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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. She is identified with the Virgin Mary by Lakota Catholics

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 buckskin. 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, but his advice was ignored.

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 the man's bones remained. 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......