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How the Sacred Pipe 
Came to the People

Now Playing: 'To All My Relations'
By: Cody Sunbear Blackbird
From CD: Raven Speak
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The Story of 'White Buffalo Calf Woman' as found in:

‘The Bear Tribe’s Self Reliance Book’.

It is almost identical to the story found in

‘The Sacred Pipe’, 
by Joseph Epes Brown as spoken by Black Elk.

(From: ‘Earth People’ Volume 3 Number 1)

Many winters ago, two young friends were out hunting in the time of the morning when the light first touches the earth.  As the first liquid rays descended, they touched a beautiful form and figure, standing on the path the young men would take.  It was a young woman of striking beauty, with her arms folded around a long bundle.

Seeing her, one of the men was struck with desire of the disrespectful sort, and made a couple of lewd comments to his companion, who immediately chastised him, saying, “Do not say such!  Surely she is a sacred person, coming to us in such a manner!”

She beckoned to the young man who had made the disrespectful comments, and grinning back at his companion, he swaggered towards her.  As he approached, a cloud descended and covered them from sight, and when it lifted, nothing was left of him but bones, which were being eaten by snakes of a vile aspect.  The other young man shuddered, for he knew that the snakes were the desires, which would eventually eat up all those who lived for the world of the senses alone.

Stepping forward, she said to him, “Always remember what you have seen on this day!  I have come to speak with your chief, Standing Hollow Horn; go to him and say that I have words of great importance for him.  He is to prepare a great lodge, and to gather all the people within.  There you and your people will wait for me.”

Speedily the messenger was transmitted, and the lodge, consisting of twenty-eight poles was soon raised.  One of these poles is the ‘key’, and upholds the rest.  In the ways of the Sioux people, this pole represents the Great Spirit, who sustains the universe, which is symbolised by the rest of the lodge.  The people, flushed and excited, soon were gathered together in the lodge, wondering who the mysterious woman was, and what she wished to say to them.

Some of the young men stationed themselves near the door of the tipi where they could keep watch, and shortly excitement rippled through them as the one at the door called, “There is a beautiful movement in the distance!” and then, suddenly, she was there.

Entering the lodge, she walked sun-wise around the fire, and stopped before Standing Hollow Horn.  She pulled forward the bundle which she had slung on her back, and holding it extended in her two hands, said, “Behold this and always love it!  It is very sacred medicine, and no one who is not holy and pure must be allowed to touch it.  Within is a pipe, and with this pipe you and your descendants will send your prayers to the Great Spirit.”

She then unrolled the bundle and removed the pipe and a small stone, which she placed on the ground.  Uplifting the pipe to the sky, she said, “In this way with this pipe shall you walk upon the Earth, your Grandmother and Mother.  Every step should be a prayer, and always remember that She is sacred!  The bowl of this pipe is of her blood and bones; it is a red stone, as red as the blood of your heart.  Carved in the stone and facing the centre is a buffalo calf, who stands for all the four-leggeds of the Earth.  The twelve Eagle feathers hanging here where the bowl joins the stem are from the Spotted Eagle, and thus are all the people of the air represented here also.  The stem, which is wooden, stands for all that grows upon the Earth, and so, when you join your voices with the smoke of the pipe, do all these things pray with you.  In this joining of all your prayers will your voices reach Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, and so you will pray with and for everything when you smoke this pipe."

She then reached downward and touched the foot of the pipe to the stone which lay on the ground, and said, “This pipe joins you to all your relatives, your Grandfather and Father, your Mother and Grandmother.  This round red rock which is also given to you by the Great Spirit is the good red earth upon which you shall flourish and multiply.  The Earth is red, and the two-leggeds are red… you have a red day and a red road.  Those who walk in the Path of the Great Spirit will walk the good red road from the place of the source of Life to the place of Wisdom, which are represented by South and North.  Only those who are interested in Material gains and in gratifying their senses will travel the black road of destruction, which runs East to West, and goes nowhere.  To travel in the Circle of Life you must always strain to travel upwards, and not to be content with travelling the level path.  Do not forget, for all this is sacred!  Every dawn is sacred, and every day… all who move upon the Mother are sacred… you must remember this!”

“Onward from this day will the pipe stand upon the earth, and with it will the people send the sweet smoke with their songs and prayers upward to the Great Spirit.  Remember and be grateful, Standing Hollow Horn; you must be good to your people and to these gifts.  Remember always that you have seven days with which to pray to the Great Spirit as long as you live.”

She turned to leave, but turned back and said, “Behold this pipe!  Never forget that it is sacred.  In me are four ages, and I will look back on my people in each age, and in the end I will return.  Always remember how sacred the pipe is, and treat it as such, for it will carry you to the end.”

And walking sun-wise, she departed from the lodge.  After walking a little way she sat down, and the people rubbed their eyes, for where she had been was now a young red and brown buffalo calf rising from her place.  After a few more steps, the calf lay down and rolled on her back, and rose up a white buffalo.  Once more she walked a few steps and rolled, and this time she became a black buffalo, which walked a few paces, bowed to the four winds of the world, and disappeared over the hill.


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