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Indians name zoo's white buffalo

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  • Indians name zoo's white buffalo

    Indians name zoo's white buffalo
    By Carol Kekela
    The Herald-Standard - 24 December 2006

    FARMINGTON, PA - He was named Kenahkihinen, which means "watch over us.''

    The white baby buffalo, born on the mountaintop on Nov. 12 at the Woodland Zoo in Farmington, Pennsylvania was officially named during a spiritual ceremony Saturday, conducted by several American Indians who traveled from all over the United States.

    Oblivious to what was going on in his surroundings, the unique white calf, believed by the Indians to be a "sacred animal," was spirited throughout the ceremony, running alongside his parents in their confine, never leaving their sides, while more than 500 people gathered on a hillside for the ceremony and the anticipated naming.

    As the ceremony began, several Indian women chanted with ritual drumming while a hearth fire burned, providing the "smudge," the cleansing smoke, offered to the crowd.

    Wynne Brown of the Cherokee Indian Tribe and a resident of Gibbon Glade opened the ceremony, introducing speakers under a bright blue sunny sky with moving soft white clouds.

    Fayette County Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink welcomed the American Indians from across the nation, as well as the several hundred people who gathered to witness the ceremony and see the baby bison firsthand.

    "This is representative of our county - we are a proud county,'' Zimmerlink said. "It is symbolic of Fayette County as it stands for 'peace, fortune and unity.'''

    The belief of the sacred white buffalo comes from the American Indian legend of the White Buffalo Woman, the prophetess who was sent to her people by the Creator to teach them how to communicate with the deity through the prayer pipe.

    "She appeared in a vision to two Sioux Indian scouts many years ago, promising them help to begin a process of developing a sacred regard for themselves and for others," related by a representative of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.

    "When she left the scouts, promising to return again, she transformed in a buffalo calf of different colors - red, brown, white and black. The birth of the white buffalo would signal her return,'' she said.

    "There have been many white bison born in North America over the centuries," she related, "and it is with great joy that we are here for this new birth.''

    Sonny and Jill Herring, owners of the Woodland Zoo, hosted the event.

    "I am happy to see so many people come out for this,'' said Sonny Herring. "This is not only exciting for us but for everyone who will visit the zoo.''

    The Herrings said the white buffalo calf was born on Nov. 12 and news of its birth quickly spread throughout the American Indian communities.

    The Lenape Indians, indigenous to the Fayette County area, from the Standing Stone Village, offered three names to the zoo for the sacred calf. The Herrings chose Kenahkihinen, which the Herrings said would be nicknamed, "Kenny."

    The Herrings said the birth is very unique because buffalo are rarely born in the fall. Most calves are born in the spring.

    Brown, an alternative medicine physician who moved to Fayette County nearly three decade ago from North Carolina, greeted the new bull shortly after its birth with what she called a "traditional way to move into communication with soul and spirit,'' a ritual that had her turning in all directions with her eyes closed as if in a trance. He said each movement is a salute to the four directions, east, west, north and south, as well as "Father Sky'' and "Mother Earth.''

    The baby bison lives among several unique animals in the zoo, including albino deer, hyena, white tiger and wolf.

    "This white buffalo means that a time of understanding that connectedness is here for all to receive," she said. "The white buffalo birth reminds us, 'Now is the time to learn to live in harmony.'''

    "Be good, be kind, help each other."
    "Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

    --Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Historian
    Indians name zoo's white buffalo
    By Carol Kekela
    The Herald-Standard - 24 December 2006

    FARMINGTON, PA - He was named Kenahkihinen, which means "watch over us.''

    I had offered to name it Skippy, but "watch over us" is probly better....
    There is only one success; to be able to live your life in your own way.


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