The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman

The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman

by Paul Goble

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The Legend of White Buffalo Woman tells the inspiring story of the first peace pipe, presented to the Lakota people to connect them to the Great Spirit, who will guide them through the hardships of life.


The Legend of White Buffalo Woman tells the inspiring story of the first peace pipe, presented to the Lakota people to connect them to the Great Spirit, who will guide them through the hardships of life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his fluid retelling of the legend of the first peace pipe, Goble (The Return of the Buffaloes) handles sweeping Lakota history succinctly and assuredly, largely due to his compelling artwork. The opening spreads tell of the rebirth of the Lakota people after a flood covers the earth; an eagle rescues a drowning woman, and marries her, and the fruit of their union marks the birth of the new nation. Many generations later, driven from their land, the Lakota set out across the plains in search of buffalo. A beautiful and mysterious woman (the White Buffalo Woman) appears bearing the gift of a pipe that reunites them with their lost Buffalo Nation and with the Great Spirit. Ever sensitive to his audience, Goble handles difficult subjects with finesse. For example, while the spread entitled "Sadness of War" does not gloss over the facts ("Their houses were burned, and they were forced to leave their homeland in the forests"), Goble depicts the battle as if it were a tribal artifact painted on stretched buckskin. This approach stands out in contrast to his other illustrations, full-bleed spreads whose immediacy might have had a more disturbing effect on readers viewing a war scene. Goble's tale is truly for all ages; his message is one of hope for reconciliation among people, for peace and for faith. All ages. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
The Lakota (Sioux) people had struggled and suffered for many years when the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, took pity on them and sent a holy being, the beautiful, mysterious White Buffalo Woman, to bring the peace pipe, and to teach them about its power and uses. Striking, color paintings add to the appeal and value of this picture book, which would be appropriate for an older audience than the average picture book. The author/illustrator imparts an even greater understanding and knowledge of Lakota culture by integrating traditional prayers and songs into the story. He also adds a map, author's note, a detailed labeled drawing of a peace pipe, a list of some meanings related to the pipe and information on the National Monument, Pipestone Quarry.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6According to his author's note, the legend of the White Buffalo Woman who brought the Sacred Calf Pipe to the Sans Arcs Lakotas is the most important of all the Lakota legends. Goble retells the story in episodes, beginning with a flood that wipes out the old worlds, then moving to the founding of a new world descended from the single survivor of the flood, a young woman who marries the eagle that rescues her. The red pipestone of the Sacred Calf Pipe is said to be the transformed bodies of the people who drowned in the flood. Goble's crystalline illustrations spread across the double pages, each a model of design, clarity, and balance. From the roiling clouds of the flood scene to the brilliant stylized sun that accompanies White Buffalo Woman, the paintings convey both mood and motion. Goble notes that the pipe portrayed is not the Sacred Calf Pipe, which should never be reproduced, a tangible reminder of the enduring respect the author/illustrator demonstrates in his work. While the sophistication of the story and the episodic nature of the narrative may limit the book's audience, visually it is one of Goble's most stunning offerings to date. A list of references, a detailed description of the components of a pipe and their symbolism, and a note about Pipestone Quarry round out this beautifully presented book.Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Goble (The Return of the Buffaloes, 1996, etc.) prefaces the story of the first pipe, "the most important of all Lakota sacred legends," with a Great Flood legend, then appends an account of the meaning attached to the pipe and its parts, along with a finely detailed drawing of a pipe in his possession. In a time of troubles, a mysterious woman comes walking across the prairie. The first man she meets tries to rape her and is blasted into bones; the second she sends as a messenger, so that the people are ready when she presents to them the Sacred Calf Pipe. After her transformation into a white buffalo calf, the buffalo has one more gift, the red stone that is still an integral element of all traditional pipes. Drawn just above ground level and clad in spectacular ceremonial costume, Goble's stylized figures seem appropriately larger than life, and the Lakota prayers and comments he quotes further enhance the reverent tone. (map, glossary, notes) (Picture book/folklore. 7-11)

Product Details

National Geographic Society
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
8.81(w) x 10.75(h) x 0.13(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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