This is an origional work by Ed Metz, we think it is very beautiful and I know you will too. We ask that you don't use it for profit.
this site last updated 25 October 2008
In the early 1820s a wagon train of white settlers slowly crossed the North Dakota plains. As they wound their way across the rolling grasslands they heard a distant rumble that grew louder and louder and louder until it was deafening. The settlers had to stop their forward travel for four days while a buffalo herd estimated at two million animals passed on their migration. It was just one of the many huge herds of bison living on the prairie grasslands numbering an estimated 80 million animals. Seventy years later, only about 500 bison were left alive. All the rest had been slaughtered by the Americans seeking their manifest destiny to conquer the continent from sea to sea. Many buffalo were killed for sport and many only for their tongues, which were shipped back east as a delicacy in the civilized restaurants.
The buffalo was the source of life for the Plains tribes. It provided food, shelter, clothing, tools, ornamentation, and spiritual strength. As food, the buffalo provided fresh meat for immediate use and dried meat for the winter. Choke cherries were pounded into meat and allowed to air dry on racks. For shelter and clothing, buffalo skins were dried and tanned using brain tissue to soften the skins. The skins were sewn together in large half circles to make tipis and tipi liners. Shirts, breechcloths, dresses, leggings, moccasins, parfleches and arrow quirts were fashioned from the skins. Sinew from the back legs was used for bindings. Buffalo robes provided bedding and relief from the brutal winter cold. Bone were used for tools. Awls were made to puncture the skins for sewing. Shoulder blades made digging hoes. Large leg bones were used as ground pegs. Thick skins were stretched and dried to make war shields. Bones were shaped as tools to flatten porcupine quills used in decoration. Every part of the buffalo was used. Killing a buffalo was no easy feat, particularly before the horse was introduced by the Spanish. A favorite method of killing buffalo was to stampede them over a cliff. The animals would fall breaking their legs and be easy prey to a bow and arrow or atlatl and spear. Large buffalo jumps have been found throughout the northern plains where the deep layers of buffalo bones show the evolution from the extinct Bison antiquis to the modern Bison bison.
The near extinction of the buffalo aided in the extinction of the Indian way of life on the plains. Tribes were forced into submission and herded to reservations. American agents, military, and churches attempted to turn the migratory tribes into beef-eating subsistence farmers. To imagine what it must have been like, consider what it would be like for you if aliens landed tomorrow, killed all the beef, chicken and pork, took away all your weapons, stole your car, gave you blankets with strange alien diseases, forced you into a prisoner of war camp and forced you to eat Grade B kwaglex meat. This will give you an idea of the spiritual and material loss the plains tribes endured.
Spiritually, the buffalo was a source of great strength to the plains tribes like the Cheyenne, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, Arapaho, Crow, Plains Cree, Pawnee, Hidatsu, Mandan, Arikara, andKiowa. For the Sioux Nation, the buffalo was known as ÒTatankaÓ. Five centuries ago, a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin decorated with dark porcupine quills approached the Sans Arc band of the Sioux Nation carrying a bundle wrapped in buffalo skin. White Buffalo Calf Woman brought many important teachings and introduced the sacred pipe to the people. When she left, with a promise to return, she turned into a white buffalo and disappeared.
On August 20, 1994 a female buffalo calf with white fur was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on the ranch of non-Indian ranchers named Dave and Valerie Heider. She is the first white buffalo known to be born this century. They named her Miracle. The Heiders are very sensitive people and have great respect for Indian people. They quickly understood the significance and importance of the event. They worked to protect Miracle but allowed people to see her. They did not charge a viewing fee as entrepreneurs might do. Pilgrimages to view Miracle became an everyday event. As many as 1200 people per day came. The Heiders turned down offers of $250,000 for the animal, and turned down a bid from rock and roller Ted Nugent. The normal price for a yearling bison is $1400.
Miracle is not a true albino. Her eyes are brown and her skin is not pinkish. As she got older, much of her white fur turned blond. As of this writing, the Heider Ranch reports that a patch of white fur is returning to her back. To many Indians, the birth of a female white buffalo was analogous to the return of Jesus Christ.A prophesy states that the white buffaloes birth signals a major change in the fate of Indians, a return of the great buffalo herds, and return to the power of the people and the old ways. Already we have started to see that. Buffalo meat is becoming more and more common in supermarkets. The meat is leaner than beef and very tasty. Indian populations ebbed and are increasing.
More and more European-Americans are turning to Indian cultures not to collect the artifacts, but to learn of the old ways. As the American technology reaps its destruction on the environment, scientists and concerned people are studying the old Indian ways of living with the land, not off the land. More and more people are learning that the Earth is our Mother not our harlot, and the Sky is our Father, not our chemical dump. Whether or not Miracle is the prophesied white buffalo is not really the issue. What is important is that a turning point has come and passed signaling a rebirth of the tribal spirits, anda re-emergence of Americas indigenous peoples.
Please note: This paper is public domain and may be used by anyone, with the provision that if you use it for profit, you send half the profits to the Indian reservation or reserve closest to you.
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