The Buffalo Woman

It was a time of hunger. Two young men, searching for game, saw a beautiful young woman approaching from the horizon, her feet not touching the ground. She was wrapped in a white buffalo skin and carried something in her hands.

One young man recognized her as a holy person and thought good thoughts, but the other saw only a beautiful young woman and thought to do her harm. As she approached, he reached out to grab her, but instead he became covered by a cloud. When the cloud left, the young man was nothing but a skeleton.

The White Buffalo Calf Woman told the other young man to return to his people to prepare for her coming. “Tell your people that it is a good thing I am bringing. I am bringing a holy thing to your nation, a message from the Buffalo People.”

The young man returned. His people prepared for the holy thing which would be coming by building a medicine lodge and making all things ready. In four days the White Buffalo Calf Woman came to the people, carrying a wrapped bundle and a bunch of sacred sage. She was made welcome and honored by the people. Then she unwrapped the bundle and showed them what she had brought–the Sacred Pipe. She told them what each part represented: the red bowl representing the flesh and blood of the buffalo people and all people, the wooden stem–all green and growing things; the smoke –the sacred wind that carries prayers. She showed them how to offer the Pipe to Earth and Sky and the four Sacred Directions. She told them many mysteries.

“I am going to leave,” she said, “but you will see me again.” As she walked toward the setting sun, she stopped and rolled on the Earth. When she stood up she was a black buffalo. Then she went further and rolled again. This time when she stood up she was a brown buffalo. The third time she was a red buffalo. The fourth and final time, she became a white buffalo calf and disappeared.

As soon as the White Buffalo Calf Woman had disappeared, herds of buffalo appeared all around the camp. The people gave thanks with the Sacred Pipe for all of the blessings they had received. As long as they followed the lessons they had been taught–that all things are connected as parts of the pipe–they lived happily and well.

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