The arrival of a male white buffalo calf near Fort St. John, B.C. has excited Aboriginal people throughout North America.
Born prematurely, and at nine kilograms weighing only about half what a buffalo calf usually weighs, Spirit of Peace is being bottle-fed and nurtured apart from the herd because of his somewhat precarious condition.
Owner Karen Blatz told CBC reporters that she delayed making the announcement of his birth early in May until he began to thrive, and that he will remain under her care for several more months. She will consider selling him, but she stated firmly that he would not be made into burgers like the others in his herd. It is believed to be the first white buffalo calf born in Canada.
The phenomenon is as rare as one in ten million. Historically, the white buffalo who survived to adulthood spent their lives as predator-beacons in a vast sea of brown. When the huge numbers of buffalo which once roamed the plains were decimated to herds of a few hundred, it was thought by scientists and laymen alike that the recessive gene that produced the rarity was lost forever.
Happily, this was not so. Edmonton's Wendy Walker has made acquiring knowledge of the white buffalo one of her many life's goals. She has travelled to the United States to visit two white female calves born in recent years and has spent time with Chief Arvol Looking Horse, keeper of the sacred white buffalo calf pipe of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota nations.
In an address to a recent world day of peace and prayer meeting, Looking Horse said that since he was 12 years old, prophecies were told to him by spiritual Elders that concerned drastic changes that would come to all life upon Mother Earth. A sign of these changes would come to pass when the spirit of the White Buffalo Calf Woman would once again stand upon Mother Earth.
Walker said it has always been believed that true white buffalo are female.
"Several males have been born which were simply albino anomalies," she said. As Spirit of Peace is male, Walker admits that she is waiting to see if he grows up to follow the traditional changing of colors that still may give him the distinguished label of a true white buffalo. "During their first year, their hide gradually changes from white to a more yellow shade, then to a reddish-brown and finally a dark brown," she explained. If this prophetic color change does occur, which coincides with the racial colors of the Creator's people, another white buffalo calf may truly have been born. She is also waiting to hear from spiritual leaders such as Looking Horse.
"Since it's a recent occurrence, there will be time to observe before any decisions are made."
Walker travelled to visit Miracle, a female white buffalo calf born to non-Aboriginal ranchers in Wisconsin in 1994.
"When she arrived there had not been a white buffalo for many years, so her birth was significant," said Walker.
"And you couldn't have asked that she be born to a nicer group of people than the Heider family, who loved her and protected her." Miracle's presence was honored by many people, including the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who placed one of his sacred white scarves there.
Unfortunately, the cow died in 2004.
Seven years after Miracle's birth, a second white calf was born on the O'Rourke ranch in Michigan.
Arvol Looking Horse gave her the Lakota name Wahoshi, which means Messenger. The animal arrived just before the infamous Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.
"We got the message alright, when you look back and realize the significance of the timing of her birth and the name given to her," said Walker.
Each Indigenous tribe in North America recognizes the significance of the white buffalo, although the story of its evolution varies. All are meaningful, and reflect the value of communication with the Creator through prayer for peace, harmony and balance for all people.
Walker shars her traditional beliefs as she is an accomplished songwriter and musician with her most current CD selling well in record stores. "The music and lyrics on my One Light album were given to me from the Creator and I haven't changed a thing. An Elder told me to travel to see the white buffalo calves and I would be given a gift of music." The award-winning artist has experience in theatre as well, from performing to directing to stage-managing.
Walker is recognized as somewhat of an authority on white buffalo calves as she has made the journey to visit both and has chosen to walk a traditional path.
"I didn't get a choice for this journey," said the mother of four grown children. "My spirit told me that I needed to do this, and I've had visions that this was my destiny. Different medicine people over the years have told me that the grandfathers have chosen me. I will be watching the development of Spirit of Peace closely."
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