Signs of the TImes – 2 White Bison Calves

Rare White Bison Calves Born In Kansas & Texas In The Same Week: “A Sign Of Better Times Coming”

White bison born in Kansas

What’s more rare than one white bison being born? How about two white bison being welcomed into the world in the same month?

The National Bison Association says that these bison births are truly unique. The odds of an all-white bison being born is about one in ten million. That’s about the same odds that you have of becoming President of the United States… though this might be the year to enter into the election with the choices we have.

But anyways, the birth of one of the white bison took place in Kansas on May 25th, and if you were looking for good news today, the birth of this bison and what it might mean just might be enough:

“The prophecy of the White Buffalo Woman is the most significant prophecy of the Lakota people. Others like Comanche and Navajo also see it as a sign of things changing in the world and better times coming.

A symbol of hope, and honoring that which is sacred, this is a reminder to pray and remember your relationship with the Creator, just as the White Buffalo Woman taught the Lakota people to pray with the 7 sacred ceremonies over 19 generations ago. And if the prophecy is true, many major changes this year will lead us to a better relationship with the Earth, with each other and with the Great Spirit in the sky.”



Good vibes!

And let the good vibes roll, because around the same time that the above birth took place, another white bison was born in Burnet, Texas. If white bison are supposed to bring good luck and prosperity, the American people are seemingly in good shape. This bison, named Unatsi (Cherokee word for “snow”), was the offspring of two blonde bison. Another calf that was born along with the white one matched its parents coat.

“Meet Unatsi. A rare white bison calf born about a week ago in Burnet! You can see here – two blonde moms, same blonde dad, two different calves.”


White bison are believed to represent harmony and peace, and I’m going to choose to be excited that two were born close to the same time in Kansas and Texas. Let’s have a year people… the bison have spoken!

White House to Discuss with American Indians

The White House Wants Government Consultations with 567 Native American Tribes

The Dakota pipeline protests have brought treaty rights into the national spotlight. Now the federal government may finally start to honor them.
In what is being hailed as a “historic” move, the Obama administration invited hundreds of Native American tribes on Friday to particpate in consultations in order to find solutions to protect and honor treaty rights and ensure meaningful consultations for any infrastructure project that may affect tribes.

The U.S. Departments of the Army, Interior and Justice sent the invitation for government-to-government consultations following a Sept. 9 decision to halt any construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal lands. The 1,168 mile pipeline extending across four states from North Dakota to Illinois has drawn the ire of Native American tribes who say their treaty, land and cultural rights are being violated by the project – which they say they were also not properly consulted on. As a result, thousands of tribal members from across the country, along with supporters, have been camping out in North Dakota, as well as protesting in other states, in what has been described as the largest Native American mobilization in decades.

“The Obama Administration’s call for national reform on this issue is a historic moment,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, adding, “This invitation is a good start but the government has a lot more to do to permanently protect the millions of people who rely on the Missouri River for water and who are put at serious risk because of this pipeline.”

Federal agencies are looking for “meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions, to protect tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights.”

“Recent events have highlighted the need for a broader review and consultation as to how prospectively, Federal decision making on infrastructure projects can better allow for timely and meaningful input,” read the letter inviting tribes to a number of consultation sessions around the country.

Many of these issues have been deep and ongoing concerns of groups in opposition to the controversial US$3.7 billion pipeline, which is set to cross federal and private lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Thousands have stood in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who say that the pipeline will damage the local environment and contaminate local water supplies, specifically the Missouri River, and run through Native American sacred sites, including burial grounds.

“We have already seen the damage caused by a lack of consultation. The ancient burial sites where our Lakota and Dakota ancestors were laid to rest have been destroyed,” said Archambault. “The desecration of family graves is something that most people could never imagine.”

The invitation was extended to all 567 federally recognized tribes on behalf of a number of federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice.

“We understand that Tribal Nations’ voices must be heard, in a timely and meaningful way, with regard to Federal decisions that could affect their treaties, homelands, environment, cultural properties, and sacred sites,” the joint agency letter said.

The first of seven consultation sessions are planned to start on Oct. 11 across Arizona, Washington, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Native American tribes and environmentalists have vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline until the project is permanently suspended.


Helping Native Women deal with Assault

A self-defense model focused on rediscovering strength rather than putting up your guard helps Native American women heal from sexual assault.
Lakota Women Self Defense Class

Patty Stonefish can take down a fully grown man by his finger. She makes it look graceful—a skillful flick of the wrist and her 220-pound husband, Dereck, drops straight to his knees. Patty, a 26-year-old joint-lock ninja of Lakota heritage from North Dakota, has been studying taekwondo for more than a decade. She knows dozens of complex hapkido sequences that can immobilize opponents. But for demonstrations like the one she is doing tonight, she keeps it simple: single-action moves with names that women can remember in a panic, like grandma’s grip, jazz hands, and, in this case, single-finger takedown. Most people start timidly, afraid of pushing too hard, but Patty urges them to act like they mean it—anyone who apologizes has to drop and do squats.

Based in Fargo, North Dakota, Patty and Dereck are kicking off a series of self-defense workshops in a local community center through their project, Arming Sisters/Reawakening Warriors. Their first group is small, with just three participants—two adults and a preteen girl. Dacia, 41, of North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Tribe, said she’d never heard of the program before seeing the event advertised by the tribal center.

Before launching into the hapkido moves, Patty and Dereck talk through the impacts of generational trauma in Native American communities. Dacia keeps coming back to the point that strikes her most: You have the power to change your own life.

Patty launched the original program in 2013 to offer Native American women a self-defense model that was more about rediscovering strength than putting up your guard. This year, she and Dereck are trying to expand, launching workshops for men and boys on masculinity. Together, they have led more than 25 trainings around the country, from reservations to college campuses. In Patty’s words, the workshops focus on putting the “self” back in self-defense. Many Western approaches put people on guard against the world, she says. “I wanted women to rediscover what’s powerful in themselves.”

Lakota Women Self Defense

Patty Stonefish’s tattoo is of the Arabic word “horreya,” which means “freedom.” She spent years in Egypt during and after the Arab Spring, watching women take their place on the frontlines of Tahrir Square. “I got it because, especially as a Native, freedom got ruined for me,” she says of the tattoo. “Egypt gave me the true definition back.” Photo by Dan Koeck.

That means common self-defense principles—like verbalizing boundaries and removing yourself from dangerous situations—are applied much more broadly. “Removing yourself” could mean anything from crossing to the other side of the street to leaving a relationship after years of abuse. And while you might come away with some useful tricks to thwart an attacker, the hope is that the physicality and communion will also rekindle a belief in yourself. “You are strong,” Patty tells women. “You are awake.” Only individuals can re-empower themselves, Patty says: The “re” in these sessions is central. When you realize you can take down a man like Dereck with one move, she says, you begin to think, “I’m strong—I’m not only physically stronger than I thought, I’m emotionally stronger than I thought.” Maybe strong enough to break cycles of violence and trauma.

That means common self-defense principles are applied much more broadly.

Patty, who as a preteen survived an assault by two White men, long internalized her own trauma; she didn’t tell anyone for years. “I wouldn’t say it out loud even to myself,” she says. She hears similar stories during the talking circles that follow her workshop’s trainings. Sometimes women, emboldened by one another, share their stories for the first time.

About one-third of Native American women are raped during their lives, according to the Department of Justice, and some activists think that number is much higher. “Lots of women will tell you they don’t know anyone who hasn’t been raped,” says Sarah Deer, a Muscogee (Creek) professor at William Mitchell College of Law who has studied violence against Native American women for decades. And they are most likely to be assaulted by non-Native men. Eighty-six percent of sexual assaults against Native American women are perpetrated by members of other races, a fact that sets them apart from White, Black, and Latina women. These rapes are rarely prosecuted: Under federal law, tribes have no jurisdiction over non-Natives; federal prosecutors, who could charge attackers, usually don’t.

Patty and Dereck Stonefish Lakota

Patty and Dereck Stonefish’s marriage tattoos connect when they grip forearms—the best way, they say, to pull someone up easily. Photo by Dan Koeck

A few hundred miles west of Fargo on the Fort Berthold Reservation, an oil boom began around 2009, attracting thousands of non-Native workers. Advocates became so concerned about Native women’s vulnerability to violence that a national Native American coalition petitioned the United Nations to investigate human rights abuses.

Stonefish’s expanded program’s “warrior” track encourages conversations among men and boys that challenge what Dereck calls the “colonial” approach to masculinity that emphasizes glory through violence and war. Instead, Dereck explores a traditional view of warriors who care for their people, often at great sacrifice. “We try to show boys how we traditionally valued women as the core and pillars of our community,” he said.

This is the second time Brande Redroad, an 11-year-old also from the Spirit Lake Tribe, has participated in the program. Tonight, she came with her mother, Tanya, 41. She’s vocal with her opinions, comfortably says no when she doesn’t want to try a particular move, and shows her strength easily when she does. “I always knew I had the power in me. I just didn’t know how to express it,” she said. “No one really showed me how to use it until now.” Her mother nods. “We’re going to be talking about it all the way home.”

This article is part of a larger project funded by a grant from Images and Voices of Hope.


Myth of the White Buffalo Woman

Cover image

Lakota dancer ›

Lakota dancer

White Buffalo Woman

This is a central myth of the Plains tribes, especially the Lakota, or Sioux. It tells how the Lakota first received their sacred pipe and the ceremony in which to use it. It has often been related, for example by Black Elk, Lame Deer and Looks for Buffalo.

In the days before the Lakota had horses on which to hunt the buffalo, food was often scarce. One summer when the Lakota nation had camped together, there was very little to eat. Two young men of the Itazipcho band – the ‘Without-Bows’ – decided they would rise early and look for game. They left the camp while the dogs were still yawning, and set out across the plain, accompanied only by the song of the yellow meadowlark.

After a while the day began to grow warm. Crickets chirruped in the waving grass, prairie dogs darted into their holes as the braves approached, but still there was no real game. So the young men made towards a little hill from which they would see further across the vast expanse of level prairie. Reaching it, they shielded their eyes and scanned the distance, but what they saw coming out of the growing heat haze was something bright, that seemed to go on two legs, not four. In a while they could see that it was a very beautiful woman in shining white buckskin.

As the woman came closer, they could see that her buckskin was wonderfully decorated with sacred designs in rainbow-coloured porcupine quills. She carried a bundle on her back, and a fan of fragrant sage leaves in her hand. Her jet-black hair was loose, except for a single strand tied with buffalo fur. Her eyes were full of light and power, and the young men were transfixed.

Now one of the men was filled with a burning desire. ‘What a woman!’ he said sideways to his friend. ‘And all alone on the prairie. I’m going to make the most of this!’

‘You fool,’ said the other. ‘This woman is holy.’

But the foolish one had made up his mind, and when the woman beckoned him towards her, he needed no second invitation. As he reached out for her, they were both enveloped in a great cloud. When it lifted, the woman stood there, while at her feet was nothing but a pile of bones with terrible snakes writhing among them.

‘Behold,’ said the woman to the good brave. ‘I am coming to your people with a message from Tatanka Oyate, the buffalo nation. Return to Chief Standing Hollow Horn and tell him what you have seen. Tell him to prepare a tipi large enough for all his people, and to get ready for my coming.’

The young man ran back across the prairie and was gasping for breath as he reached his camp. With a small crowd of people already following him, he found Standing Hollow Horn and told him what had happened, and that the woman was coming. The chief ordered several tipis to be combined into one big enough for his band. The people waited excitedly for the woman to arrive.

After four days the scouts posted to watch for the holy woman saw something coming towards them in a beautiful manner from across the prairie. Then suddenly the woman was in the great lodge, walking round it in a sunwise direction. She stopped before Standing Hollow Horn in the west of the lodge, and held her bundle before him in both hands.

‘Look on this,’ she said, ‘and always love and respect it. No one who is impure should ever touch this bundle, for it contains the sacred pipe.’

She unrolled the skin bundle and took out a pipe, and a small round stone which she put down on the ground.

‘With this pipe you will walk on the earth, which is your grandmother and your mother. The earth is sacred, and so is every step that you take on her. The bowl of the pipe is of red stone; it is the earth. Carved into it and facing the centre is the buffalo calf, who stands for all the four-leggeds. The stem is of wood, which stands for all that grows on the earth. These twelve hanging feathers from the Spotted Eagle stand for all the winged creatures. All these living things of the universe are the children of Mother Earth. You are all joined as one family, and you will be reminded of this when you smoke the pipe. Treat this pipe and the earth with respect, and your people will increase and prosper.’

The woman told them that seven circles carved on the stone represented the seven rites in which the people would learn to use the sacred pipe. The first was for the rite of ‘keeping the soul’, which she now taught them. The remaining rites they would learn in due course.

The woman made as if to leave the lodge, but then she turned and spoke to Standing Hollow Horn again. ‘This pipe will carry you to the end. Remember that in me there are four ages. I am going now, but I will look on your people in every age, and at the end I will return.’

She now walked slowly around the lodge in a sunwise direction. The people were silent and filled with awe. Even the hungry young children watched her, their eyes alive with wonder. Then she left. But after she had walked a short distance, she faced the people again and sat down on the prairie. The people gazing after her were amazed to see that when she stood up she had become a young red and brown buffalo calf. The calf walked further into the prairie, and then lay down and rolled over, looking back at the people.

When she stood up she was a white buffalo. The white buffalo walked on until she was a bright speck in the distant prairie, and then rolled over again, and became a black buffalo. This buffalo walked away, stopped, bowed to the four directions of the earth, and finally disappeared over the hill.

Buffalo in the Badlands

A lone bull buffalo in the Badlands