Native Americans mark birth of rare white bison


A white bison calf drinks water at the Mohawk Bison farm in Goshen, Conn. Sioux tribal elders from South Dakota are expected to attend naming ceremonies later this month at the Goshen farm where the animal was born on June 16. (Mike Groll/Associated Press)
July 28, 2012

The birth of a white bison, among the rarest of animals, is bringing Native Americans who consider it a sacred event to a farm in New England.

Hundreds of people, including tribal ­elders from South Dakota, are expected to attend naming ceremonies soon at the ­Connecticut farm of Peter Fay.

Native Americans have come with gifts of tobacco and colored flags for Fay and the bull calf since it was born last month, and Fay is planning to offer his hay field as a campsite for the expected crowds.

“They say it’s going to bring good things to all people in the world. How can you beat that? That’s the way I look at it,” Fay said.

Connecticut farms host only about 100 bison, a tiny fraction of the numbers in Western states such as South Dakota, the home of Sioux tribes that attach the greatest spiritual meaning to white bison.

Word spread rapidly after the arrival of the white bison, which experts say is as rare as one in 10 million, and Fay invited Native Americans to his farm. In turn, he and his two daughters were asked to participate in the celebrations, which will include a feast and talks by the elders.

Marian White Mouse, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe in South Dakota, said 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. (American bison are also called buffaloes.) White Mouse’s family of four will be in Connecticut for the ceremonies.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I would ever come in contact with [a white bison] in my lifetime,” she said.

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