White Buffalo Calf Woman

Image of White Buffalo Calf Woman at the Sioux Spiritual Center in Howes, South Dakota

White Buffalo Calf Woman (Lakȟótiyapi: Ptesáŋwiŋ)[1] or White Buffalo Maiden is a sacred woman of supernatural origin, central to the Lakota religion as the primary cultural prophet. Oral traditions relate that she brought the "Seven Sacred Rites" to the Lakota people.

Buffalo are considered sacred to many of the Plains nations, who often consider them linked to creation, medicine and bringers of sacred messages from the ancestors.[2]


The traditional story is that, 19 generations ago, there was a time of famine. The chief of the Lakota sent out two scouts to hunt for food. While the young men travelled they saw a white cloud in the distance. Then, from the cloud, they saw a woman. As they approached, they saw that it was a beautiful young woman in white buck skin. She had dark hair, skin and eyes. One of the men was filled with lust for the woman. He approached her, telling his companion he would attempt to claim her as a wife. His companion warned him that she appeared to be a sacred woman, and to do anything sacrilegious would be dangerous and disrespectful. The man ignored the other's advice.

The second man watched as the first approached and embraced the woman, during which time the cloud enveloped the pair. When the cloud disappeared, only the mysterious woman and a pile of bones remained. The bones were the remains of the man. The remaining man was frightened, and began to draw his bow. But the holy woman beckoned him forward, telling him that no harm would come to him, as she could see into his heart and he did not have the motives the first man had. As the woman spoke Lakota, the young man decided she was one of his people, and came forward.

At this time, the woman explained that she was wakȟáŋ (holy, having spiritual and supernatural powers). She further explained that if he did as she instructed, his people would rise again. The scout promised to do what she instructed, and was told to return to his encampment, call the Council, and prepare a feast for her arrival. She taught the Lakota seven sacred ceremonies to protect the Mother Earth and gave them the čhaŋnúŋpa, the sacred ceremonial pipe.


Rapper Magneto Dayo and The Lakota Medicine Men did a tribute song called "The Journey" explaining the story of "The Buffalo Calf Woman" on his album Royalty of the UnderWorld (2016).[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ullrich, Jan. (2008). New Lakota Dictionary. Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 0-9761082-9-1."
  2. ^ Schilling, Vincent (2014-10-28). "Our Brothers and Sisters: 5 Sacred Animals and What They Mean in Native Cultures". Indian Country Today Media Network.com. Retrieved 2016-02-27.


  • Walker, James R.: Lakota Belief and Ritual (University of Nebraska Press, 1980, ISBN 0-8032-2551-2 ; Bison Books, 1991 ISBN 0-8032-9731-9)
  • Powers, William K.: Oglala Religion (University of Nebraska Press, 1975,1977; ISBN 0-8032-8706-2)
  • Pickering, Robert B. : Seeing the White Buffalo. (Denver Museum of Natural History & Johnson Books), 1997; ISBN 1-55566-181-5 & 1-55566-182-3.
  • Ullrich, Jan. (2008). New Lakota Dictionary. Lakota Language Consortium. ISBN 0-9761082-9-1.

External linksEdit