A culture is being reborn.
Many years ago my first husband started out as a field representative, translate: bill collector for GMAC. Western Nebraska and South western South Dakota, which included the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations of the Dakota Sioux, comprised his territory. I went with him a few times before our second child was born, and was amazed and dismayed at the conditions people lived in on the reservation. There was a lack of hope and the hovels were a shambles.
This morning the National Geographic magazine arrived in the mail. It features a lengthy article entitled: “In the Shadow of Wounded Knee.” The article has pictures of life and rituals on the Pine Ridge Reservation. One of the rituals pictured and described is the sacred Sun Dance. There are pictures of the tribe selecting the Sun Dance tree and carrying it to put in place. There is a picture of the sacred in place and decorated with a woman standing in front of it praying.l the Sun Dance is described as a medicine man guiding certain men who will be making a solemn offering. Bone pegs attach the men with ropes to the tree by piercing their chests or backs. During the dance, they must tear themselves free. There are colorful ties on the tree containing gifts to the gods such as tobacco and other offerings. They represent prayers for the people and for all of creation.
The main gist of the article, along with a history of the past and description of culture, points to the emergence anew of traditions practiced by the Sioux nation. People are relearning their language. They are looking at past customs. They are taking new found pride in who they are. This is an article of hope that bodes well for a deeply mistreated people.