Birth of white bison so rare that it's sacred

  • Updated: July 14, 2012 - 7:02 PM
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A rare white bison on Peter Fay's farm in Goshen, Conn.

Photo: Douglas Healey, Associated Press - Nyt

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If one were asked to pick a typical home where the buffalo roam, the answer probably would not be Litchfield County in northwest Connecticut. But when Bison No. 7 on Peter Fay's farm gave birth to a white, 30-pound bull calf a month ago, it made the Fay farm, for the moment at least, the unlikely epicenter of the bison universe.

For Fay, what happened was an astoundingly unexpected oddity -- white bison are so rare that each birth is viewed as akin to a historic event. (Experts have said one in 10 million bison are white, but the rate could be somewhat higher.)

For Marian White Mouse of Wanblee, S.D., and other American Indians, it is a supremely auspicious message from the spirits. She will fly with her family to Connecticut for naming ceremonies at month's end.

The birth comes at a time when wildlife, tribal and producer groups are lobbying Congress to have the bison officially designated as the national mammal and a national symbol alongside the bald eagle, saying the bison is an iconic part of the American experience. "They're awesome animals, wild, not domesticated," Fay said. "They can deal with anything."

White Mouse, a member of the Oglala Lakota people, said a white bison was believed to be a manifestation of the White Buffalo Calf Maiden, or Ptesan Wi. She said, "They are very rare, and when a white bison is born there is a reason for each one to be here."

NEW YORK TIMES

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