Native tribes in Montana are celebrating the birth of an ultra-rare white buffalo calf.
The animal, a female born in June at Bitterroot Valley Bison Ranch in Missoula, has been named The Creator’s White Buffalo Maiden.
Only about one in a million buffalo calves are born white, according to researchers, and many lose their snowy coloring as they grow.
Tribal members believe White Buffalo Maiden has immense cultural significance, with some saying she represents the strife plaguing our nation.
Others claim her arrival means women should take more leadership roles in tribal affairs.
A rare white buffalo, named The Creator’s White Buffalo Maiden, was born in June at Bitterroot Valley Bison Ranch in Missoula, Montana. Only about one in a million buffalo calves are white, according to experts
Some 30 people from Montana’s seven main tribes gathered in Lolo on August 29 for a ceremony honoring White Buffalo Maiden’s arrival.
‘I think the reason the Creator sent this calf here is because of all the injustice that’s been done,’ Glenn Gopher, who conducted the ceremony, told the Great Falls Tribune.
‘Our country is in serious chaos. We have this virus and we have racial injustice. Our world is corrupt.’
But the buffalo, which has returned from the brink of extinction, is also a symbol of hope.
About 30 people, including members of all seven Montana tribes, held a ceremony to celebrate White Buffalo Maiden’s arrival as a symbol of hope, harmony and female empowerment
The Creator’s White Buffalo Maiden off in the distance. White buffalo may result from albinism or a genetic condition that causes a calf to be born white but turn brown within a year or two
‘She shows that we need to love and respect one another. Refrain from hatred and racism,’ Gopher said. ‘Love and respect are what’s missing in this country; our lawmakers are out of hand.’
He said the group prayed ‘for peace and harmony for all of mankind.’
The 300-acre Bitterroot Valley ranch is home to 90 cows and eight bulls, so Gopher wasn’t sure he’d get to see The Creator’s White Buffalo Maiden.
She ran up to the fence just as he was heading to his car, followed by two bulls.
‘It was the most beautiful appearance,’ Gopher told the Tribune. ‘I’m sure I will never see anything like that in my lifetime again.’
On Facebook, Jimmy St Goddard, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, said his people had been waiting for this sacred arrival for 900 years.
‘For 40,000 years the Creator has used the buffalo to provide the indigenous [with] sacred messages and prophecies.’
Blair Gopher, a member of the Blackfeet and Ojibwe tribes, said a female calf was a sign more women should hold positions of authority.
‘Our women have been abused, and we need to pray for better leadership in this country,’ she said. ‘Women will lead, and we must respect them.’
The National Buffalo Association puts the birth of a white buffalo calf at one in every 10 million births, while the Montana Historical Society says its closer to one in every five million.
With the advent of selective buffalo breeding on private ranches, though, it’s now closer to one in a million.
‘The whiteness is a recessive gene,’ wildlife biologist Craig Knowles told the paper. ‘But it’s important to know that some of them don’t retain their whiteness as adults.’
Buffalo coats are almost always brown, and their skin is usually dark brown or black.
A blue-eyed white buffalo named Big Medicine (seen here) was born on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation in 1933
After his death in 1959, Big Medicine was stuffed and mounted and remains on display at the Montana Historical Society
White buffalo may result from albinism, an absence of pigment that remains throughout their life, or it may be due to a genetic condition that causes a calf to be born white but turn brown within a year or two.
They may also be leucistic, with white fur but blue eyes.
White buffalo can be lucrative for ranchers, Knowles added, as some will pay handsomely to breed a white bull and white cow.
A blue-eyed white buffalo named Big Medicine was born on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation in 1933.
His arrival was also celebrated by local tribes, who saw it as a symbol of their efforts to recover the decimated buffalo population.
After his death in 1959, Big Medicine was stuffed and mounted and put on display at the Montana Historical Society.