In the Mythology of Native American Medicine there is a story:
According to Lakota [Sioux] lore, a long time ago, during a time of famine, a woman appeared, wearing white buffalo skin, and carrying a sacred pipe. She explained that the wooden stem was for the trees, and everything growing on earth, the red bowl symbolized the flesh and blood of all people, and the smoke was the breath of their prayers going to Wakan Tanka, the Creator. The woman showed the people the pipe ceremony, where offerings were made to the four directions, while drums were played, and sacred songs were sung. The people learned of the connection between the sky and the earth and the unity of all life. They learned that offering thanks to Wakan Tanka with the pipe would yield many blessings here on earth. Before leaving, the woman said that she would return when the time was ripe. Then she turned into a buffalo, changing colors several times. Finally, she changed into a white buffalo calf, and disappeared into the distance. The people followed her teachings and were hungry no more.
In the summer of 1994, her promise of return was fulfilled with the birth of a white buffalo in Jamesville, Wisconsin. White buffalos are rare, but this one is unique because, as prophesied by the Native American Medicine community, the white buffalo has changed its colors since birth, going from white to black to red to yellow and back to white. Since each color represents one of the four directions--north being white, black representing west, red symbolizing south, and yellow depicting east--this buffalo has great symbolic significance to Native American tribes, who respond to it as a Christian would respond to the second coming of Christ. It signifies a time of profound change upon the planet and a new level of responsibility for mankind. One Native American visionary interpreted the birth of the white buffalo calf to mean that the four energies--the black, white, yellow, and red--will realize that there is only one race, the human race, and join together in peace.
Not many people outside of Native American Medicine culture understand the significance of the white buffalo. In fact, very few people know much about Native Americans, their customs and traditions. Historically, theirs has been an oral heritage, causing white historians to mistakenly imply that Native Americans have nothing to say. Today, most people still have stereotypical images of Indians, the result of movies, television programs and history texts. A further lack of understanding stems from a different view of the world. Native Americans believe nature is divine; they are only a part of nature, and not here to dominate it. Their ceremonies are for the regeneration of Mother Earth, a direct contrast to western beliefs and policies. What knowledge Native Americans have to offer is therefore disregarded or silenced through government segregation and control. In fact, Native American Healing ceremonies were prohibited by law before the passage of the Indian Freedom Act in 1978. In addition, many Americanized Indians have long forgotten the traditions of their past, and the few who still remember tend to be secretive about their customs, which they have been forced to hide so long from the dominant culture.
Never before has the world been in such dire need of these understandings. As the twenty-first century approaches, our natural resources dwindle, and diseases brought on by technology rise. Many are beginning to realize that another way of life is essential for survival and well-being on a personal and global level. As one Lakota medicine man, George Amiotte, notes, "The general population are starting to wake up to that fact that we, as human beings, have a responsibility, not only to our own societies, but also to the earth."
We look to the continent's first inhabitants, as they have been able to live harmoniously with nature for thousands of years. As an alternative to self-destruction, we offer an insight into Native American Medicine sacred practices, and the visions they offer.
|Native American Ghost Dance|
|Native American Pipe Ceremony|
|Native American Purification Ceremony|
|Native American Vision Quest|
|Native Americans Online|