When a rare white buffalo was born Friday at a buffalo ranch in Shelby County, owners Bob and Julie Allen thought the baby had prophecy written in her
The white calf, regarded as a sacred symbol by Lakota Sioux and other Plains Indian tribes, is a granddaughter of the ranch's former big star,
award-winning bull Chief Joseph, a hefty 3,000-pound sire that had cost the Allens $101,000.
The bull was struck by lightning on Sept. 11, 2001, and died two weeks later.
So the Allens, who own the Buffalo Crossing Restaurant & Family Fun Ranch, were delighted by the calf's birth.
"The appearance of a white buffalo is regarded by some followers of American Indian spirituality as on par with the Christian idea of the second
coming of Christ," said Bob Pickering, a researcher at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. "I've heard at least one Lakota elder make
that claim," said Pickering, whose book Seeing the White Buffalo delves into the legend of the creatures.
As the story goes, Lakota Sioux rituals and beliefs were brought to the tribe by a spiritual being known as the White Buffalo Calf Woman, Pickering
A white buffalo calf is interpreted as the sacred reincarnation of the woman, he said. Historically, the white buffalo is probably about the most
spiritual being on the prairie," he said.
Pickering estimated the incidence of white buffalo births at about 16 per million.
He said there are three reasons white calves sometimes appear ... they may be:
the result of crossbreeding with white cows
temporarily white and turn dark by their first winter
"The calf is not an albino," said Julie Allen, noting that its eyes are brown, not pink.
Flicking her ears and whisking her tail back and forth, the 40-to-50-pound calf resembles a lamb.
"In the past, Indians sacrificed white buffalo as sacred offerings, but now they avoid doing that," Pickering said.
About 600 buffalo roam the Allens' 1,000 acres. They raise buffalo primarily for meat and to serve in the restaurant on their property. But in
keeping with tradition, the white calf, which has yet to be named, likely will be spared.
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