Legend says that long ago, two young men were out hunting when from out of nowhere came a beautiful maiden dressed in white buckskin. One of the hunters looked upon her & recognizing her as a wakan, or sacred being, lowered his eyes.
The second hunter approached her with lust in his eyes desiring her for his woman. White Buffalo Calf Woman beckoned the lustful warrior to her, & as he approached a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust settled, nothing but a pile of bones lay next to her.
As she walked toward the respectful young hunter, she explained to him that she had merely fulfilled the other man's desire, allowing him, within that brief moment, to live a lifetime, die & decay.
White Buffalo Calf Woman instructed the young man to go back to the People & tell them to prepare for her arrival to teach them of the way to pray. The young hunter obeyed.
When White Buffalo Calf woman arrived with the sacred bundle (the prayer pipe) she taught the People of the seven sacred ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind & spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one's life; and the Sundance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People. When the teaching of the sacred ways was complete, White Buffalo Calf Woman told the people she would again return for the sacred bundle that she left with them.
Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the People in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land. She walked a short distance, she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose they were amazed to see she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The White Buffalo Calf Woman third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signalling the fulfilment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.
The changing of the four colors of the White Buffalo Calf Woman represents the four colors of man; white, yellow, red and black. These colors also represent the four directions, north, east, south and west.