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The buffalo is a symbol of abundance.
Historically, Pueblo Peoples crossed the mountains to the north to hunt or trade for buffalo and bring back meat for the long winter.
Like all Animal Dances, the Buffalo Dance is a celebration of thanksgiving. The hunter takes on the spirit of the buffalo he has hunted during the year. He thanks the spirit of that animal, and he asks for good luck for next year’s hunting.
The story of White Buffalo Calf Woman as told by Leonard Crow Dog.
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When the buffalo first came to be upon the land, they were not friendly to the people. When the hunters tried to coax them over the cliffs for the good of the villages, they were reluctant to offer themselves up.
They did not relish being turned into blankets and dried flesh for winter rations. They did not want their hooves and horn to become tools and utinsels nor did they welcome their sinew being used for sewing. “No, no,” they said. We won’t fall into your traps. And we will not fall for your tricks.”
So when the hunters guided them towards the abyss, they would always turn aside at the very last moment. With this lack of cooperation, it seemed the villagers would be hungry and cold and ragged all winter long.