Healing With The Lakota Traditions
Healing With The Lakota Traditions
Native American religious traditions serve many purposes. A major role that they play in Native American lives is that the help people. Whether it is an individual is sick, or a community that needs support, the traditions help. The book, Lakota Woman, by Mary Crow Dog has many examples of how these traditions help in diverse situations.
Many of these traditions are designed to help out individuals with the problems that they have. The yuwipi ceremony is one that helps an individual in finding out something that usually causes distress. “Some person wants to find something—something that can be touched or something that exists only in the mind. Maybe a missing child or the cause of an illness. The yuwipi man is a finder he is the go-between, a bridge between the people and the spirits. Through him people ask questions of the supernaturals, and through him the spirits answer back.” . Sometimes the hardest thing to ease is something you do not know the reason why it happened. The yuwipi is a prime example of helping people because it eases their pain with knowledge of what is happening. Another way traditions help out is to help people understand what is going on in the world. “A lot of changes in thinking had occurred during his absence and he had to deal with that. As always when facing a new turn in his life, Leonard went on a vision quest called “Crying for a Dream” in Lakota.” . The vision quest helps Leonard out when his lifestyle or views are against some of the public opinion. By doing this Leonard tries to understand the world, and how to still remain a helpful force in it. With the Native American Church, peyote rituals became a common tradition. “Well, Grandpa Fool Bull took me to my first peyote meeting and I sat close by him the whole night. Even though I was a young girl I took a lot of medicine. I saw a lot of good things, and I suddenly understood. I understood the reality contained in this medicine, understood that this herb was our heritage, our tradition, that it spoke our language. I became part of the earth because peyote comes from the earth, even tastes like earth sometimes. And so the earth was in me and I in it, Indian earth making me more Indian. And to me Peyote was people, was alive, was a remembrance of things long forgotten.” . Peyote rituals are a way for Native Americans to understand who they are. In this age in particular, it can be extremely difficult to know that you are a Native American, so they use peyote and the ceremony that comes with it to remember that they are Native American. Individuals are not the only ones that get helped out by the traditions.
Communities are helped out tremendously by the Native American religious traditions. The Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee represented a rebirth of the Native American religious tradition. “In that ravine, at Cankpe Opi, we gathered up the broken pieces of the sacred hoop and put them together again. All who were at Wounded Knee, Buddy Lamont, Clearwater, and our medicine men, we mended the nation’s hoop. The sacred tree is not dead!” . It was a rebirth of their old traditions. The hoop was paralyzed for a while, but after this Ghost Dance, they repaired the hoop and gave hope to the community. The Sun Dance is a ceremony that helps Native Americans show their effort to helping the suffering of their community. “I began my dance by making a flesh offering. Leonard told me, “I’ll cut the skin from your arm. That’s a sacrifice. Your prayers go out for those suffering in jail, for friends who are sick. I will put the pieces from your arm into a square of red cloth, make a little bundle of it, and tie it to the sacred pipe. That way you’ll remember this always.” I made my flesh offering thinking of all the brothers and sisters who had died, who, I felt, had somehow died for me.” . In the Sun Dance, people suffer for the people that are suffering, so in some way the less fortunate will not have to suffer as much. The people that they suffer for are part of the community, so it shows how much effort is in the community.
The Native American religious traditions are a way to help individuals as well as communities. Some of the traditions are the yuwipi, the vision quest, the peyote meetings, the Ghost Dance, and the Sun Dance. All of these are designed to help people whether it is an individual or a community that needs help, or even if a community just needs to get together and celebrate each other.