News of the birth of a white bison is spreading among American Indians, inspiring pilgrimages to what many tribes believe is a sacred animal.
"This is like the second coming of Christ on this island of North America," said Floyd Hand, a Sioux medicine man from Pine Ridge, S.D. "The legend is she would return and unify the nations of the four colors - the black, red, yellow and white."
The white heifer named Miracle was born two weeks ago at the farm in southern Wisconsin where Dave Heider keeps a herd of 14 bison, or buffalo, along with other livestock. He plans to have the heifer tested to see if it is a true albino.
The white bison's spiritual significance stems from its rarity. According to the National Buffalo Association, the likelihood of an albino calf is about one in 10 million.
The estimate is based partly on the rarity of albinism observed in the mid-19th century when 80 million bison roamed the western plains. Relentless hunting reduced the number to about 500 before rescue efforts were undertaken. Today there are about 130,000 bison, most of them in refuges and parks. …