White buffalo legend comes to life in Turtle Mountains

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 7:33 PM CDT
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BELCOURT, N.D. – The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Tribe has a new addition to their herd that holds cultural significance for many tribes.

After being gifted a white buffalo earlier this month from a Sioux County rancher, tribal members hope to encourage people to visit this symbol of hope and unity.

For tribal members who understand the legend of the white buffalo, they know the significance of having one on their land.

“It’s a legendary story of the Lakota Sioux. Grandmother who passed on, and her spirit went back into Mother Earth and it was said when these white buffalo calves would start to be born, the world would have to pull together to survive,” said Turtle Mountain tribe Tourism Rep. Les Thomas.

Now, people are seeing the legend in person right off of Highway 281.

Caretakers said they are looking to make the park more people friendly to continue encouraging visitors.

“He’s bringing us together closer as people, you have a lot of people hanging up prayer cloths along the way and praying here with him and it’s a good feeling to have him here and have our tribe coming together as one for him,” said Buffalo manager Murton Gillis.

With 70 buffalo that make up the tribe’s herd and only three bulls to breed, caretakers also said they hope to soon have a white buffalo born within the reservation.

“We are adding an additional 15 acres to the south of the park. You know, that should sustain maybe two or three more cows with this bull. Hopefully we get some offspring from him and then we can say that’s our buffalo they belong to us,” said Natural Resources Director Jeff Desjarlais.

A Native American legend coming to life in the Turtle Mountains. Thomas said the tribe is looking into ways to get the public involved in naming the white buffalo which will be done through a special naming ceremony.

Related content:

Selfridge rancher gives Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa a rare 1 in 10-million white bison

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