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Native American ceremony celebrates rare white buffalo birth in Yellowstone

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In a heartwarming ceremony near Hebgen Lake, just outside Yellowstone National Park, hundreds gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the birth of a rare white buffalo calf. As Chief Arvol Looking Horse revealed the calf’s name, Wakan Gli, meaning “Return Sacred” in Lakota, the crowd erupted in cheers. The event was a significant part of a Native American religious ceremony featuring dancing, drumming, singing, and storytelling.
Earlier this month, the white buffalo calf was born in the lush Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, where large herds of bison graze, reminiscent of the old American West. For many Native American tribes, the birth of this calf is seen as the fulfillment of a sacred prophecy and a reminder to take better care of the Earth.
What is the significance of the white buffalo calf’s name?
The calf was named Wakan Gli, which means “Return Sacred” in Lakota. Chief Arvol Looking Horse explained that the name reflects the sacred and prophetic nature of the calf’s birth.
How was the calf’s birth celebrated?
The birth was commemorated with a Native American religious ceremony that included dancing, drumming, singing, and the retelling of the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. About 500 people, including representatives from various tribes, attended the ceremony at Buffalo Field Campaign’s headquarters near Hebgen Lake.
Why is the white buffalo calf important to Native American tribes?
The white buffalo calf holds deep spiritual significance for many Native American tribes. It is seen as both a blessing and a warning. According to Lakota legend, the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared 2,000 years ago during a time of hardship and promised to return in times of need as a white buffalo calf. Chief Looking Horse said, “It’s up to each and every one of you to make it happen for the future of our children. We must come together and bring that good energy back.”
What is the current status of the white buffalo calf?
The calf was last seen shortly after its birth on June 4. Since then, it has not been spotted, raising concerns that it may have fallen victim to predators, river currents, illness, or other hazards. However, its birth remains an auspicious sign with deep roots in Lakota legend and spiritual belief.
How rare is the birth of a white buffalo calf in Yellowstone?
White buffalo calves are extremely rare, particularly in the wild. While white calves can appear on buffalo ranches due to interbreeding with cattle, there is no record of a white bison being born in Yellowstone, the continent’s largest wild reserve of the animals, in recent memory, if ever.
What message does the birth of the white buffalo calf convey?
Chief Looking Horse and other tribal leaders see the birth as a message from the natural world. “Mother Earth is sick and has a fever,” Looking Horse said. “It is the fulfillment of our prophecy.” Preservationist Devin Old Man added, “It’s hard to be a native these days. We have to look at the bigger picture.”
What efforts are being made to protect and honor wild buffalo?
The Buffalo Field Campaign, a conservation group, works with tribes to protect and honor wild buffalo. Mike Mease, the co-founder of the group, emphasized the importance of preserving the remaining buffalo population in Yellowstone. “These are the last remnants of the 30 to 60 million that were once on the continent,” he said.
How did people react to the white buffalo calf’s birth?
Photographer Jordan Creech, who was among the first to capture images of the white calf, described the experience as unreal. “I know how important it is to the Native people,” he said. Chief Looking Horse expressed a mix of awe and concern, noting that the calf’s birth could signify a need for healing in the world.
(With inputs from agencies)





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