Montana photographer captures ‘mind-blowing’ images of rare white bison reportedly born at Yellowstone

Montana photographer captures ‘mind-blowing’ images of rare white bison reportedly born at Yellowstone

A photographer who was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a rare white bison calf that was reportedly born at Yellowstone National Park has shared images of the potentially sacred sighting.

Erin Braaten of Dancing Aspens Photography in Kalispell, Montana, captured the moment while visiting the Lamar Valley section of the park, the photographer and mom of eight told Fox News Digital.

“We came around the corner, and there was a bison down in the river and in the front of us [where we] were stopped. And, behind us there was this kind of white light critter out there, and I thought maybe it was a coyote,” Braaten said.

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“I lifted my camera. I keep it on my side while we’re through the park just in case something exciting happens…[I] just looked through it, and it was definitely not a coyote but a white bison calf.”

Montana photographer captures ‘mind-blowing’ images of rare white bison reportedly born at Yellowstone

A Montana wildlife photographer captured photos of a rare sighting while at Yellowstone National Park with her family. (Erin Braaten: Dancing Aspens Photography)

Braaten and her husband, along with her three youngest children, made it through traffic before turning around and heading back to the location where she saw the rare calf.

“[Capturing this photo] is like one of those things you kind of daydream [about and think], ‘Oh that would be kind of cool to take a picture of,’ but never really expected to get a chance,” Braaten said.

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What makes the sighting even more interesting is its link to a sacred prophecy from the Lakota tribe.

rare white bison calf photo

Erin Braaten caught a glimpse of something white and thought it was a coyote, before she pulled out her camera and realized it was a rare white bison calf. (Erin Braaten: Dancing Aspens Photography)

The birth of this rare white bison is believed to mean that “better times” are ahead, but there may even more to that idea.

“The birth of this calf is both a blessing and warning. We must do more,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and the Nakota Oyate in South Dakota told the Associated Press (AP).

Chief Looking Horse, who is also the 19th keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe and Bundle, compared the birth and sighting of the white buffalo calf with its black nose, black eyes and hooves to the second coming of Jesus, the AP reported.

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About 2,000 years ago, at a time in which bison were disappearing and food was running out, the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared and presented a tribal member with a bowl pipe and a bundle before teaching Lakota people how to pray, according to the Lakota legend. 

She said the pipe could be used to bring in buffalo to their area for food. When she left, she turned into a white buffalo calf.

“And some day when the times are hard again, I shall return and stand upon the earth as a white buffalo calf, black nose, black eyes, black hooves,” Chief Looking Horse told the AP, referencing the legend.

Because of the calf’s black eyes, it appears to be a true white bison and not an albino, which would have pink eyes and discolored hooves.

There has not been any sort of tracking or quantification of previous white bison, so there is no real number regarding how often it may occur.

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Braaten said she knew that the bison was something rare and worth capturing.

rare white bison Yellowstone split

The white bison calf is believed to be a sacred symbol to the Lakota tribe – meaning “better times” are ahead. (Erin Braaten: Dancing Aspens Photography)

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“That’s why we turned around so fast, because it was like, ‘Wow.’ You just you don’t see this every day,” she said.

The birth of the white buffalo calf has captured the attention of all people, from nature enthusiasts to photography lovers.

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“It was very surreal…it was kind of mind-blowing, you know?” Braaten said.

“I think we were all kind of freaking out a little bit. It was just so neat to have my kids there and my husband…It was quite a moment, that’s for sure.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Yellowstone National Park for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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