Miracle's lessons taught to children

By Debra Jensen-De Hart
Beloit Daily News staff writer
Beloit Daily News

May 24, 1997

About 450 children in the Rock County area got a chance to experience living history on Friday when they made field trips to the Dave and Val Heider farm in Janesville.

The ``Education Day'' had been set up to allow students to learn more about American Indians, Mrs. Heider said on Friday morning as she began greeting the groups of visitors.

``We studied Native American groups. This is a nice culmination to the unit,'' said Linda Kamla, third-grade teacher at Janesville's Wilson Elementary School.

The Heider farm, where ``Miracle'' the white buffalo was born in August of 1994, has become a special place for Native Americans who have made frequent trips to the residence.

On Friday, Native Americans from several nations including Sioux, Winnebago and Oneida gathered and presented demonstrations of wood carving, flute playing, bead decorating and use of a loom. The story of the white buffalo also was shared by Harry Brown Bear.

``What you see is something far greater than what meets the eye,'' he told the third graders gathered closely around him. Miracle, nearly three years old, whose coat has turned brown, stood fenced in behind the story teller.

The story of the birth of the white, female calf, ``Is like something that has been told for hundreds of years in my mind and in my heart and now in the spirit of you,'' he told the children who listened attentively.

The legend unfolds that two tired hunters looking for game to feed their people suddenly were visited by a whirlwind. The whirlwind became a person, a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. She was to be a symbol _ of hope, of resolution for the troubled village.

The villagers prepared a special lodge for her appearance as they had been told to do and when she next appeared she gave them a sacred pipe ``a tool to send prayers up to come about in a healthy way.'' She also instructed them on seven special ceremonies, so the story goes, and vowed to return some day in the form of a white buffalo.

She became known as white buffalo calf woman.

``There have been others born, but not female,'' Harry Brown Bear said of why Miracle is so special.

``The baby born on Dec. 24 means just as much to people,'' he concluded.

After hearing the story, student Jessica Brown said, ``It really touched my heart.''

The group moved on to a wood carving (totem) display, where Harry Whitehorse explained the artistry of his work. Whitehorse said he had learned the trade from his uncle, who was a silversmith. He also told the students that long ago, buffalo roamed the area and that his ancestors had hunted them.

Kevin Willett, ``Rising Eagle,'' a young man who resides in Janesville, stood before the children in full ceremonial dress and answered questions about the deerskin outfit he made himself.

``This place is cool,'' one student said. ``It's fun listening,'' said another as the sounds of a wooden flute blended in to the natural surroundings around it.
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