Beloit Daily News
Monday - September 13, 1999
Heiders' lives changed by Miracle
JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) _ A southern Wisconsin couple has counted 250,000 visitors since a white bison was born on their otherwise quiet farm.
The calf, named Miracle when it was born five years ago, meant international recognition for Dave and Valerie Heider.
``We knew something was strange the morning she was born,'' Dave Heider said, ``but we had no idea.''
The bison's fur has since turned ordinary brown and other colors.
After the birth Aug. 20, 1994, the white fur attracted many American Indians.
They cited legends about a buffalo born white and changing color four times before a prophecy signaling the rebirth of Indian culture.
Miracle has turned brown, black and yellow over the years and is currently blondish brown.
Legend says it will turn white again when there is world peace.
Some visiting Indians have performed sacred ceremonies in the pasture where Miracle grazes.
The original gate to Miracle's corral is covered with thousands of prayer cloths, tobacco pouches and dream catchers left by visitors.
Valerie Heider said some people say they feel so much energy from that corner of the pasture that they cannot stand to be there. Others tell her they feel a heartbeat from the land when they step out of their cars.
One woman from Canada told the Heiders she followed an eagle to their farm.
Non-Indians also come to the farm looking for answers, Valerie Heider said. She said people meditate about their problems near the buffalo's pasture and terminally ill people come to the farm looking for inner peace.
Miracle's birth came early on a Saturday morning. The following week, the Heiders' daughter called to Valerie, ``Mom! There are Indians in our driveway!''
An Oneida man and his family had been at an American Indian ceremony in South Dakota, where he said the spirits told them of the white buffalo's birth.
When the man returned to his home in Black River Falls, he read about the Heiders in the newspaper and immediately drove to their farm.
``Then, we watched him pray to the four directions and for world peace,'' Valerie Heider said. ``He cried right out loud be cause it was so meaningful and so sacred to him. That's when I turned to David, and I said, `There must be something to all of this.'''
Valerie Heider left her job to tend to the visitors and manage a small gift shop dedicated to the white buffalo full time.
Guests have included Gov. Tommy Thompson and a number of Green Bay Packers players.
``We also had three people who said they were Jesus,'' Valerie Heider said. ``The third one had to be escorted away by the Rock County Sheriff's Department.''
Dave Heider said the family thought the commotion would die down a few months after Miracle's birth.
``Now, we know better,'' he said. ``Sometimes, I regret it. We've lost our privacy and we'll never get it back.''