White Buffalo Woman

Visit the art of Cher Lyn at Mystic Art Medicine

Visit the art of Cher Lyn at Mystic Art Medicine

A very long time ago, they say, two scouts were out looking for bison. When they came to the top of a high hill and looked north, they saw something coming a long way off, and when it came closer they cried out, “It is a woman!” and it was. Then one of the scouts, being foolish, had bad thoughts and spoke them; but the other said: “That is a sacred woman; throw all bad thoughts away.”

When she came still closer, they saw that she wore a fine white buckskin dress, that her hair was very long and that she was young and very beautiful. And she knew their thoughts and said in a voice that was like singing: “You do not know me, but if you want to do as you think, you may come.” And the foolish one went; but just as he stood before her, there was a white cloud that came and covered them. And the beautiful young woman come out of the cloud, and when it blew away the foolish man was a skeleton covered with worms.

Then the woman spoke to the one what was not foolish: “You shall go home and tell your people that I am coming and that a big tepee shall be built for me in the center of the nation.” And the man, who was very much afraid, went quickly and told the people, who did at once as they were told; and there around the big tepee they waited for the sacred woman. And after a while she came, very beautiful and singing, and as she went into the tepee this is what she sang:

With visible breath I am walking.
A voice I am sending as I walk.
In a sacred manner I am walking.
With visible tracks I am walking.
In a sacred manner I walk.
And as she sang, there came from her mouth a white cloud that was good to smell. Then she gave something to the chief, and it was a pipe with a bison calf carved on one side to mean the earth that bears and feeds us, and with twelve eagle feathers hanging from the stem to mean the sky and the twelve moons, and these were tied with a grass that never breaks. “Behold!” she said. “With this you shall multiply and be a good nation. Nothing but good shall come from it. Only the hands of the good shall take care of it and the bad shall not even see it.” Then she sang again and went out of the tepee; and as the people watched her going, suddenly it was a white bison galloping away and snorting, and soon it was gone. This they tell, and whether it happened so or not I do not know; but if you think about it, you can see that it is true.
—Black Elk
John G. Niehardt, “Black Elk Speaks