world : Native Americans see omen in Yellowstone's rare white bison

world : Native Americans see omen in Yellowstone's rare white bison
world : Native Americans see omen in Yellowstone's rare white bison

Thursday 13 June 2024 02:30 AM

Nafeza 2 world - An incredibly rare white bison calf has been photographed in Yellowstone National Park, exciting Native American tribes who view its arrival as a religious prophecy heralding major change.

It was spotted in the Lamar Valley area of the park, making it the first white bison to be born from the last wild herd in the US, according to modern records.

Other white bison births in recent decades occurred in captivity and from parents that contained domestic cow DNA - making the wild spotting more religiously significant for tribes.

Montana photographer Erin Braaten spotted the young buffalo in the Lamar Valley area of Yellowstone on 4 June while visiting the park with three of her eight children.

While stuck in traffic caused by a slow-moving bison herd, she spotted the young calf across a river, nearly 100 metres (330ft) away, and initially mistook it for a coyote because of its sandy light colour.

"There were so many different thoughts and emotions," Mrs Braaten, who grew up hearing about the sacred white bison calf, told the BBC. "It was crazy.

"It was so amazing. I thought I'd have a better chance of capturing Bigfoot than a white bison calf," she adds.

The birth of a white buffalo is a sacred event for many Native tribes of the Great Plains, including the Lakota people, who believe that it relates to a time around 2,000 years ago when food was scarce and the bison were rarely seen.

The Lakota legend tells of a beautiful woman who appeared and delivered the gifts of a sacred pipe and bundle to the people. The woman told them she would return to restore harmony in a troubled world, and then rolled on the ground four times, changing colour each time before becoming a white buffalo calf.

Her departure led the bison to return, and white buffalos are now seen as a sign that prayers are being heard and that change is coming.

The white buffalo woman is considered the central prophet - a messiah-like figure - in the theology of many tribes, including the Sioux, Cherokee, Comanche and Navajo.

Her story is often likened to that of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith.

Simon Moya-Smith, an Oglala Lakota writer who was also raised on the white buffalo woman's story, told the BBC the arrival of a white calf is seen both as a "blessing and a warning", according to tradition.

Every time a white calf is seen, "you have this prophecy of something good or something bad will happen. But we know that it's going to be great - great in the sense that it's going to be significant".

Mr Moya-Smith says that tribes are currently working to interpret the meaning of the newest calf's arrival.

Yellowstone has not officially confirmed the birth of the calf.

An event to celebrate its arrival is planned for 25 June in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, and is being hosted by Buffalo Field Campaign, a group that advocates for the buffalo.

Lakota elders will attend the event, and other tribes may send delegates as well.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, who is the 19th generation keeper of the pipe believed to have been given by the white buffalo woman, said in a statement that the calf's arrival is a sign "we must do more".

"All nations should come together at their sacred places and unify with us in prayer," he said in a statement.

"We can do more to heal Grandmother Earth and protect her sacred children. The birth of this calf is both a blessing and warning.”

There are no statistics on how many white bison exist in the US, but the National Bison Association has previously estimated that as little as one to two are born each year.

According to Chief Looking Horse, there has been a white buffalo alive in North America at "almost" all times since 1994, when a calf named Miracle was born on a farm in Wisconsin.

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