Sacred White Buffalo Calf: Thriving, Though Less White Than He Once Was
GOSHEN, Conn. – The sacred white buffalo born in June on a ranch in western Connecticut is now a high-spirited three-month-old calf who eats grain and runs around his meadow with boundless energy.
Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy is healthy, happy and enjoying his life at the ranch where he will likely live for the rest of his life, Peter Fay, the owner of the bison ranch, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “He’s starting to change color; he’s getting darker. He’s growing. He’s eating grain and he’s still nursing and he’ll continue nursing till I take him away from his mother at the end of the year,” Fay said.
Fay is becoming attached to Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy, who lives in a large pasture quite a distance back from the road where he is not visible to passers-by. The white buffalo calf shares the pasture with his mother, another female buffalo and her female calf, born on the same day—June 16—and at the same time as Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy. “I go see him every day and if I’m by myself he’ll come right up to me. He’s still a kid. He’s jumping around and always fooling around with the other one.”
The birth of a white buffalo is an intensely sacred event to the Lakota. They say it’s a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi, who is revered as a prophet. In a time of famine, the Maiden taught the Lakota seven sacred rituals, including the sweat lodge, and gave them their most important symbol of worship, the sacred pipe. The birth in Goshen was so important that Lakota Medicine Man Steve Stonearrow traveled from California to conduct a naming ceremony for the calf. He was joined by Lakota elders Chubb and Marian White Mouse, Marian’s brother Wilbur Leon Old Man Morrison, and Shirley Khabazz, traditionalists who follow the Lakota ways, who travelled from Pine Ridge and elsewhere to join him. A local couple, who are relatives of the White Mouse family, and Fay also participated in the naming ceremony, which took place in the pasture. News of the white buffalo’s birth had spread like wild fire in the media, including an article in the New York Times, and had so caught the public imagination that an estimated crowd of up to 2,000 people from all over the country showed up for the ceremony.
Fay, who owns and operates a construction business, said people still arrive at the ranch unannounced, hoping to catch a glimpse of Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy, and his phone is still ringing off the hook. “I don’t answer my phone anymore so people leave messages and I listen to them. Sometimes I’ll get back to them and say, ‘You can come at such and such a time,’ but some of them are really pushy,” Fay said. But Fay, who has opened his heart and mind to the Lakota ways, is mellow about the intrusions and actually enjoys talking to some of the visitors. One woman had strung Tibetan prayer flags on the fence by the road. “They were there when I got back from work one day. I took them down and put them here (on a fence near Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy’s pasture) because someone would have taken them, but I never got to talk to her,” Fay said. Another visitor—a Native man from Florida—had traveled through the Dakotas to Seattle and then to Connecticut. “He was across the street ready to smoke his pipe when I got home from work. So I brought him down to the pasture and he did his thing next to the animals and we had a long talk and then he was ready to drive his bike down to Florida,” said Fay.
Stonearrow and the Lakota elders will return next summer to conduct further ceremonies for Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy, Fay said. And he’s considering hosting a powwow in the large field across from the ranch at the same time, but those plans haven’t jelled.
The birth of Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy has definitely changed his life, Fay said. “Yes, I can say it did. I don’t know to what extent at this point. I don’t even think this whole thing has hit me all the way yet, but it has changed my life—and yes, in a good way.”
ICTMN staff reporter Gale Courey Toensing took the video below of Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy.