Rare White Bison Calf Given Official Name2:48 am - 07/29/2012
Hundreds of Native Americans attended ceremonies at the Mohawk Bison farm in Goshen, Connecticutt farm Saturday, July 28, to name a rare white baby bison, revered as a symbol of peace and unity. The miracle calf was officially named "Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy." The baby bison was born June 16. Experts have said one in 10 million bison are white, but a few other white bison births in recent years suggest the rate is somewhat higher
For those to whom the bison is an iconic part of the American experience, the birth is, at the least, a remarkable coincidence, coming at a time that wildlife, tribal and producer groups are lobbying Congress to have the bison officially designated as the national mammal and a national symbol alongside the bald eagle. (The words buffalo and bison are often used interchangeably).
Mr. Fay, who is the white bison calf's owner, has an elaborate bison tattoo on his right shoulder and another above his heart, and comes from four generations of dairy farmers. He began raising bison as a hobby four years ago, capitalizing on a growing appetite for bison as a leaner alternative to beef, and then became increasingly excited about the animals, building his herd to more than 40 until he sold off about half of them two months ago.
Mr. Fay said his Indian friends had told him that a white bison was considered the most sacred thing imaginable — its birth viewed as something like the Second Coming. Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy is not an albino, and Fay said DNA testing confirmed the animal's bloodlines are pure and there was no intermingling with cattle.
Mrs. White Mouse, a member of the Oglala Lakota people, said a white bison was believed to be a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi. She is revered as a prophet, who in a time of famine taught the Lakotas seven sacred rituals and gave them their most important symbol of worship, the sacred pipe.
“They are very rare, and when a white bison is born there is a reason for each one to be here,” Mrs. White Mouse said. “It’s such a blessing for someone to take care of a bison like Peter Fay will. I told him when it was born, ‘You don’t even know what you have on your hands here.’
Mr. Fay said he was getting the idea, and being very careful. A white bison in Texas was slaughtered a year ago in what some believed could be an anti-Indian hate crime. Mr. Fay said either he or someone else watched the field day and night. He said that he was prepared for what could be four days of festivities, with the naming ceremony scheduled for July 28, and that he had no interest in selling the bison.
This weekend, Lakota tribe members from South Dakota were among the hundreds of people who gathered at the celebration. Other tribal elders from the Mohawk, Seneca and Cayuga tribes participated.
Crowds patiently waited by the roadside before slowly marching into the pasture and lining up alongside a fence as the ceremony began. Children squeezed up against their parents and peered through the fence.
Some women were dressed in colorful tunics and other items indigenous to Native American culture, including bracelets, feathers and boots. Men also wore traditional costumes. Those leading the ceremony wore plain and small headdresses.
Fay, 53, runs the farm below Mohawk Mountain and invited Native Americans to the event, which also included a feast and talks by tribe elders. "I'm almost like the calf to them because I'm the caregiver. They've been here almost every day, teaching me," said Fay.
Fay attended a sweat lodge ceremony with the elders on Friday night in Cornwall. The nearly two-hour ceremony was a way to repair damage done to their spirits, minds and bodies. It acted as a prayer for a name for the calf to come to them through the spirits.
Saturday's ceremony was held under an arbor next to a large fire, amid thunder and large dark rain clouds. Marian and Chubb White Mouse, members of the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Dakota, traveled to Goshen from Wanblee, S.D., to lead the ceremony.
Marian White Mouse told the crowd the birth of a white bison is a sign from a prophet, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, who helped them endure times of strife and famine.
"We come with one prayer, one heart and one mind," she said tearfully. "This is truly a miracle. I hope that this one prayer will keep my people together, keep all of us together."
Barbara Threecrow, an elder from the Naticoke tribe who lives in Hudson Valley, N.Y., sat holding a sacred Canupa of beaver skin containing a pipe.
"I believe this is an awakening," Threecrow said. "This is a way of telling people to remember the sacredness of all of life."
Source 1: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/nyreg
Source 2: http://www.startribune.com/nation/16414
More photos of the baby bison at Source 3: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/H