Lakota Religious Traditions
Lakota, a word meaning ‘allies or friends’ were religious people. They turned to the stars, using naked eye observations, for guidance from the spirits. The stars tell stories of their creation and hold information pertaining to birth and the sun dance rituals. Lakota people cherish their oral stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Overall they embrace religion in all aspects of their life. For them religion encompassed their entire being and was integrated in their daily lives. There are seven sacred rites the Lakota abide by. These rites came to the Lakota people through the White Buffalo Calf Pipe. The sacred pipe has been passed down from generation to generation. Only those with the intentions to do good may handle the pipe and hold the knowledge regarding how to use it properly. A holy spirit brought the pipe to the Lakota people in the hopes of peace and spirituality. Lakota people today pray for the spirit who brought the pipe asking her to watch over their loved ones, feeding them and providing shelter (Dooling, 2002).
The first rite is to renew life. Using a sweat lodge that resembles the dome shape of the universe and the womb of a pregnant woman, the Lakota people prayed for health and well being for all. They prayed for their loved ones’ spiritual and physical health through a ceremony inside the lodge. Hot stones were placed in the middle of the dark lodge and water was poured over the burning red stones creating steam. All necessities for good health were included in this ceremony: earth, water, fire and air (Powers, 2005). The second rite is crying for a vision. One person agrees to go on a vision quest and waits on a hill with nothing but a pipe and a blanket for four days in hopes to connect with spirits and gain knowledge and insight. The Lakota often made a special war shield following a vision quest. The design on the shield was supposed to offer them special protection and guidance...
References: Goodman, Ronald. Lakota Star Knowledge: Studies in Lakota Stellar Theology. Rosebud, SD:Sinte Gleska University, 1992.
Mizrach, S. (n.d.) Lakota Astronomy. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from: http://www2.fiu.edu/~mizrachs/lakota.htm
Powers, William K., James Garrett, and Kathleen J. Martin. "Lakota Religious Traditions." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 8. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 5295-5298. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 October, 2012.
Yellowtail, Thomas. Native Spirit: The Sundance Way. Ed by Michael Oreon Fitzgerald. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2007.
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