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White buffalo are American bison (American buffalo) that are considered to be sacred signs in several Native American religions, and thus have great spiritual importance in those cultures and are visited for prayer and other religious ceremonies. Buffalo are normally brown in color; white buffalo can result from one of several physical conditions:

  • They may be leucistic, with white fur but blue eyes, instead of the pink seen in albinos.
  • They may have a rare genetic condition which causes a buffalo to be born white, but to become brown within a year or two as it matures.
  • They may be albinos, in which case they will remain unpigmented throughout their lives, and may also have hearing and vision problems.
  • They may be beefalo, a bison-cattle crossbreed, and thus have inherited the white coloration from their cattle ancestry.

White buffalo are extremely rare; The National Bison Association has estimated that they only occur in approximately one out of every 10 million births.

Individual white buffalo

United States and Canada

  • In 1833, a white bison was killed by the Cheyenne. The skin of this bison is hanging on the wall of Bent's Old Fortmarker in Colorado. The Cheyenne killed this white bison during the Leonid Meteor Shower (The Night the Stars Fell) and scribed a peace and trade treaty on its skin. This event was documented by historian Josiah Gregg and other travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

  • On October 7, 1876, a Scottish buffalo hunter named J. Wright Mooar killed a white buffalo in the Deep Creek drainage near Snyder, Texasmarker. He retained the hide his entire life, despite reports that Teddy Roosevelt offered him $5000 for the hide. White Buffalo Park is presently located near the site of the shooting, and an adjacent ranch is the current resting place of the hide.

  • A bison named Big Medicine (1933-1959) was born in the wild on the National Bison Rangemarker on Montanamarker's Flathead Indian Reservation. The name "Big Medicine" was chosen due to the sacred power attributed to white bison. Following his death in 1959, his body was preserved and is now displayed at the Montana Historical Society.

  • A white buffalo was recorded at the U.S. Army Arctic Testing Center, Fort Greely, Alaskamarker. There is a copyrighted photograph of it in Seeing the White Buffalo by Robert Pickering. This buffalo was part of a herd that had been relocated from Montana.

  • A female named Miracle (not to be confused with Miracle Moon), was born at the family farm of Dave, Valerie, and Corey Heider near Janesville, Wisconsinmarker on August 20, 1994. Her fur fully transitioned to brown as she matured, and she gave birth to four calves of her own before dying of natural causes on September 19, 2004. Sioux tribal members had continually visited their farm since the birth of Miracle. Additionally, a calf born at the Heider farm died aged 4 days in 1996. A third white calf was born in August 2006 which died after being struck by lightning in November of the same year.

  • Spirit Mountain Ranch in Flagstaff, Arizonamarker has successfully bred three generations of white buffalo starting from a single white female, almost all with brown fathers. Their herd includes eleven white animals as of May 15, 2008:
    • Miracle Moon (female, born April 30, 1997), calf of Big Momma (brown),
    • Rainbow Spirit (female, born June 8, 2000, calf of Miracle Moon)
    • Mandela Peace Pilgrim (female, born July 18, 2001, calf of Miracle Moon)
    • Arizona Spirit (male, born July 1, 2002, calf of Miracle Moon)
    • Sunrise Spirit (female, born May 22, 2004, calf of Mandela Peace Pilgrim)
    • Spirit Thunder (male, born May 27, 2004, calf of Rainbow Spirit)
    • Chief Hiawatha (male, born May 16, 2005, calf of Miracle Moon)
    • Our Lucky Star (male, born June 10, 2006, calf of Big Momma)
    • White Spirit (male, born June 10, 2007, calf of Sunrise Spirit)
    • Happy Spirit (female, born May 4, 2008, calf of Miracle Moon)
    • Dena's Pride 'n' Joy (female, born May 15, 2008, calf of Big Momma)
    • On June 4, 2006, Miracle Moon gave birth to Little Dream Walker, a snow white baby (albino), sired by Arizona Spirit. This was the first white to white breeding. He died on June 6, 2006, due to albinism.
    • Miracle Moon (the first white of this line) has been DNA tested, and is shown to be 100% buffalo, or bison.

  • A male white buffalo named Spirit of Peace was born on April 17, 2005, on the Blatz Bison Ranch in Fort St. John, British Columbiamarker. Spirit of Peace died on June 1 of the same year, probably as a result of his premature birth.

  • A female White Buffalo calf was born in Shelbyville, Kentuckymarker on June 3, 2005 at Buffalo Crossing, a buffalo ranch and tourist facility located. She was named Cante Pejute (Medicine Heart in the Lakota language) in a traditional ceremony led by Steve McCullough, a Lakota/Shawnee from Indiana.

  • A male named Blizzard was born in March 2006 on the farm of an anonymous rancher, who arranged to have the calf transported to Assiniboine Park Zoomarker in Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker in recognition of his spiritual significance to aboriginal people.

  • A third white buffalo was born on the Heider farm (see "Miracle" above) on August 25, 2006. The male calf was named Miracle's Second Chance and was unrelated to Miracle. The Heiders planned to breed the male with the descendants of Miracle, but during a thunderstorm late November 26, 2006, five buffalo on the Heider farm were killed in a lightning strike, including Miracle's Second Chance.

  • On May 31, 2008, a third white calf was born to a normal brown two-year-old at the National Buffalo Museum, Jamestown, North Dakotamarker.


  • In April 2009, an Albino buffalo was discovered and photographed at the Hell's Gate National Parkmarker in Kenyamarker. Nelly Palmeris, the senior warden at Hellsgate stated that this was the first time that an Albino buffalo had been found in Kenya. However, there is reportedly considerable concern for the welfare of the buffalo; in addition to the fact that its lighter colour will make it a more noticeable target for predators, there is a cultural stigma against albinos, both animal and human, among the Maasai farmers that live near the park. The warden explained that "The African community and especially Maasais associate albinos with bad omens." Consequently, park rangers have increased security around the herd that the buffalo is travelling with.

In popular culture

  • A white buffalo and crossed swords is used as an alternate logo for the NHL team, Buffalo Sabres. The alternate logo is modeled after the franchise's original logo, used from 1970-1996. A white buffalo head was used from 1996-2006.
  • The heavy-metal band Saxon performed a song called "The Great White Buffalo"
  • Singer/songwriter Jacob Smith - "The White Buffalo"
  • The birth of a white buffalo is featured, as an omen of change, in the Season 3 X-Files episode, "Paper Clip".
  • A white buffalo is featured in the flag of Wyomingmarker
  • Ted Nugent wrote and performed a song called "Great White Buffalo"
  • The new-age band Cusco wrote a song called "White Buffalo" for their album Apurimac III
  • The heavy-metal band Running Wild wrote a song called "White Buffalo" for their album Pile of Skulls
  • The White Buffalo is a 1977 film starring Charles Bronson.
  • "White Buffalo" was an episode of the series Walker, Texas Ranger
  • "White Buffalo Calf Song" by Pipestone Creek Singers
  • White Buffalo National Youth Leaderships Training is also run every summer by the Greater Niagara Frontier Council Of the Boy Scouts of America in Western New York
  • Singer/songwriter Leela Grace - "White Buffalo"
  • Country band Western Underground's 2008 release "Unbridled" contains a song titled "White Buffalo"
  • "White Buffalo Rising" is the name of a Wyoming soccer documentary produced by historians George and Darril Fosty
  • In the movie Santa's Slay, Santa's only "reindeer" is actually a white buffalo.
  • Jon Anderson, lead singer of Yes, wrote a song called White Buffalo sometimes in the late 1990s or early 2000s, originally intending it to be part of a follow-up to his first solo album Olias Of Sunhillow, which was to be based on Anderson's interpretations of Native American legends and was actually never recorded. White Buffalo was performed live by Anderson during his 2004 solo tour and is featured on the Tour Of The Universe DVD. The concept of the song is the belief that the birth of a white buffalo will announce a new age of world peace.

See also

  • White Buffalo Calf Woman
  • Pickering, Robert B., Seeing the White Buffalo. Denver Museum of Natural History & Johnson Books. 146 pgs. (hb & pb)., 1997.


  1. See Buffalo Sabres 1980s

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