2018-07-05 / Voices

Ceremony is Healthy Behavior


The Indigenous people of Mother Earth have been holding ceremony since the beginning of time. All over the world there are Indigenous people still hosting the life renewing rites known as ceremony. The human race would be living in worse conditions without the prayers offered by the people who continue to conduct powerful ceremonies.

The arrival of Columbus brought countless vicious attacks upon the spirituality and way of life of all Indigenous peoples. This was an era when our Turtle Island was overrun by swarms of human beings from other continents. These initial encounters with unscrupulous people from other areas of the world were not very good for us.

Our ancestors witnessed the murder of their families and the destruction of their homes. We have to remember that our ancestors were probably very trusting people. When they first encountered the newcomers they most likely saw no reason to not trust them. It must have been very painful to realize they had been tricked in more ways than one by the strange, light-skinned people.

We can’t blame our ancestors for the choices they made. We should all be grateful to them because without their ability to look ahead to the coming generations, none of us would be here. If our ancestors could see what we have become, they might have taken greater steps to resist the demands of the wasicu.

Our grandparents were among the first Indigenous children sent to boarding schools. They learned how to speak English. They learned to read and write. They were also used as slaves in the missionary schools they attended.

For example, they went to classrooms for half of a day and then they learned a trade for the rest of the school day. This trade was working for the mission by taking care of gardens, tending to animals, working in the fields, building things, sewing clothes, doing laundry, cleaning the buildings and cooking the food.

Our people who attended the mission schools in the beginning were taught that our prayers to Creator were evil. According to the church leaders, ceremonies were held to worship deities of the dark. This carried over into modern times as we still have pastors on our reservations who preach that Lakota spirituality is akin to demon worship. They seek to instill fear. Some preachers use intimidation by threatening us with an afterlife of never ending pain if we continue to pray in our ceremonies.

The Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island weren’t supposed to survive. Yet, our ancestors stood against the many violations they suffered. Their spiritual diligence kept our ceremonial way of life alive during some very dark times.

The government structures also continue to work against the ceremonial way of life which Indigenous people have carried on for centuries. Even when tribal people obtain the proper permits to basically pray upon their own land, they are often harassed by government officials.

There are many of our own people whom lack the understanding regarding the importance of ceremony. For instance, the Coming of Age ceremony held for young ladies who reach puberty is crucial to their well-being.

In today’s society many of our people do not teach their own children healthy behaviors. Our ceremonies are the only way for us to instill essential teachings into our children. Our young ladies who complete a Coming of Age ceremony have a much greater chance of walking gracefully into womanhood than the girls who do not experience this rite.

Always think of yourself as an ancestor. Stand bravely in these difficult times we face. Please pray for the descendants so they can one day carry on the same ceremonial way of life which we are now living.

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