About 200 people took part in Saturday's ceremony to thank owners of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington for buying the white buffalo and another black buffalo born at the nearby Woodland Zoo in Farmington, which closed last month. The animals are now on a 50-acre parcel on the wooded grounds of the resort, about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Mike "Hawk" Goodfire, appointed by the Lakota tribe as caretaker of the white buffalo, led the program that featured talks from several elder members of the tribe. Nagi White Owl, ambassador of the Sovereign Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, was among those who came from far away to attend.
"We need to open our eyes, our ears and our hearts and come together to respect all," she said. "The white buffalo born to white nations means fulfillment, a coming together of all nations.
The white buffalo "Lightning" and the black buffalo "Thunder" spent the ceremony resting in a wooden sty overlooking the site, occasionally standing at the sound of drums and voices or strolling around the area.
Joe Hardy, founder of both the resort and 84 Lumber, was presented with a feather from a bald eagle as well as Indian blankets.
"This is phenomenal" Hardy said. "I am impressed. This is such a great day for all of us."
The resort also plans to establish an American Indian interpretive center.
In Lakota lore, White Buffalo Woman was sent by the Creator to teach the people to communicate with the deity through the prayer pipe. When she left, vowing to return, she was transformed into a buffalo calf of different colors, and the birth of the white buffalo is said to signal her return.