What Is the White Buffalo Prophecy? Rare Birth Is Both Blessing and Omen for Humanity

The white buffalo's birth must be viewed as "both a blessing and warning."

Lauren Wellbank - Author
By

Jun. 12 2024, Published 3:11 p.m. ET

A black and white photo of a white buffalo amongst a herd of brown buffalo
Source: iStock

Members of the Lakota Sioux are celebrating, after a photographer captured rare images of a rare newborn white buffalo. While the unusual coloring of the buffalo is notable, since the massive animals typically have brown fur, this moment is especially poignant for the tribe, since its members believe that there is a prophecy associated with a white buffalo birth.

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The newborn calf was discovered by a Yellowstone National Park visitor, and set off a chain reaction for those who believe that the buffalo's arrival means that the Lakota Sioux need to double down on their work protecting these animals, who were once so vital for the survival of Indigenous people from the region. Keep reading to learn more about the what the birth of the white buffalo means and how the 2024 prophecy is likely to be carried out.

Buffalo walk through the snow near Yellowstone National Park after winter weather forces them out of their homes
Source: Getty Images
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What is the prophecy of the white buffalo?

The Lakota Sioux believe that the white buffalo is a sacred being, and that spotting one is a sign of "better times," as reported by NBC News.

However, the newborn white buffalo's June 2024 arrival in Yellowstone — the only spot where buffalo can run wild in all of the U.S. — must be viewed as "both a blessing and warning," according to Chief Arvol Looking Horse.

Here's a photo of the horse, captured by photographer Erin Braatan.

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If the prophecy of the white buffalo is supposed to mean good times are ahead, why is it also an omen?

“We've been waiting for this day,” James Holt, executive director with the Buffalo Field Campaign, said in a statement. However, he added: "This is a sign that conducting business as usual in Yellowstone isn't enough."

Holt and Chief Arvol Looking Horse say that the white buffalo has arrived to let them know that the conservation work that they're doing in Yellowstone simply isn't enough, and that they, along with many others, need to do more to protect the wild buffalo and the places they call home. According to the website, some of the things they want to see include additional protections for the mammal, as well as insuring that buffalo have the ability to more freely throughout the park.

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At the time of the white buffalo's alleged arrival in Yellowstone, park officials have regulations that limit the buffalo's access to the millions of acres that surround the park, instead forcing them to remain in a smaller section of the National Forest, where they are allowed to be hunted. But those rules are about to change, according to the Buffalo Field Campaign, who says that the new regulations that are about to be put into place for Montana's buffalos will stifle their freedom for decades to come.

This is one of the reasons that the campaign is using the birth of the calf to prompt others to get involved with their project, which will be highlighted during a ceremony that is set to take place in West Yellowstone on June 26, 2024, according to The Guardian.

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Officials are hoping to spot the white buffalo calf again.

While park officials have yet to confirm the arrival of the sacred calf, photographer Erin Braatan was able to capture a few snaps of the baby when she spied them cruising around with the rest of the heard at the start of June. Braatan told an ABC News affiliate how she and her family marveled over the rare sight, spending at least a half hour watching the baby and mother interact before taking off.

While she knew at the moment that she was witnessing something amazing, Braatan confessed that she wasn't able to find the buffalo again during subsequent visits to the park. Hopefully this means mom and baby are just tucked away somewhere safe together, as the humans around them prepare to celebrate this special moment.

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