Collection: Sacred Lakota Dance

ARTIST: Fr. Bob Gilroy, SJ


“She immediately stood up and began praising God.”
(Luke 13:13)

A Native American woman in a jingle dress
dances to drumbeats at a Pow Wow.

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In general terms, and like some other Native American groups, Dakota spirituality centers around certain customs and beliefs, concepts, events, and objects. These include the sweatlodge, pipe, drums, singing, the naming ceremony, prayer, vision questing and guardian spirits, the ceremonial pow wow (such as the Sun Dance), the medicine man or woman (shamans), medicine bags, dream articles and traditional stories regarding the Great Spirit. Ritual and spiritual objects include sage, sweetgrass, tobacco, and cedar. Dogs were often used in religious feasts and were akin to the sacrificial lambs of early Christianity. Four is a sacred number. There are 4 seasons and four powers of the universe sit at the four cardinal directions of North, South, East, and West. The symbolic "four colors of man" are red, yellow, black, and white. Stones are considered the oldest people and spiritual people talk to them and refer to them in curing and finding lost objects. Frances Densmore wrote a whole chapter including songs in her book The Teton Sioux and their Music.  

Excerpts from “An Introduction to Dakota Culture and History" by Kevin L. Callahan

LUKE - Chapter 13

1 At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

2 He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?

3 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

4 Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them --do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?

5 By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

6 And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,

7 he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?'

8 He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;

9 it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"

10 He was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.

11 And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.

12 When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."

13 He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.

14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, "There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day."

15 The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?

16 This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?"

17 When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

18 Then he said, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it?

19 It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and 'the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'"

20 Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?

21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed (in) with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

22 He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.

23 Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them,

24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.

25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'

26 And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'

27 Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'

28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.

29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.