Prophecy Fulfilled? White Bison Calf Born in Yellowstone Park

Jun 13, 2024

Reflect: What important lessons can animals and nature teach us about the environment? 

For many, the birth of any calf in a herd of endangered bison is a cause for celebration. On June 4, though, a photographer in Yellowstone National Park encountered a new arrival that’s being viewed as prophetic.  

“I look and it’s this white bison calf. And I was just totally, totally floored,” Erin Braaten told The Associated Press (AP).

Braaten snapped plenty of pics of the cute little bison. She made sure to keep her distance from the herd. That's because bison weigh up to 2,800 pounds and can be dangerous if approached. She posted the pictures online. They quickly caught the attention of local Lakota Indigenous leaders.

“The birth of this calf is both a blessing and warning. We must do more,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse told the AP. He's the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, and the Nakota Oyate in South Dakota.   

White bison are extremely rare. Their appearance points to a moving Lakota prophecy. It holds that 2,000 years ago, a woman appeared to the Lakota peoples during a time of famine and loss. She offered them a bowl pipe. When used with the proper prayers, it was said it could bring bison and good fortune back to the region. After granting her gift, the woman turned into a white bison calf. She promised to return if times ever got hard again.   

The Lakota have already held a secret naming ceremony for the calf. A celebration is planned for June 26. Looking Horse and the Lakota peoples hope that the tiny calf means better times. But they also see it as a message: our duty to protect the environment continues.    

 Photo of white bison calf courtesy Erin Braaten on Facebook.

What is the main idea of the fifth paragraph? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. White bison are very rare and important in Lakota culture.
b. The Lakota people used a bowl pipe to bring prosperity.
c. A woman appeared to the Lakota people during a famine.
d. The appearance of a white bison calf is a sign of hard times returning.
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