come out to the farm to visit Miracle since her birth just over a year ago. "Miracle is in great shape," he reports.

"She started out white alright, but then turned jet black for all of the Winter. Right now she's a kind of cinnamony yellow. Those are three of the four colors, and, according to the prophecies that have been explained to us there is one color left, red." It has been said that the White Buffalo will return in the way White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman left many years ago: she rolled over four times, getting up each time as a bunko calf of a different color: red, then yellow, black, and finally white. The process is apparently unfolding in reverse, as was foreseen long ago.

Miracle now weighs about 550­600 pounds, and is about a year away from maturity. Red Tail Hawks come to circle over the herd nearly every day, and there is an eagle who comes soaring over a couple of times a week.

"It's great for me here at the farm because of all the wonderful people I get to meet," Mr. Pierce commented. "I'd say that about half of the visitors are Native. We have no privacy, and are sometimes overwhelmed, but that's okay. It's great having her here.

"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "she is doing her job around here. She gets along fine with all the other buffalo, and is one of the herd. It's heartening to see the attitude of the people who come here to visit. They are serene and calm and peaceful. They really seem to slow down. If we could just slow people down around the world like that, there would probably be a lot less greed and craziness."

The following article appeared in a Madison weekly newspaper, Isthmus, the Nov. 25 ­ Dec. 1 issue.

"It's a Miracle!"

A white buffalo, symbol of Native American

rebirth and world harmony, is born in Janesville."

by Tom Laskin

"To tell the truth, the first time I looked out there, I saw a million dollars," says Janesville farmer Dave Heider as he watches Miracle, the white buffalo calf held sacred by Native Americans, chew contentedly on a mouthful of silage. "But once I saw how much this little calf means to so many people, I couldn't see charging money for people to come and look at her. I mean, how can you put a price on something that's sacred and holy? You know, if God meant for me to be a millionaire, I would have won the lottery."

Heider and his wife, Val, had been raising buffalo on their 46­acre hobby farm for less than five years when Miracle was born snow white on Aug. 20. Since then more than 20,000 people have come to see her, and the gate to the Heider's pasture and the trees next to it are now covered with offerings: feathers, necklaces and pieces of colorful cloth as well as personal notes and the occasional medal won in Vietnam. All this has piqued the interest of news and infotainment outlets around the world, including the BBC, CBS News, and People magazine. Notes Dave Heider, "We made the front page of papers seven days in a row when O.J. didn't."

Naturally, an assortment of wealthy collectors and modern­day Barnums have also shown an interest in the calf. Early on, rock star Ted Nugent, who penned a song about a white buffalo, offered to buy Miracle.

But the Heiders haven't tried to make money off the calf. Dave still drives a truck for the county (he'll go up to a 16­hour day when the snow begins to fall) and Val hasn't quit her janitor job. The couple has gotten into a little merchandising, but profits from postcards and T­shirts sold at the farm during weekend visiting hours go into a trust fund that will be used to maintain the calf and pay for such other expenses as the 9,000­ volt electric fence that guards Miracle and the rest of the Heider's 13 buffalo herd. To prevent exploitation of the calf by carnival sharks and what the Heiders' attorney, Dan Varline, calls "UFO magazines," both Miracle's image and name have been copyrighted. (Isthmus had to sign an agreement prohibiting broader use in order to photograph the calf.)

The Heiders knew from contacts in the bison industry that their calf was unusual; in fact, the Wisconsin Farmer and The Beloit Daily News both did stories about its birth. But it was only after the story got wider distribution that they learned Miracle was held sacred by buffalo­hunting Plains Indians; including the Lakota and the Cheyenne.

"The story hit the news wire on Wednesday and the first Native Americans were here on Thursday," recalls Heider. "I think they were Oneida. They came from Black River Falls. We were up by the calf with some people and these Native Americans had been waiting for an hour, an hour and half. They asked our permission to see the calf and also pray to it and leave an offering."

News of the calf spread quickly through the Native American community because its birth fulfilled a 2,000­year­old prophecy of northern Plains Indians. Joseph Chasing Horse, traditional leader of the Lakota nation, explains that 2,000 years ago a young woman who first appeared in the shape of a white buffalo gave the Lakota's ancestors a sacred pipe and sacred ceremonies and made them guardians of the Black Hills. Before leaving, she also prophesied that one day she would return to purify the world, bringing back spiritual balance and harmony; the birth of a white buffalo calf would be a sign that here return was at hand.Owen Mike, who's in line to succeed his 90­year­old father, Thomas, as head of the Ho­Chunk (Winnebago) buffalo clan, says his people have a slightly different interpretation of the white calf's significance. He adds, however, that the Ho­Chunk version of the prophecy also stresses the return of harmony, both in nature and among all peoples.

"It's more of a blessing from the Great Spirit," Mike explains. "It's a sign. This white buffalo is showing us that everything is going to be okay."


The White Buffalo Called Miracle

Despite her enormous spiritual and cultural significance, Miracle isn't scientifically important. UW Madison geneticist Dr. Richard Spritz, an expert in albinism and other pigmentation disorders, disputes news reports that the odds of a white buffalo being born are less than one in 10 million.

"In humans, the frequency of albinism in most populations is about one in 15,000, which turns out to be a pretty handy number for buffalo because the estimated number of them in the U.S. is something around 150,000. That means, that any given time, if the frequency of albinism in buffalo is similar to that in humans, there ought to be 10 white buffalo out there. And if there's some other way to have a white buffalo, there ought to be more."

So while the American Bison Association says the last documented white buffalo died in 1959, Spritz says the person who alerted him to Miracle's birth has tracked down six living white buffalo. He also notes that a stuffed white buffalo has stood in Harvard's Peabody Museum for years. (There's always some question whether a white buffalo is actually part cow, and therefore a beefalo. Dave Heider says he will allow Miracle's DNA to be examined in March, when it's time for her to be inoculated against various diseases.)But even if other white buffalo have been born in modern times, Miracle holds special significance for Native Americans. She's female, and the bull that sired her died, just as in the prophesy. And, while recent visitors to the Heider farm are sometimes disappointed that the calf's head has turned brown and its body is now a silvery tan, versions of the prophesy state that the white buffalo calf would change colors four times, thus signifying the colors of the four peoples she would unify: black, red, yellow, and white.

Joseph Chasing Horse, in a phone interview from his home in Rapid City, S.D., adds that winter counts ­­ which date the telling of the White Buffalo Calf Woman story in sacred ceremonies ­confirm that this is the buffalo calf of the prophesy.

Moreover, the birth of Miracle on the Heider farm coincides with increased economic stability (thanks in large part to profits from Indian gaming) and cultural rejuvenation among Native Americans. For example, the Ho­Chunk (who this month received federal permission to restore their original name) have used gaming profits to establish Ho­Chunk language programs in their summer camp for teenage children and in four new Head Start centers. The tribe has also reacquired a tract of land that includes sacred sites on the lower Wisconsin River.

Larry Johns, a member of the Oneida tribe who works to preserve Indian mounds and other sacred sites, stresses the cultural importance of such recent discoveries as the Gottschall Rock Shelter in Iowa County, which includes a rock painting from A.D. 900 that tells a story still told by Ho­Chunk elders.

"My father and grandfather went to Indian schools, and they were beaten for speaking their language," says Johns, who along with fellow Oneida and representatives of other tribes has helped put together the new Native American Council of Madison, a group dedicated to promoting cultural awareness. "They tried to beat the Indian out of us. It's imperative that we go back to these stories and find out what they mean to us...and we are."

And how does Miracle fit into all of this? Says Johns, "There's so little understanding of Native American issues and ideas that any opportunity to get people interested ­­ even if it's just coming to see a white buffalo calf ­­ is a good thing."

Johns admits that seeing a key Indian prophesy fulfilled at a white couple's farmette on the banks of the Rock River at first seemed a bit bizarre. But the Heiders' eagerness to accommodate the people who came to pray to the calf and leave offerings eased his mind.

"Initially I was wondering: Why in Janesville?" says Johns, who rotates with other Indians in providing security for the calf during visiting hours. "The place still has problems with the KKK. And, you know, it's just not the friendliest of places. But now that I've gotten to know the family, I understand why. Just about anybody else would be charging five, 10 bucks."

Dave Heider was impressed by the beauty of buffalo when he and Val got their first good look at a bull a few years ago at an exotic animal sale in Michigan. But the couple didn't get into buffalo farming because of romantic visions of the Great Plains turned black by enormous bison herds.

"We got into it more or less for retirement," Dave explains. "Something to fall back on, a little extra income."

"And the meat's very low in cholesterol," adds Val, a buffalo booster who echoes her husband's pragmatic take on buffalo farming. "You know, it's the only animal that doesn't get cancer."

But the buffalo isn't just a food source for Native Americans. Especially for the Plains Indians, it has always been a living, breathing sacrament. Unlike the soldiers and Wild Westerners who hunted North America's 60 million­head herd to the brink of extinction in the 1 890s, the Lakota and other Plains Indians never wasted any portion of the buffalo they killed. The buffalo provided them with food, shelter, clothing ­­ all the essentials of life. It was also a central part of their spiritual lives, and the hunt itself was a ceremony.

These days, the Lakota and other nations have established their own herds in South Dakota and elsewhere through the InterTribal Bison Association. (The Ho­Chunk hope to raise a herd on part of the 600­acre parcel they've purchased, with profits from their three casinos, on the lower Wisconsin River.) And, along with renewed interest on the part of young people in their native languages and sacred ways, the rebirth of the buffalo herds is strengthening cultural awareness.

But building herds is an ongoing process, and Joseph Chasing Horse says much more must be done to protect the buffalo and their North American habitat: "I would like to see something put into place where [the buffalo] would be able to regenerate their herds and be given more of their aboriginal migrating territory," he says. "Since the disappearance of the buffalo migration, we have felt the ecological impact that it is having upon the land. With the disappearance of the buffalo, there are certain medicines that no longer grow, and the Great Plains are being turned back into a desert."

In recent years, non­Indians have also come to realize the profound influence of buffalo on the health of the land. A South Dakota ranch manager quoted in the National Geographic's recent cover story on the American buffalo says wider migrations could help solve water­management problems because the buffalo's sharp hooves break up the soil and improve its ability to hold moisture.

Buffalo can live for nearly 40 years, which means the Heiders are likely to form much stronger bonds with the Native Americans they've come to know since August. And while the number of visitors who still trek to the farm to see Miracle has decreased since the weather got cold and her winter coat began to darken, Dr. Spritz and others say warmer weather may renew her whiteness. That second miracle of coloration would undoubtedly bring a second wave of attention to the calf and occasion more pilgrimages.

But no matter what happens to Miracle in the coming months and years, Joseph Chasing Horse says this sign from the Great Spirit and the ensuing age of harmony and balance it represents cannot be revoked. That doesn't mean, of course, that the severe trials Native Americans have endured since the arrival of Europeans on these shores are over. Indeed, the Lakota nation mounted the longest court case in U.S. history in an unsuccessful effort to regain control of the Black Hills, the sacred land on which the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared 2,000 years ago.

Still, despite their ongoing struggles, Native Americans are heartened by the appearance of a white buffalo in Janesville, and have hope for a harmonious and prosperous future.

"Mention that we are praying, many of the medicine people, the spiritual leaders, the elders, are praying for the world," says Joseph Chasing Horse. "We are praying that mankind does wake up and think about the future, for we haven't just inherited this earth from our ancestors, but we are borrowing it from our unborn children."

The farm is closed to visitors for the remainder of winter, but will reopen this coming spring. To reach the farm, take I­90 south (from Madison) to the Avalon exit (#177). Turn right at the top of the off­ramp. At the fourth stop sign, take a right on South River Road. The farm is about a quarter mile up the road, on the right­hand side.

The Story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman

As told by Joseph Chasing Horse

Traditional Leader of the Lakota Nation

We the Lakota people have a prophecy about the white buffalo calf, and how that prophesy originated was that we have a sacred bundle, a sacred peace pipe, that was brought to us about 2,000 years ago by what we know as the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

The story goes that she appeared to two warriors at that time. These two warriors were out hunting buffalo, hunting for food in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota, and they saw a big body coming toward them. And they saw that it was a white buffalo calf. As it came closer to them, it turned into a beautiful young Indian girl.

At that time one of the warriors thought bad in his mind, and so the young girl told him to step forward. And when he did step forward, a black cloud came over his body, and when the black cloud disappeared, the warrior who had bad thoughts was left with no flesh or blood on his bones. The other warrior kneeled and began to pray. And when he prayed, the white buffalo calf who was now an Indian girl told him to go back to his people and warn them that in four days she was going to bring a sacred bundle.

So the warrior did as he was told. He went back to his people and he gathered all the elders and all the leaders and all the people in a circle and told them what she had instructed him to do. And sure enough, just as she said she would, on the fourth day she came. They say a cloud came down from the sky, and off of the cloud stepped the white buffalo calf. As it rolled onto the earth, the calf stood up and became this beautiful young woman who was carrying the sacred bundle in her hand.

And as she entered into the circle of the nation, she sang a sacred song and took the sacred bundle to the people who were there to take of her. She spent four days among our people and taught them about the sacred bundle, the meaning of it. And she taught them seven sacred ceremonies: one of them was the sweat lodge, or the purification ceremony. One of them was the naming ceremony, child naming. The third was the healing ceremony. The fourth one was the making of relatives or the adoption ceremony. The fifth one was the marriage ceremony. The sixth one was the vision quest. And the seventh was the sundance ceremony, the people's ceremony for all of the nation.

She brought us these seven sacred ceremonies and taught our people the songs and the traditional ways. And she instructed our people that as long as we performed these ceremonies we would always remain caretakers and guardians of sacred land. She told us that as long as we took care of it and respected it that our people would never die and would always live.

When she was done teaching all our people, she left the way she came. She went out of the circle, and as she was leaving she turned and told our people that she would return one day for the sacred bundle. And she left the sacred bundle, which we still have to this very day. And the sacred bundle is known as the White Buffalo Calf Pipe because it was brought by the White Buffalo Calf Woman. It is kept in a sacred place on the Cheyenne Indian reservation in South Dakota. it's kept by a man who is known as the keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, and his name is Arvol Looking Horse.

And when she promised to return again, she made some prophesies at that time ....One of those prophesies was that the birth of a white buffalo calf would be a sign that it would be near the time when she would return again to purify the world. What she meant by that was that she would bring back harmony again and balance, spiritually.


As Floyd Hand tells it, a beautiful lady in a rainbow ­colored dress appeared to him in a vivid dream last May and said she soon would bring a message of peace and unity to mankind. Hand, whose Indian name is Looks for Buffalo and thousands of other people of various nations and races believe the dream became a reality with the birth of a female white buffalo on a modest farm in southern Wisconsin.

According to Lakota Sioux legend, one summer long ago a beautiful young woman appeared among the Indians at a time when there was no game and people were starving.

The woman gave the people a sacred pipe, taught them how to use it to pray and told the Sioux about the value of the buffalo. Before she left them, the woman said she would return, the legend says.

As she walked away she turned into a young white buffalo.

Hand said the return of White Buffalo Calf Woman marks the arrival of a new era of reconciliation among races and respect for the Earth. (excerpts borrowed from an article in the Chicago Tribune by Richard Wronski)


Soon after Generous Wolfs story they decided to visit the White Buffalo Calf. In preparation they harvested loads of produce from the Peace Garden to give away at the Heiders farm. Generous Wolf gathered his medicine belongings, some sacred tobacco and blue corn grown on the farm; he also placed a wooden hoop around a poster of Sitting Bull ­?.

Raven Dreamer came up for the trip, Generous Wolfs niece and daughter, Eagle Bear and River Coyote bordered the Surfer and head to the Heiders farm in Janesville.

The Heiders consist of Dave, Val and Corey who own a 45 acre farm with all kinds of animals, birds and fourteen or so Buffalo. The Heiders greeted us and welcomed the donation of food to the many people visiting from all over the world. They had decided to allow visitors only on Weekends from 12 to 5 pm to help with security and to attempt a more normal environment for the calf and the Heider family.

As they waited along the fence for the buffalo to feed, we tied tobacco prayer ties for Miracle, for peace and many other things. We then tied them to the fence along with a Great Horned Owl wing. All over the fence were gifts from Native People and other thankful people. A poem attached below a beautiful dream catcher read:

A Vision was seen many years ago Prophesying the birth of a White Buffalo Its coming would bring the Indian Race a long sought period of Peace and Grace We will bring her gifts of Tobacco and Sage as the Vision at last has come of age We must honor our culture and heritage with pride for we now have the White Buffalo at our side.

As the Buffalo came into the feeding pasture we looked up and saw Miracle through an expertly woven dream catcher. The Buffalo rushed to their food except Miracle, who stood on a hill of hay observing the crowd. we were awestruck.

Later Generous Wolf sat down with Charlie LaFoe who had some interesting things to say. Charlie said his last name came from his grandfather who chose the name the enemy -­ La Foe when forced to take on an American name. Charlies grandfather was Sitting Bull... He spoke often using We in place of I and mentioned this as important. He also spoke more about the prophesies saying that the original medicine pipe given to the Sioux people by the white buffalo calf woman was now held by Orival Looking Horse and that a medicine bag was also given, which Charlie now held. It was said in the prophesies that when these two items came together a Peace Keeper for the World would be chosen by the white buffalo.

The Heiders have no intent on capitalizing on the white buffalo. They charge no admission, but will accept an offering to care for the famous baby. Donations can be sent to a trust fund @ Bank One, 100 W. Milwaukee, Janesville, WI 53545 in care of the White Buffalo Trust.

Bull That Sired White Buffalo Dead

Just Days After Rare Calf Born

First published September 2, 1994

Copyright 1994 by Neal White and the Beloit Daily News, First of two parts

By Neal White, City Editor

JANESVILLE -- Nestled beneath her mother's legs, the white buffalo calf stared through the fence at her father.

Less than two weeks old, she would occasionally call out in a low groan as if beckoning the large bull to rise.

Only his spirit rose on Thursday; the sire of the white buffalo calf had died.

Since her birth Aug. 20, on David and Valerie Heider's 45­acre exotic animal farm in rural Janesville, the white buffalo calf has drawn nationwide attention.

With the odds estimated at more than 1 in 10 million, experts with the National Buffalo Association had believed the gene needed to produce a white calf had been lost when the buffalo was nearly driven to extinction.

The Heider's calf is the first living white buffalo born in more than 50 years. To Native Americans, she is also being revered as a prophecy come true.

David discovered the bull Thursday morning while doing routine chores. He had died in the pen, down on the lower part of the 24­acre buffalo pasture.

David spent most of the morning alone, grieving the loss of an animal, and what it had come to represent.

In order to produce a white calf, both parents must carry the gene for that trait. With the bull dead, the odds of having another white calf seemed to have died with him.

Gaining his composure, by mid­morning David drove to where his son, Corey was working and broke the news.

Not knowing why the 6­year­old bull had died, the family decided to call a veterinarian and perform an autopsy.

It's been an extremely difficult day," Valerie said. We're not the only ones grieving today," she added, pointing to the 13 buffalo surrounding the pen.

Sensing the bull's death, several of the cows stood guard at the edge of the pen, as if waiting to pay their last respects. Others charged along the fence line, running back and forth, the earth shaking beneath their hooves.

The white buffalo calf, never straying from its mother, stared with wide eyes at her motionless father.

By mid­afternoon the vet had arrived, and Brown Bear, a representative of the Oneida tribe in Green Bay, was en route to Janesville. An elder in his tribe, Brown Bear had already visited the white buffalo calf. He was returning to pay tribute and pray for her father's spirit.

As the autopsy began, the family gathered around to see what could have caused the death.

After 17 years of raising cattle, horses, llama and dozens of other critters, posting a carcass had become routine.

But Marvin, the Heider's buffalo sire, was no ordinary livestock.

Several times during the autopsy David had to turn and walk away. Not from the sight or the stench, but to wipe away the tears.

Taking a break, David said he had received a phone call Tuesday night from Floyd Hand, chief medicine man of the Sioux Nation in Pine Ridge, S.D.

He told me the white buffalo calf was safe, and it was protected from evil spirits. He also said that Marvin was alright now, but he would lay down his life for the white calf," David said.

When I asked him what he meant, he said I see a black blockage.' I didn't think anything else anything about it until I walked out here this morning and Marvin was dead," he added.

An hour into the autopsy, Dr. Jim Schwisow called Valerie over to look at something in one of the stomachs. It was the first of two softball­sized hemorrhages formed near the entrance, deep black in color.

Valerie's face turned pale as she looked over at Corey.

By 5 p.m., Dr. Schwisow discovered the cause of the hemorrhages: several bleeding ulcers in the lower stomach. He determined the ulcers had caused the bull's death.

As the evening fell into darkness, the Heiders sat around the dinning room table waiting for Brown Bear to arrive before removing the carcass. Respecting the beliefs of his culture, they agreed to allow a prayer service.

Since the white calf's birth, the Heiders haven't been able to leave home. In addition to receiving round­the­clock phone calls from across the country, a steady stream of uninvited sight­seers are constantly pulling into their driveway wanting to visit.

Except for family members, the Heiders have only allowed Native Americans and a few members of the media to see the calf.

To (Native Americans), the white buffalo is sacred. It's only right to let them see it and say prayers for it," David said.

To date, representatives from the Oneida, Cherokee, Sioux, Navaho, Ojibwa, Winnebago and Lac du Flambou tribes have either called or stopped to pay homage to the calf.

On the knoll above the pen, a tree is adorned with more than a dozen Native American icons left to protect the white calf. Pointing at the different items and explaining its significance, David stops at the dream catcher.

A web of thread, woven in a circular shape hangs from the branch. A symbolic eagle feature is tethered to the bottom.

This is to catch the dreams of the white buffalo calf, which are pure and good, while preventing evil dreams from coming in," David explained during an earlier visit.

With very little experience in Native American culture, the Heiders have gotten a crash course in the past two weeks.

The more I understand the symbolism of the white buffalo and what it represents (to Native Americans), I got to admit, it scares the hell out of me," David said.

Why I was chosen for something so rare, I don't know. I have to believe that something good will come out of this. I was picked for a reason. What that reason is I don't know yet. But there has to be some reason behind it," he added.

Although he's had offers to buy the white calf from an exotic game farm in Florida and rock star Ted Nuggent, the Heiders have no intention of selling her.

I tell them all thanks for the interest, but no sale'," David said. This isn't about money. There's something going on here that larger than me or you. Money just doesn't enter into it."

Putting a flannel jacket on over his work shirt, David turned on a flashlight and began walking up the hill to the pen.

''This has been a really rough day," he said aloud, not really addressing it to anyone. I'm told that for every window that shuts, there is another one that opens. We'll just have to wait for that window."

The Legend of the White Buffalo

One summer a long time ago, the seven sacred council fires of the Lakota Sioux came together and camped. The sun was strong and the people were starving for there was no game. Two young men went out to hunt. Along the way, the two men met a beautiful young woman dressed in white who floated as she walked. One man had bad desires for the woman and tried to touch her, but was consumed by a cloud and turned into a pile of bones. The woman spoke to the second young man and said, "Return to your people and tell them I am coming." This holy woman brought a wrapped bundle to the people. She unwrapped the bundle giving to the people a sacred pipe and teaching them how to use it to pray. "With this holy pipe, you will walk like a living prayer," she said. The holy woman told the Sioux about the value of the buffalo, the women and the children. "You are from Mother Earth," she told the women, "What you are doing is as great as the warriors do." Before she left, she told the people she would return. As she walked away, she rolled over four times, turning into a white female buffalo calf. It is said after that day the Lakota honored their pipe, and buffalo were plentiful. (from John Lame Deer's telling in 1967).

Many believe that the buffalo calf, Miracle, born August 20, 1994 symbolizes the coming together of humanity into a oneness of heart, mind, and spirit.



A. Take care of Mother Earth and the other colors of man.

B. Respect this Mother Earth and creation.

C. Honor all life, and support that honor.

D. Be grateful from the heart for all life. It is through life that there is survival. Thank the Creator at all times for all life.

E. Love, and express that love.

F. Be humble. Humility is the gift of wisdom and understanding.

G. Be kind with one's self and with others.

H. Share feelings and personal concerns and commitments.

I. Be honest with one's self and with others. Be responsible for these sacred instructions and share them with other nations.

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