Legend of the White Buffalo

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The White Buffalo are sacred to many Native Americans. The Lakota (Sioux) Nation has passed down the The Legend of the White Buffalo–a story now approximately 2,000 years old–at many council meetings, sacred ceremonies, and through the tribe’s storytellers. There are several variations, but all are meaningful, and tell of the same outcome. Have communication with the Creator through prayer with clear intent for Peace, Harmony and Balance for all life living in the Earth Mother.

Spirituality among Natives Americans and non-Native Americans has been a strong force for those who believe in the power of the Great Spirit or God.

It matters not what you call the Creator. What matters is that you pray to give thanks for your blessings and trust the guidance given to you from the world of Spirit. Many truths about Spirit are told and handed down from one generation to the next.

The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman tells how the People had lost the ability to communicate with the Creator. The Creator sent the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman to teach the People how to pray with the Pipe. With that Pipe, seven sacred ceremonies were given for the people to abide in order to ensure a future with harmony, peace, and balance.
Legend says that long ago, two young men were out hunting when from out of nowhere came a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. One of the hunters looked upon her and recognizing her as a wakan, or sacred being, lowered his eyes. The second hunter approached her with lust in his eyes desiring her for his woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman beckoned the lustful warrior to her, and as he approached a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust settled, nothing but a pile of bones lay next to her. As she walked toward the respectful young hunter, she explained to him that she had merely fulfilled the other man’s desire, allowing him, within that brief moment, to live a lifetime, die and decay. White Buffalo Calf Woman instructed the young man to go back to the People and tell them to prepare for her arrival to teach them of the way to pray. The young hunter obeyed. When White Buffalo Calf woman arrived with the sacred bundle (the prayer pipe) she taught the People of the seven sacred ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind and spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one’s life; and the Sundance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People.

When the teaching of the sacred ways was complete, White Buffalo Calf Woman told the people she would again return for the sacred bundle that she left with them. Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the People in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land. She walked a short distance, she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose they were amazed to see she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signaling the fulfillment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.

The changing of the four colors of the White Buffalo Calf Woman represents the four colors of man–white, yellow, red and black. These colors also represent the four directions, north, east, south and west. The sacred bundle that was left to the Lakota people is still with the People in a sacred place on the Cheyenne River Indian reservation in South Dakota. It is kept by a man known as the Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, Arvol Looking Horse.

The legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman remains ever promising in this age of spiritual enlightenment and conscious awareness. In today’s world of confusion and war many of us are looking for signs of peace.

“With the return of the White Buffalo it is a sign that prayers are being heard, that the sacred pipe is being honored, and that the promises of prophecy are being fulfilled. White Buffalo signals a time of abundance and plenty.” (from Sams and Carson, Medicine cards)

Though harsh as the world we live in may be throughout recorded history there have been spiritual leaders teaching peace, hope and balance (synergy) amongst all life. This was taught by great teachers such as Jesus, Buddha, the Dali Lama’s, and Native American leaders.

Chief Crazy Horse, Chief Seattle, and Chief Red Cloud are a few of the visionary leaders who committed their lives to bring peace, and internal happiness to all who they touched. They were tangible signs of goodwill toward all men, women and children.
Legend courtesy Jim and Dena Riley

Native American Jewelry

Native American Code Talkers

Native American Code Talkers

Despite the tragic events of American history in which American Indian nations were forced to always defend themselves and fight for their rights, many American Indian men and women ended up serving in all branches of the military to honorably defend their homelands and the United States.

During World War I and World War II, hundreds of American Indians joined the United States armed forces, and at the request of the U.S. government, developed and memorized a special code from their traditional tribal languages to serve as secret battle communications to confuse the enemy.

After WWII, they became known as “Code Talkers”. The Code Talkers’ role in war required intelligence and bravery and they endured some of the most dangerous battles while remaining calm under fire. They served proudly, with honor and distinction and their actions proved critical in several important campaigns. They are credited with saving thousands of American and allies’ lives. The enemy was never able to decipher the coded messages they sent.

World War Warriors

Native Americans cared about their communities and the lands on which their people had lived for thousands of years. Many of them also served out of a sense of patriotism, wanting to defend the United States. For some American Indians, the military offered economic security and an opportunity for education, training, and world travel.

More than 12,000 American Indians served in World War I—about 25 percent of the male American Indian population at that time. During World War II, when the total American Indian population was less than 350,000, an estimated 44,000 Indian men and women served.

American Indian Code Talkers were communications specialists. Their job was to send coded messages about troop movements, enemy positions, and other critical information on the battlefield. Some Code Talkers translated messages into their Native languages and relayed them to another tribal member. Others developed a special code within their languages that they used in combat to send important messages.

Native Languages Used in Code Talking

During World War I and World War II, a variety of American Indian languages were used to send secret military messages. Here are the American Indian Code Talkers’ languages and the numbers of tribal members who served, if known. There were at least two Code Talkers from each tribe.

World War I: Cherokee, Cheyenne, Choctaw (15), Comanche, Osage, Yankton Sioux

World War II: Assiniboine, Cherokee, Chippewa/Oneida (17), Choctaw, Comanche (17), Hopi (11), Kiowa, Menominee, Muscogee/Creek and Seminole, Navajo (about 420), Pawnee, Sac and Fox/Meskwaki (19), Sioux – Lakota and Dakota dialects

Recruitment

In World War I, Choctaw and other American Indians transmitted battle messages in their tribal languages by telephone. Although not used extensively, the World War I telephone squads played a key role in helping the United States Army win several battles in France that brought about the end of the war. Beginning in 1940, the army recruited Comanches, Choctaws, Hopis, Cherokees, and others to transmit messages. The army had special American Indian recruiters working to find Comanches in Oklahoma who would enlist.

The Marine Corps recruited Navajo Code Talkers in 1941 and 1942. Philip Johnston was a World War I veteran who had heard about the successes of the Choctaw telephone squad. Johnston, although not Indian, had grown up on the Navajo reservation. In 1942, he suggested to the Marine Corps that Navajos and other tribes could be very helpful in maintaining communications secrecy. After viewing a demonstration of messages sent in the Navajo language, the Marine Corps was so impressed that they recruited 29 Navajos in two weeks to develop a code within their language.

After the Navajo code was developed, the Marine Corps established a Code Talking school. As the war progressed, more than 400 Navajos were eventually recruited as Code Talkers. The training was intense. Following their basic training, the Code Talkers completed extensive training in communications and memorizing the code.

Some Code Talkers enlisted, others were drafted. Many who served were under age (just 15) and had to lie about their age to join. Ultimately, there were Code Talkers from at least 16 tribes who served in the army, the marines, and the navy.

Devising the Codes

Many American Indian Code Talkers in World War II used their everyday tribal languages to convey messages. A message would just be translated into the Native language and promptly sent over the radio. These became known as Type Two Codes.

However, the Navajos, Comanches, Hopis, and Meskwakis developed and used special codes based on their languages. These became known as Type One Codes. To develop this type of code, the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers first came up with a Navajo word for each letter of the English alphabet. Since they had to memorize all the words, they used things that were familiar to them, such as kinds of animals. Obviously this type of code was far more complex and created even more difficulty for the enemy to try to decipher.

Creating Special Code Words

Navajo Code Talkers memorized 17 pages of code as part of their training. First, they had to develop a code that the enemies would not be able to translate. Then they had to memorize it. In battle, they had to transmit their messages with the utmost care and accuracy under difficult circumstances. Their work saved lives and helped the United States achieve victories. The Congressional Gold Medal, seen here, was awarded to Navajo Code Talkers in 2001.

The Navajos, Comanches, Hopis, and others also had to develop special words for World War II military terms, such as types of planes, ships, or weapons. They were given picture charts that showed them the items. After looking at the pictures, they came up with words that seemed to fit the pictures.

Sending Coded Messages

On the battlefield, the work of sending coded messages was extremely serious. Being able to keep messages secret could make the difference between winning and losing a battle or affect how many lives were saved or lost. Code Talkers did more than speak into a hand-held radio or phone. They had to know how to operate both wire and radio equipment, and often had to carry it on their backs. They had to know how to set up and maintain the electronic communication wires, or lines. Sometimes their messages were broadcast over a wide area, helping to direct bigger operations. At other times, messages related to a smaller group, such as a platoon.

Code Talkers were given the messages in English. Without writing them down, they translated and sent them to another Code Talker. After the message was transmitted and received, it was written down in English and entered into a message log book. The Code Talkers also sent messages in English. Messages were only coded when absolute security was needed.

WWII Locations

The Navajo and Hopi were assigned to service in the Pacific in the war against Japan. The Comanches fought the Germans in Europe, and the Meskwakis fought them in North Africa. Code Talkers from other tribes fought at various locations in Europe, the Pacific, North Africa, and elsewhere.

Native American Jewelry

Native American Navajo Tribe


Habitat
The Navajo lived in what is now northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. This land contained peaks, grasslands, deserts, and canyons. The Navajo were a nomadic group of people until they came into contact with the Pueblo. They adopted some of the beliefs and customs of the Pueblo including farming, making pottery, and weaving.

Homes
The Navajo lived in homes called hogans. Hogans were round houses built with forkedsticks. The sticks were covered with brush, packed earth, hides, and whatever wasavailable. The front door of the hogan always faced east to catch the first light of themorning sun. Later the Navajo built a six-sided hogan of logs and mud. The hogan alwayshad only one room. Some had tables, chairs, beds, and wood-burning stoves. Outside thehome a loom for weaving was set up. It was brought indoors only in the winter. A corral for the herd of sheep was close by the hogan. Homes were far apart from each other. The Navajo blessed their homes in a special ceremony to bring it good luck and happiness.

The Navajo make their clothing from deerskin. The men wore breechcloths and leggings. The women wore deerskin dresses. Both wore moccasins. After the 1800’s the Navajo men borrowed the style of the Mexicans and wore blankets draped over one shoulder. Their pants ended halfway between their knees and ankles. They decorated the seams of their pants with silver buttons. The women also borrowed the Mexican style of dressing. The women wore woolen dresses made with two blankets stitched together at their shoulders. The women carried their babies in cradle boards, sometimes strapped to their backs. Later the women traded for calico and made big, full skirts.

Traditional women would wear a traditional dress made of cotton material, having three to four tears in the skirt. Her shirt is typically made of velvet or crushed velvet adorned with coin buttons. She will also wear two types of traditional belts, either at the same time or one at a time. That decision is usually made based on the type of event or reason for dressing traditional. The first belt is a woven belt is named “sash belt”, the second, a leather belt, which is worn on top of the sash; this is called a concho belt. The women have no head dresses, rather a Navajo bun positioned on the back of the head.

A traditional man would wear cotton pants, a concho belt, and velvet or crushed velvet shirt. A man and wife will usually wear matching outfits. The only traditional head dress worn is worn by a man. Aside from the Navajo bun, positioned in the back of the head, there would be a scarf, folded to make a long thin (belt looking) scarf. This would be tied above one ear.

Food
The Navajo were primarily hunters and trappers. They hunted deer, pronghorn antelope, and rabbits. Later they became farmers and sheep raisers. The grew watermelons, corn, beans, and squash. They also gathered wild plants, seeds, roots, and berries.

Customs
The Navajo believed in many gods. The most powerful god was Sun Bearer and one of his wives, Changing Women. The land of the Navajo was marked off by four sacred mountains: white mountains, turquoise blue mountain, yellow mountain, and jet black mountain.

The sand painting was constructed on the floor of the hogan by sifting various powdered herbs, sand and other powdery material. The sick person was given a special herb to drink and told to sit in the center of the dry painting. The shaman touched the head of the figure then touched the patient’s had and chanted. This was repeated with each part of the body. The sand painting was removed before sundown and buried beneath trees that stood to the north, south, east, and west of the hogan. If the patient died his/her body was taken out a new door broken through the north side of the hogan and burned.

Around 1600 the Navajo women began to spin and weave wool. The sheep belonged to the women and the horses belonged to the men. The women sheared the sheep. Navajo women learned from the Pueblo how to weave. The early rugs they made were usually striped straight across. Later the women learned to weave a stripe on a slant and to make a diamond shaped design. The first rugs the Navajo made were dyed with leaves, berries, and insects. The frame of the loom was made of four long poles and set up outdoors except in the winter. The rug or blanket was never wholly completed or perfect because the Navajos believed it would offend the spirits.

Silversmithing
The Navajo started silverwork in the late 1800’s. First they hammered Spanish and Mexican coins into silver buttons. The buttons were sewn onto their clothing and cut off when money was needed. After the Treaty of 1868 the Navajo people were given specialized tools for silver smiting. After this they began making jewelry with turquoise stones.
Turquoise Jewelry