The Legend of The White Buffalo

Many years ago, the Seven Sacred Council Fires of the Dakota were gathered in an encampment, ravaged by famine. Two scouts were sent out by the camp to hunt for food in the area. While they were travelling, the two men came upon a beautiful woman wearing an outfit of white buckskin. The first man saw the woman as a potential mate and wife. The second man warned that the woman seemed more sacred and holy, and that to approach her in such a way would be sacrilegious.

The first man did not heed the second man’s warning, and approached the woman. As he attempted to embrace her, the two were surrounded by a thick, white cloud. Many moments passed, and when the cloud finally dissipated, the man had disappeared. In his place lay a pile of dust and bones at the woman’s feet.


Stunned, the second man began to draw his bow but was stopped by the woman. She promised that she did not intend to harm him, and that she was sacred and holy.

The woman explained that her name was Ptesan-Wi, and that she would help the Dakota  people rise to full strength again. She instructed the man to return to his people, call together the chief and council, and prepare a large feast for her arrival. When she arrived at the encampment, she taught the people the Seven Sacred Rites and gifted them the sacred pipe. After she had given them her gifts, she left the people but promised to one day return as a white buffalo.

In March 2010, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation accepted the gift of a rare white buffalo from the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. The white buffalo is a sacred symbol for the Dakota, and its arrival in the community is not only a cherished gesture of friendship and unity between the people of Manitoba and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, but a good omen of peace and prosperity for our community.

The appearance of a white buffalo is a very rare and unique event. Some estimates suggest a birth rate of one white buffalo for every 1 million births. With the population of buffalo in Canada estimated at around 250,000 the appearance of a white buffalo is an even rarer occurrence today.