White Buffalo Calf Woman
The Tales and Legends of the Native American People have fascinated me since I came to America. My wife is an Apache. Her family is from the San Carlos reservation near Clifton, Arizona. Though in times past the myths of the various nations rarely left their boundaries, today they have spread, common links have bound them together and one people’s tale has become the legend of many. This is the case with the legend of Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman and the coming of the Sacred Chanupa.
The Chanupa was thought of by the Europeans, as a “Peace Pipe” This is not strictly true. Though no acts of violence would take place in its presence, this was because of its sacred nature. The main purpose was that it was used in council and while it was a part of the discussion circle, no untruth could be spoken.
This is the Legend as it was told me by a good friend, a Shaman, respected as an Elder by the Apache and other peoples of the south west.
Robby Romero, "heartBeat"
More by Robby Romero and Red Thunder
One morning many winters ago, two of the Lakota were out hunting. They had seen poor luck this far and had climbed a high hill looking for game when they saw something moving towards them. As the figure drew closer they saw it was a woman dressed in white buckskin and carrying a bundle. She was the most beautiful woman the men had ever seen. One of the men had wicked thoughts and decided he would take her and do with her as he wished but the other man said “No! You must not. She is a Wakan” (A holy woman) the man with bad thoughts did not listen and approached the woman. As he did so a great cloud covered them and when the cloud dissipated the woman stood alone. There at her feet was a pile of bones.
She spoke to the other man and told him not to be afraid. She said he was to go to his Chief and tell him to prepare a lodge where all his people could meet for she had something of great importance to tell them.
The young man returned to his Chief and told him what had happened. The chief immediately constructed a great lodge and sent word to all his people that they must gather to hear the words of a holy woman.
When all the people were gathered together the woman appeared. Walking around the lodge sunwise she then stood next to the Chief at the West, in the place of honor.
She raised her bundle to the Chief and said; “Behold this and always love it! It is Lela Wakan, very sacred, and you must always treat it as such. No impure person should ever be allowed to see it, for within this bundle is a sacred pipe. With this pipe you will send your voices to Wakan Tanka, your Father and Grandfather."
Then she took a beautiful pipe from the bundle and a small stone. Holding the pipe with the stem pointing to the sky she said; "With this sacred pipe you will walk upon the Earth; for the Earth is your Grandmother and Mother, and is thus sacred. Every step that is taken upon Her should be as a prayer.”
She went on to explain the meaning of the Pipe;
The bowl of the Pipe is of red stone. This represents the Earth. Carved in the Bowl of the Pipe is a Buffalo calf. It represents all the animals that live on the Earth. The stem of the Pipe is of wood. This represents all that grows upon the Earth. The twelve feathers that hang from where the stem meets the bowl are from the spotted Eagle. This represents all the birds of the air. All the creatures of the Earth are joined to those who smoke the Pipe. For all beings call to Wakan Tanka, (the Great Spirit.) When you pray with this Pipe you pray with and for all beings.
The woman touched the foot of the pipe to the round stone lying at her feet. She said that with this Pipe we are bound to all our relatives. The rock, made of the same stone as the bowl of the Pipe, represents the Earth This is where we and all our relatives live. This is the gift of Wakan Tanka. That the Earth joins us to all our relatives and She is our Mother and Grandmother. .All this is sacred! Never forget! Every dawn as it comes is a Holy event. Every day is Holy, for the light comes from your Father, Wakan Tanka. Also you must always remember that the humans and all the other beings that stand upon this earth are sacred and should always be treated as such.
Taking up the stone she pointed out that it had seven rings. She explained that the seven rings were the seven Sacred ceremonies and she stayed a while and taught them.
One of them was the sweat lodge, or the purification ceremony. One of them was the naming ceremony, child naming. The third was the healing ceremony. The fourth one was the making of relatives or the adoption ceremony. The fifth one was the marriage ceremony. The sixth was the vision quest. And the seventh was the sundance ceremony, the people's ceremony for all of the nation.
She brought these seven sacred ceremonies and taught the people the songs and the traditional ways. And she instructed th people that as long as they performed these ceremonies they would always remain caretakers and guardians of sacred land. She told them that as long as they took care of it and respected it that the people would never die and would always live.
After she had taught the first rite and the seven ceremonies she spoke these words to the Chief;” Behold this pipe! Always remember how sacred it is and treat it as such, for it will take you to the end of time. Remember, in me there are four ages. I will leave now, but I will look upon your people in every age, and at the end I shall return!"
Then, walking sunwise around the Lodge, she left. The people watched her go and as she reached the top of the hill she became a White Buffalo Calf. Bowing to the four directions she disappeared.