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Saturday, June 17, 2017

A History Lesson...

The Wizard was watching 'Dances with Wolves' and got curious about the Sioux and The Lakota People. So I did some research and thought it should go in 'OZ'.. so here it is:

Lakota son

The ways of the Lakota have been passed down from generation to generation, long before the white man first stepped onto North American soil. An important part of Lakota culture focuses on the larger community of their people, as represented by the council fires. For this community of the Great Plains, the buffalo was not only key to Lakota survival, it also held great spiritual significance.

In the tradition of their ancestors, the Lakota family extends beyond the parents and their children: younger generations learn from their elders, who hold the wisdom of the tribe. The Lakota way places an emphasis on home, and spirituality plays a role in every action. Read more about the Lakota traditions that continue to this day among the families of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The People

Michael Littleboy and son

The Lakota people belong to the larger group Oceti Sakowin (meaning "the seven places of fire"), called the Sioux by the white man after the Chippewa (Ojibwa) word for their enemies "nadouessioux," meaning "little snakes." Legend tells that long ago at a sacred lake, Sun (Wi), who appears as fire on earth, revealed the tribal organization to the Sioux people. Thus began the tradition of the seven council fires, the Lakota among them.

Lakota is one of the three similar languages spoken by the Sioux; the others are Dakota and Nakota. The Lakota are made up of seven bands: Oglala ("dust scatterers"), Sicanju (or Brulé, "burnt thighs"), Hunkpapa ("end of the circle"), Miniconjous ("planters beside the stream"), Sihasapa (or Blackfeet, different from the Blackfeet tribe), Itazipacola (or Sans Arc, "without bows") and Oohenupa ("two kettles").

The Buffalo

"We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, the winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild.' ...To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery."
- Luther Standing Bear, chief of the Oglala Lakota, 1905-1939

Lakota people are also called Teton Sioux or Titunwan, meaning "who live on the prairie." The name recalls the migration of the tribe from the woods of Minnesota to the Black Hills of the great plains territories, where they learned to live with the buffalo. On the wide open lands Tatanka, the spirit in the form of the buffalo, provided for both body and soul. Hunters ate the fresh liver of the newly killed buffalo, and boiled, roasted and dried meat nourished the entire village. The Lakota used buffalo hide for clothing, tipis and shrouds for their prayer lodge. They made saddles, tools and weapons from the bones. They carried water in buffalo bladders and used buffalo droppings for incense and fuel. Every part of the animal served a purpose, down to the hooves, which were made into glue. The Lakota would not dishonor the Earth by wasting a single portion of Tatanka's precious gift.

Little Wound, wife and son studio portrait, 1899 (Denver Public Library, Western History Collection)

The Family

Lakota Symbol

"The old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man's heart away from Nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon lead to a lack of respect for humans too."
- Luther Standing Bear, chief of the Oglala Lakota, 1905-1939

Kinship is central to the Lakota way of life. Courage, fortitude, wisdom and generosity are among the most celebrated virtues. The Lakota learn these traits from their elders and prove them in their daily lives. Every act and judgment is considered in terms of its duty and benefit to the extended family, which often includes hundreds of people. The worst insult a Lakota can give is to say "you live as if you had no relatives."

The Home

"There was once a Lakota holy man, called Drinks Water, who dreamed what was to be....He dreamed that the four-leggeds were going back to the Earth, and that a strange race would weave a web all around the Lakotas. He said, 'You shall live in square gray houses, in a barren land....' Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking."
-Black Elk (1863-1950), holy man of the Oglala Lakota, written in 1932

(Denver Public Library, Western History Collection)

The tradition of the Lakota household dates back to an ancient legend. Wisdom (Ksa) created the first lodge, which had a circular floor. He placed the fire from Sun (Wi) in the center. The door faced east, giving honor to the rising sun. Traditional lodges still follow this plan. In individual tipis, the husband sleeps on the west side of his wife, who is in charge of the household. They keep their belongings by the wall near their respective sleeping places. Movement within the tipi should always be in the direction of the sun (clockwise). A good guest sits to the right of the door until invited to move further inside. Wood and water are stored on the left. Keeping things in good order is of vital importance.


"In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world."
- Lame Deer, Miniconjou Lakota

Eagle image belongs to all Indigenous Peoples (compiled by Glenn Welker)

Lakota religion is polytheistic, that is, believing in many gods or spirits. Nature and cosmology play an important role: before the creation of the earth, the gods lived in a celestial realm and humans in a subterranean world without culture. On earth, spirits reside in every part of the natural world. Among the gods are Something That Moves (Takushkanshkan); Sun (Wi); Moon, who is married to Sun; and their daughter Falling Star (Wohpe). Other spirits include Spider (Inktomi), Old Man and Old Woman, and their daughter Face (Ite), who is married to Wind and has four sons, the Four Winds.

Reflecting the elements earth, fire, air and water and the seasons winter, spring, summer and fall, the number four is an essential symbol of Lakota spirituality. It also represents the directions north, south, east and west and the four races: red, black, white and yellow. Another important symbol is the circle, the foundation for the traditional house, the tipi. In the Lakota way, everything is circular in the journey of life and death. Time passes slowly in the full observation of life. Man and nature live in concert with one another, rather than in a struggle for domination.

From the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman came the tradition of the seven sacred rites and the smoking of the sacred pipe. The seven rites are the Keeping of the Soul, Sweat Lodge, Vision Quest, Sun Dance, Making Relatives, Puberty Ceremony and Throwing of the Ball. All but the latter have survived among contemporary Lakota people, despite being periodically outlawed by the U.S. government. When the White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared to the people, she told them that in a time of need, they should smoke from the pipe adorned with eagle feathers, and the smoke would carry their prayers upward to the gods.

Seven Sacred Rites of the Lakota Sioux

1. The Keeping of the Soul: Nagi Gluhapi Na Nagi Gluxkapi
In order to reconcile the death of a loved one, this ritual permits the resolution of things left undone, the healing of the Spirit and growth for the greater community. It allows the transition of the deceased into the Spirit World.

2. The Rite of Purification (Sweat Lodge): Inipi
In this ritual, the smoke from the pipe, the heat and steam from the fire in the sweat lodge, and ancient rituals release guilt, burdens and evil from the participant, bringing him closer to Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit).

3. Crying for a Vision (Vision Quest): Hanblecheyapi
The Vision Quest gives the participant responsibility for setting and honoring limits. After a period of fasting, the participant focuses on prayer in order to hear "the voice of the Sacred."

4. The Sun Dance: Wiwanyag Wachipi
In a ceremony that involves abstaining from food and water and dancing for four days, participants endure suffering - formerly shedding their own blood - so that others will not suffer. The suffering can be symbolic, spiritual or, as in the past, very real.

5. The Making of Relatives: Hunkapi
Through prayer to Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit), the exchange of sacramental food and smoking from the sacred pipe, an enduring bond of community is formed between people.

6. Preparing a Girl for Womanhood (Puberty Rite): Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan
This puberty ceremony purifies a girl who has her first menstrual perdiod, preparing her for womanhood and childbirth. In a tipi built by the girl's family, a holy man conducts the ritual with the proper sacred objects, including a buffalo skull painted red.

7. Throwing of the Ball: Tapa Wanka Yap
This former rite, performed only by women, used a ball filled with buffalo hair covered with a red-and-blue painted buffalo, which represented the material and spiritual aspects of the universe. In order to receive a great blessing, participants must choose to reach for the ball, while acknowledging that not everyone will catch it.

A Contemporary Rite Yuwipi
Used for healing, divining, and for finding lost persons or objects, this nighttime ceremony involves a holy man whose hands are tied behind his back and whose body is wrapped in a blanket and tied with ropes. The lights are extinguished while the holy man prays audibly and the spectators sit holding hands in a circle. When the lights are turned back on, the holy man is free from his bindings, released by the spirits

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