White Buffalo in Distance Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic on wood 7 x 20 inches
ARTNOTES: Shuffling Off to Buffalo
On Wednesday,we flew from Orly West airport, just south of Paris, France to Newark, New Jersey, USA. At Orly, there is an Animal Intake Counter, where one checks one’s pet. We milled about the airport for an hour before turning Harika over to the handlers. We walked up and down the sizzling sidewalk with her encouraging relief, breathing second hand smoke from people who were having a hard time giving up their cigarettes and cigars while airborne. We saw an African albino girl, in a family of blacks; ladies in skimpy flowered dresses heading to Provence; and at least a dozen other dogs, not including the “sniffers”, who later checked all our carry-on before entering the plane.
Goshen Connecticut is home to a white buffalo. Born on 16 June, this one-in-10-million occurrence has drawn the attention of Indian tribes throughout North America. This weekend, eight hundred Indians congregated for the “naming” of this significant beast.
Just a twenty minute drive from Hemlock Lodge (where we vacation in Winsted) we drove in the early morning to check out the scene. Men in braids and feather jewelry, who were wearing sleeveless tee-shirts rode their motorcycle to the rural New England town. There were camping vehicles with names like “powwow palace” and “heart and spirit of the buffalo “ . We spoke to an Indian woman and her daughter who’d driven from south of Toronto for this event. I was just interested in seeing the bison, and the little white one, which we did. I painted a quick picture of the setting, which was extraordinarily beautiful in the early morning light.
As I stood at the fence, people spoke in soft, hushed voices, clearly awed by this rare event. Goshen is a farming community, but with the feeling of a somewhat uptight New England town. It is the last place one expects to see Indians from the northern Midwest of the continent.
The Indians believe the calf to be a sign from a prophet, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, who helped the Lakota endure times of strife and famine.
Since we’ve been here in Connecticut (an Indian name), the temperature has been 90 degrees and humid, making it debatable whether we’re better off braving the sun to swim in the lake or staying on the porch in the shade. Otherwise we have violent thunderstorms, with lightning piercing the sky from side-to-side. My nephew says that’s because the ground isn’t sufficiently positively charged, whatever that means.
We took my nephews to pick blueberries at the u-pick lot. I was overcome by how beautiful the bushes and berries were: deep green leaves on 5 foot bushes, dotted with berries in shades of pale green, pink and deep purple.
At 8:30 AM there was already a small crowd. We’d been up since 5:30 when Harika hears the skunk that lives under the porch returning home. The Elders, who were to receive the special naming information from the spirit the night before were expected between 10 and 12. We’d already tempted fate in the face of the sign which clearly read “no pets” – so we didn’t stay for the actual naming ceremony of Yellow Medicine Dancing Boy.