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Tatanka, the buffalo, thundered across the Great Plains and was the most powerful animal faced by hunters.
Standing over six feet tall at the hump and weighing up to a ton, the buffalo was seen as a manifestation of the wisdom and generosity of Wakan Tanka (The Great Mystery). Food, clothing, medicine and shelter – the physical and spiritual needs of the people were met by Tatanka and the identity and existence of the people and the animal were intertwined. A representation of Wakan Tanka, the Buffalo People and Whope, the White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought the first pipe to the Plains People and taught them the sacred ceremonies, serving as conduits for prayers to Wakan Tanka. Skulls were also placed outside of lodges, communicating information about the dwellers inside as well as protecting them.