|Readily known for its massive head, fur-covered shoulder hump (which makes
him look as if he has half-shrugged his shoulders), the bison is a formidable
Various hunting methods were used by the Native Americans to enjoy the
bounty of bison. One method was the “buffalo jump.” Essentially the animals
were stampeded and force buffalo over a cliff. This is an easier said than done
activity as the Buffalo was not known for skittishness and being easily driven to
stampede. Many of the western states have a bluff or cliff with a sloping back
called “Buffalo Jump.” When buffalo was hunted and killed by Amerindian
peoples every part of this great gift was used. Buffalo gave skins for a wide
variety of uses from robes to wear or hides for sleeping. Buffalo hide was used
to make clothing. Buffalo meat is rich and ideal for jerking and was used to
make pemmican and other “travel food.” Nothing went to waste. Bones
became utensils once they had been split and the nourishing marrow removed.
The brain could be used to tan the hide. The hooves were turned into glue.
Buffalo provided all.
Buffalo tradition in the Lakota Tribe includes the tale of the White Buffalo Calf
Woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the Lakota the sacred pipe and
the power of prayer. Through the sacred pipe she showed them the importance
of prayer. The pipe itself was as symbolic as the smoke and tobacco it used.
The pipe bowl as receptacle was feminine energy. The tobacco itself was
imbued with the energy from both genders. The stem of the pipe represented
masculine energy and was symbolic of the male fertilizing the female. White
Buffalo Calf Woman showed the Lakota that the Great Spirit could be
connected with through the coming together of male and female. The
connection to the divine energy was considered sacred and personally intimate.
During the ceremony as the pipe is loaded, honor was given to every member of
fauna, they are requested to share the medicine of the pipe by entering into it
and adding it’s medicine to the prayer and praise being given to the heavens.
After the pipe is lit, the smoke is prayer in physical form wafting its way to the
Most traditions hold the White Buffalo the most sacred. Rare in occurrence,
the White Buffalo is nearly an animal of fable and myth. Legends attached to
the White Buffalo include that when the White Buffalo returns she will herald
the resurgence in power of the Native American. Her abundance will finally be
theirs again. White Buffalo medicine is considered exceptionally strong.
The Buffalo has long been a symbol of abundance and prayer. Buffalo reminds
us to honor the Great Spirit, Supreme Being, Spirit Nation, or Powers That
Be. The massive shoulders of the buffalo indicate her ability to store energy
and maintain good health. Her sacred tie to the Native American is easily seen
in the oral histories and tribal traditions.
The American philosophy of Manifest Destiny and westward expansionism
nearly spelled the doom of great buffalo. Young cowboys and cowgirls today
still thrill to stories of the great buffalo hunters – For over a century we have
celebrated the exploits of Wild Bill Cody and Buffalo Bill. The railroad was
interested in feeding the large work crews of men needed to push the metal
beast through. Hunters were hired to kill the buffalo not only for it’s food but
also to destroy the menace. Over a ton of four legged animal on a railroad
track is dangerous. A whole herd of beasts of that size crossing in front of a
train is disastrous! In his greed for more land, crossing the continent and
settling the nation from sea to shining sea, the Victorian era American nearly
caused the extinction of the mighty Buffalo.
But, true to her Totem’s energy, true to her own power, true to the associations
she has carried over the ages, Buffalo has survived. Although she no longer
runs in massive herds across the vast expanses, she still survives and her
population is growing. Her strong ties to the Native American are seen in the
recent transfer of care of a herd of Buffalo to the Salish-Kootenai Tribe of
northwestern Montana. The tribe fought long and hard, battling up hill all the
way to be able to care for Buffalo. Now the tribe cares for and manages an
entire herd, preserving not only Buffalo, but their personal and tribal heritage
The Bison reminds us that sustenance is there for us, all we have to do is ask.
We have to realize that when we ask for help in prayer we must be open to the
answer that we receive. Bison/Buffalo medicine reminds us to take what we
get and be happy with it. Buffalo also reminds us that in order to receive we
must ask in the appropriate manner. Hence Buffalo reminds us to spend time in
Those to whom Buffalo has granted her abundant totem need not fear for lack
of physical needs. Buffalo reminds us that if we plan properly, observe our
beliefs, and take time for prayer and asking for the help that we need, our
prayers will be answered. The test for those with Buffalo Totem is finding the
path of least resistance, much like buffalo does as she wanders across the wide
Buffalo energy is powerful energy. Buffalo energy reminds us that no matter
who we are, no matter what we are trying to manifest it is through asking for
assistance from the Great Spirit that our greatest good will come. Buffalo
knows when it is time to seek the warm places as the winter nights get cold.
Buffalo invites us to remember the warm places that can be found when we have
the affirmation of prayer to sustain us. Buffalo energy speaks about abundance
from a well laid foundation.
Under the Christian ethic Buffalo energy could best be described as “The Lord
Helps Those Who Help Themselves.” Buffalo reminds us that we are
interconnected with all other living things. Buffalo energy is the energy created
through right thought, right action and right deed. Buffalo calls to us to
prepare our foundations properly. Buffalo’s cycle of power doesn’t diminish
throughout the year. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, Buffalo calls us to prayer.
Through prayer we outwardly recognize our connection with a higher power.
Through that connection and just and appropriate action on our part Buffalo
tells us we will have what we need. Some with Buffalo energy around them
miss the bounty that is before them. Buffalo calls to us to create the future of
our dreams through proper action and prayer, followed by recognition that we
will be provided with what we need.
|Max Ehrmann said it best: “You are a child
of the Universe, no less than the trees and
the stars, you have a right to be here.” The
Above totem animal is the one that will help
|you stay connected with your place in the Universe and
your connection and interrelationship with all other living
things. The Above animal also guards the sleeping mind
and is considered to be the guardian of the dream time,
allowing you your own personal access to other plans
and/or dimensions. (For our purposes, although the
technical difference is understood and appreciated, for
ease of understanding bison/buffalo will be used
Technically, the semi-shaggy large herd animal that
roamed the American west in herds so large you could
purportedly walk across the entire of the Great Plains
on their backs without touching the ground is a bison.
Called Buffalo, this great beast is solid passive strength
personified. The bison can weigh more than a ton, some
of the larger specimens topping a ton and a half.