From: Scattered Leaves: The Legend of Ghostkiller Date: 15 Jan 2008, 06:37 AM
Cheyenne tribal member, Reverend Jay Swallow’s, amazing surprise is the birth of a white buffalo calf.
Photos courtesy of Susan Duff-Duff Ranch, KS.
Internet sources state White Buffalo Calf Woman’s legend is ancient, arising about 2000 years ago, and is central to the spiritual practices of numerous Native American nations.
Various, but similar, versions of the legend of White Buffalo Calf Woman are told. A more popular version of the legend is as follows: While two warriors were out hunting buffalo, a white buffalo calf appeared. As the calf approached them it changed into a beautiful young woman . . . which is how it came to be called the White Buffalo Calf Woman.
During her appearance one of the young warriors offended her with his lustful thoughts, and she asked him to approach. As he stepped forward, a black cloud descended over him and when it dissipated all that was left of him was his bones. The other warrior fell to his knees and began to pray. She told him to return to his people, telling them she would appear to them in four days, bringing with her a sacred bundle, and this she did, appearing to them as a white buffalo calf descending on a cloud.
Stepping down, she rolled over on the ground; changing from white to black, then yellow, to red, representing that regardless of color we are all children of Mother Earth. Once again she arose into a beautiful woman, now cradling the sacred bundle in her arms. Spending four days with the people, White Buffalo Calf Woman taught them sacred songs, dances, and ceremonies as well as the traditional ways. She also instructed them to be responsible caretakers of the land, and to always be mindful that the children are the future of the people. On the fourth day she left in the same manner she had arrived, telling the people she was leaving the sacred bundle, the White Buffalo Calf Woman pipe, in their care. She promised to one-day return for it and to bring harmony and spiritual balance to the world. It was told that next time there is chaos and disparity, she would return as a White Buffalo Calf.
This recent birth could have a person ask him/her – what are legends, and are there any truths to them?
The Wandikipedia, a free Internet encyclopedia, describes the term “legend” as Latin, for “legenda” meaning "things to be read." It is also considered a created theory, in speech, writing, and images that describes a sequence of real or unreal events of human actions that are perceived both by teller, and listeners to take place within human history, and to possess certain qualities that give the tale truth likeness.
Internet sources also indicate that with the astronomical amount of injustices suffered by Native Americans across the country, many choose to cling to this legend of the White Buffalo, as a hope that there will be an end to suffering, whereas others view the birth of a white buffalo as merely an interesting, and rare occurrence.
In all probability it comes down to – what do you believe?
Sand Creek descendent Jay Swallow came into this world while his parents, Mary Littlebear Spottedcalf, and Earnest “Thunderbear” Swallow were still living in a government issue “wall tent” located at twelve-mile point, by the old Fort Reno Remount station near El Reno, Okla. in 1939.
Swallow’s mother said, spring was in the air, and soft rains had been falling – awakening the earth with hope of the beautiful flowers, and colorful foliage that only river setting could produce.
Known throughout the settlement as a midwife, Swallow’s aunt, Annie Vanhorn predicted that he would be a male child. She requested, and received permission to give him his Indian name “ Roaming Buffalo.”
In the early 1950s Vanhorn shared with her nephew why she had chosen “Roaming Buffalo” as his Indian name.
“I knew you would be a symbol of hope to many tribes in North America,” Vanhorn stated.
Swallow said, “In early days, when the buffalo herds would return from migration there was always one to lead them back to the graze lands; it was considered the roaming buffalo. The hunters would seek this bull so they could find the rest of the herd, allowing them to provide for all the tribe.”
Providing for all of the tribe is something Swallow has been doing most of his life. He has been involved in missionary work for numerous years, and is highly respected in the church community. His tireless efforts helping others has been recognized, and admired by his peers, and to show their appreciation, in 2006 the Kansas Prayer Network and the OK Concert of Prayer invited him to Wichita KS.
Swallow said, they wanted to present him with a gift. Feeling honored he agreed to attend. After arriving the people involved began to discuss the faithful work he had done over the years, and how they wanted to bless him with something special. He became curious, and was excited to see what it was. A short time later he was told it was a buffalo.
“ I thought it was a sculpture or painting. My friend sitting next to me began to smile, and asked do you want to see it? I said yes, and they said you will have to go outside” Swallow said.
When he got outside, standing in a large stock trailer was a 2000-pound male buffalo.
“The first thing I thought was – what am I going to do with a 2000-pound buffalo? I guess I could butcher, and eat him, and have the hide tanned for a souvenir. I really had no idea what I was going to with this wonderful gift,” he said.
“After some time had passed I began to feel quite good about the whole string of events that led to this gift, and even though I didn’t have a clue what to do, I decided to keep him. We made arrangements for him to live on his home ranch.” said Swallow.
A year passed, and another surprise came his way. A group from Texas wanted to honor him again. This time they wanted to bless him with a female buffalo.
“At that time I had no idea they were doing this a second time,” he said.
The group had decided to surprise him at a conference held in Wichita Kan. During the conference he was shown a slide show presentation that brought his gift into the room, it was the female buffalo.
“I was nearly floored when they presented her to me, but I was really taken by surprise when the presentation continued to show that second beautiful gift had given birth to a white buffalo calf,” he said.
When his friends purchased the female buffalo they did not know she was pregnant. They kept the birth of the white calf a secret for four months until a DNA purity test was done confirming the calf was actually a white calf, and not an albino. When the test came back confirming the calf was an authentic white calf they proceeded with the honor ceremony.
“ This is definitely a sign of renewal, and hope to me.”
“ By sharing this news with the tribe, I feel we are seeing the light at the end of a dark tunnel. There needs to be a turn around, and I believe the Lord is going to allow justice, and balance to our tribe, also allowing health to come back so we can stand and survive together,” he said.
The 6-month-old white calf is also a female; she has grown her caps, and is learning to wallow. She and her mother are currently living on the Duff Ranch located between Scott City and Oakley, Kan., which is about 250 miles south west of Wichita.
Swallow has not named the mother or calf as of yet. He has decided to let the Cheyenne and Arapaho people absorb the miracle birth, and then he will seek the guidance of the elders, in what he hopes to be a naming ceremony.
He, and his peers are tossing around a few ideas, and raising money to acquire more land to expand the area for his and the Duff herd. As for the male buffalo he was also named “Roaming Buffalo” and, Swallow has definitely decided not to eat him, he said.