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White Buffalo-Calf Woman

A Short Call

(Montana Territory – 1876)

Night in the Indian village consisted of smoke, quiet conversations, and other odds and ends of the day’s goings-on. Bren, nestled in her buffalo blanket, sleeping next to Wichapi, heard the lonesome hoot of a horned owl somewhere in the forest.

“Wichapi…” Bren whispered in a hushed tone. No answer.

Embers of the day’s fire still glowed faintly in the darkness, a few stars visible through the teepee’s flap.

“Wichapi…” Bren said more urgently, shaking her slightly. Still nothing.

By now, Bren, starting to feel uncomfortable, put aside all semblance of subtly, saying, “Wichapi! Wake up!”

The groggy Indian princess stirred, then said sleepily, “What?”

Later, returning from the woods, Bren said, “Thank you, I hate coming out here by myself at night.”

“No problem,” Wichapi said as she lay back down, rolling up in her buffalo hide.

Who are you?

As Bren began dozing, Wichapi asked, “Bren, who are you?”

Half asleep, Bren said without thinking, “Seraph Hunter.”

“What kind of animal is that?” the Indian maiden asked.

Bren, beginning to snore, didn’t answer. In the darkness, Wichapi drew close, gently stroking Bren’s golden locks until she, too, fell asleep.

The new girl

Life in the village was strange, yet comfortable. What amazed Bren is how clean everything smelled. After growing up in the 1600s in England, she came to expect less than sanitary conditions. These are not savages at all, she thought, but highly civilized people with a well thought out society.

Bren, the only white woman some had ever seen, was a local celebrity, finding herself the center of many conversations. Women mostly asked where she was from, what about her kin, how did she come to be there, etc. Men, on the other hand, tended to be respectful and keep their distance. If braves did speak, it was to ask if she needed anything.

When answering questions, Brenzel usually kept her replies vague, especially when it came to how she came to be in the territory. Many women assumed she was taken in a raid as a young child, for how else could she know their language so well? Others said, with a knowing look and hushed tone, “She is the White Buffalo-Calf Woman.”

White Buffalo-Calf Woman

One day, as Bren walked along the river with Wichapi, braves trailing at a respectful distance, Brenzel asked, “Wichapi, who is the White Buffalo-Calf Woman?”

Falling silent for a moment, as if gathering her thoughts, the young maiden said, “Our ancestors speak of a woman who came to us long ago during a time of great hunger. Two braves were sent out to find food, and as they walked they saw a cloud in the sky. As they watched, a beautiful woman, not much older than a girl, stepped from that cloud.”

Bren, very interested, said, “Please, go on,” as Wichapi, lost in her thoughts, had fallen silent again.

“As the braves watched the beautiful woman approach, one of them felt that she was a holy woman, while the other wanted to take her by force as his wife. When the man with bad intentions approached her, the cloud surrounded them both and, when it fled, only the young woman and a pile of bones remained.”

Bren exclaimed, “Serves him right! He got what he deserved!”

Wakȟáŋ (Holy)

Wichapi continued, “The White Buffalo-Calf Woman explained to the remaining brave that she was “Wakȟáŋ”, a holy woman and that she had come to instruct them so that, if people obeyed what she spoke, their tribe would rise to greatness again.”

Walking and talking until the sun began sinking towards the mountain tops, Wichapi explained the seven ceremonies the beautiful woman taught them and the sacred peace pipe that she left with them until one of the braves insisted they return to the safety of the village.

Looking glass

Up on the ridge above the village, stealthy as a big cat stalking its prey, Derek slowly removed his spyglass from its pouch. Glancing up at the blue sky, the crouching man judged the sun’s position, making sure the light wouldn’t reflect off the brass and give his position away.

With one eye closed and looking hard with the other, he steadied his arm on a nearby rock. Under his breath, Derek exclaimed, “What in tarnation?” as a sea of teepees came into focus. Larger, by far, than any encampment he’d ever seen, Derek surveyed what must have been close to a thousand wigwams dotting the vast meadow below. Men, women, and children went about their daily activities, unaware that they were being surveyed from on high. Derek thought to himself, “My God, the whole Lakota nation must be on the move.”

Hotter than Hades

Just then, the back of his hair stood up, just like something had moved past him. Turning around swiftly, guns drawn, only empty wilderness greeted him. Though it was hotter than Hades in the direct sun, a shiver ran down his spine After a few moments, guessing he was just a might nervous, he picked up the spyglass and resumed his reconnoiter.

Trying to get a better guesstimate of the tribe’s size, Derek carefully counted the teepees. The density of the camp belied its true size and the final tally was more like 1800 to 2000 tents. These Injuns are fixin’ to do something, Derek thought gravely.

Lowering his glass slightly, he surveyed the river in front of the sea of tents. Two braves, in buckskin, walked together. Then, his gaze moving a little further up the riverbank, he exclaimed, “What in the Sam Hill?!. . . .”