Walking in the Sacred Manner, 3-5



Being Raised


p. 62 P.Sh. (a Crow emmet-shamaness)

[quoted from PSh, p. 19] ""Do women ever name the children?" I [F.L.] asked.

"Yes ...," she said. "... I named my own children, and all of my grandchildren. My Helpers, the ants, gave me all the names. I listen to the ant people, even to this day, and often hear them calling each other by names that are fine. ...""

PSh = Frank Linderman : Pretty Shield : Medicine Woman of the Crows. Lincoln : N of NE Pr, 1960.

p. 65 primogeniture

"Among the Lakota, the firstborn male child (Chaska>) and firstborn female child (Winona) are treated differently and raised with more ritual training and responsibilities than their younger siblings, even somewhat deferentially. ... This stems from the ancient instructions of Tate> to his oldest son, the North Wind, that these children will one day lead the family in ... ritual life, including at wakes and funerals."

pp. 66-7 foretelling of the life-events by a grandmother

p. 66

"When we were just teenagers, my Grandmother told us one time that she had seen in[to] the future and knew what life would bring us. ...

p. 67

It is strange that she could know how things would turn out for each of us."

p. 70 how to pray is taught by a woman (J.) to her granddaughter (M.S.)

[quoted from MS, pp. 41-3] "Unci ['grandmother'] told me, "The Sun, Wi, ... we pray to .., we also call him Tunkasila which means Grandfather. I have prayed with the Peace Pipe since I was a young woman ... ." When Grandma prayed, she held the mouthpiece pointed towards the sky to the Wi Tunka>silaya (Grandfather Sun), next she held it to the four directions,

Wiyohiyanpa (East), Waziyata (North), Wiyohpeyata (West), and Itokaga (South),

then to Maka Ina (Mother Earth). She would say, "The directions are also our friends; we pray to them in time of need or necessity. ... Hanwi the Moon is also our friend, and Tate> the Wind, and Whope>, the beautiful one. She was the Buffalo Woman ... . Wakinyan, the Thunder, is also your friend, and Tatanka the Buffalo, and the Bear Nu Nunpa. ..." ...

She also instructed me, "Watch out for Iktomi, they can ... show themselves in ... tricky ways. Some deer can transform themselves into people. ... They can make your mind go crazy. You should be fearful and respectful of all these kind[s]. ...""

MS = Mark St. Pierre : Madonna Swan. Norman : U of OK Pr, 1991.

pp. 72-3 hunka; hunkapi

p. 72

"Because the term hunka actually refers to one's ancestors and is a joining together of families both living and in the spirit world, it is a very serious undertaking. ...

And Hunka is when you make a relative to the whole universe, with spirits. The spirits are the ones that recognize you as a relative."

p. 73

"Hunkapi ceremony" : "The children may be given a new "spirit" name at this time ... . ...

These new names are thought to be ritually attached to the child's soul and are used in all ceremonies for the rest of the child's life and, though seldom spoken, will be known to many friends and relatives."

{Each Chinese person hath a secret name (known only to relatives and to affine in-laws) which is used in religious caerimonies.}





p. 77 regalia worn by women at a powwow

"women in Plains Indian life have ... traditional regalia worn at the powwow. ... "They wear an awl case to show they are industrious. ... The little pouch is for a fire striker ... . They wear the knife case to symbolize generosity ... . Today they might not have the awl inside [the little beaded case], but it means the same.""

p. 79 wife's control of her marital status

"The woman owns the house and all the equipment associated with it. ...

All she needed to do was place the dismissed husband's clothing outside the door, and divorce was official."

p. 81 marriages

"In the old days, ... couples eloped.

... today ... Most people ... live in a so-called Indian or prairie marriage, which is recognized by the community but not by the government except as common-law."

pp. 88-9 exclusively post-menopausal ro^le of healeress

p. 88

"Even if the dreams dictate that the woman will assume the role of a healer, she will not act upon those dreams until she has reached the time in her life when she is a winu>hcala (old woman), past her childbearing years."

p. 89

"When ... women get near the time in life when they no longer have their moon [menopause], ... we look forward to it because it is the time when we can ... become a medicine woman or [traditional] artist if it's our calling."

pp. 89-90 dreamings by a Lakota woman [C.S.]

p. 89

"I saw in a dream! Right beside me; it was like a round vision. In the vision ... was a sweat ... . ... You know how the sweat covers are ["very wrinkled"]? There were no wrinkles in this sweat."

p. 90

[how she was referred to a shamanic teacher :] "Not many women have that ["the dreams indicating a calling"]. ... I was sleeping, and I had a dream that I was to go to him. ... Well, he taught all of us something, the things he said were good."

pp. 91-2, 94 women manage funerals & memorial services for the dead

p. 91

"Among the Lakota it is the women who take care of the dead, conducting the funeral and all the practices that comprise a proper sendoff."

"When an elderly Lakota decides it is time to die, it is not uncommon for this person to begin to visit with the spirits of those who have gone on before. It is at this point that the women of the family may begin to plan for the wake and funeral."

"Those who conduct funerals of parents are generally the oldest-born girls."

p. 92

"the close female relatives ... When they are bathing the dead and dressing him or her, they should try to be lighthearted, even joking, like the dead person could hear and enjoy the conversation."

p. 94

"Wihpeya, Giveaway, ... memorials are to be conducted until the fourth anniversary of the death. In this modern day, ... the essential meaning of the old "Soul-Keeping" ceremony remains in the four anniversary feasts and giveaways, which are conducted by the women of the family."

p. 91 a requaest not to be mourned

[a certain dying woman refused to be mourned-for after her death :] "if people are going to come in here crying around, keep them out. I am not sad about dying. I am glad. Soon I will see my husband, my sons."

{"Bear clansmen greet death with joy inasmuch as they will soon be reunited with their kinsmen in Spiritland. This is why Bear clansmen should never mourn for their dead." ("BCOM")}

"BCOM" = "Bear Clan Origin Myth" http://www.hotcakencyclopedia.com/ho.BearClanOriginMyth.html

p. 93 soul of the dead

"the house is stripped to the bare walls. Nothing is to remain of the past that might ... lure the dead back to this familiar place. ... It is so that the soul will have a good journey and be able to get to the other side. If ... the relatives are too stingy with the ... giveaway, ... the person who died may not be able to leave or make the journey because they ... may be stuck between the worlds. ... If they get trapped and are unable to make their journey it could be bad for those left behind."



The Shadow-World


p. 95 the process of dying

[Crow belief] "We call the place you go after death the "Other-side Camps." ... It is the next spiritual plane.

When our people are dying, the people from the Other-side come to get them. They take them to be with the loved ones who have gone before. It is a loved one, a favorite grandma or perhaps grandpa, who comes to speak with them and tell them their time is near. We consider this a blessing."

p. 96 mist-breath of life

"The Ni un (life), or Niyan, is the "breath of life" that departs at the moment of death. In its visible aspect it is considered like the fog Niya>sota, which comes from our mouths on a cold winter day. ... .

... medicine people say that if this Ni un ... leaves the body, it causes certain kinds of illnesses. It then becomes the role of the holy woman or man to ... finding and retrieving ... this aspect of the soul."

p. 96 inquiring from a ghost as to the whereabouts of the corpse of that person who hath died alone in an unknown location

"Some practitioners, often through the Yuwi>pi ceremony ..., have a special talent for finding dead bodies or determining whether someone missing ... is alive or dead ... . Through the use of special clear, round stones (usually found on anthills) and the spirits they contain, which are called Yuwi>pi Wasi>cun, the holy man or woman may ask, through the stone spirit, the Wana[>]gi (ghost) of the missing person where the relatives may find the body".

p. 96 depleting, and acquiring anew, spirit-helpers

"As the Yuwipi person calls upon his or her helpers ... to do something mysterious, their powers are depleted ... . Holy people [therefore replenish their power] ... each year, constantly "collecting power" in the form of new spirit helpers, lest they become spiritually ... used-up".

{That spirit-helpers become unavailable after having been used, and that replenishment of a sorcerer's power by acquiring new spirit-helpers, is likewise experienced among the S^uar (Xuar) sorcerers of Ecuador.}

p. 97 spirit-ally {literary source of Carlos Castan~eda's "ally", benevolent}

"Another aspect ... is the Sicun, the Spirit ... Ally. Some [cases are of] ... the soul (wana>gi) ... [having an ally] acquired at the moment of birth. Others ... the helper chooses ... before birth; whereas still [other ] ... allies are acquired later in life. ... At death these ... return to live with the supernatural beings or are commissioned to help another human."

p. 97 ghost as spirit-helper {literary source of Carlos Castan~eda's "helper", malevolent}

"wana>gi ... , what non-Indians call a ghost. It is another's wana>gi that may become the holy woman's spirit helper , or Sicun . ...

The wana>gi can make itself visible, so it ... resembles its living form.

{aequivalent to the "fetch" seen by Scots second-sight}

It may make itself visible to someone sleeping or while someone is awake. ... The wana>gi can be malevolent and very dangerous".

p. 120 "there are people known to practice hgmuGa, or casting of spells, with the use of a spirit helper".

p. 98 "Grieving too hard or too long [for the dead] may cause a soul [of the dead thus mourned-for] to become trapped close to earth."

p. 97 spiritual power inhaerent in substances

"Ton is thought to be an innate spiritual quality ... in certain objects like feathers, claws, and stones ... . ... This quality can be added ..., as when a holy man or woman makes a wasicun (... talisman)".

p travel by souls of the dead; redincarnation

p. 98

"the spirit travels on a long path, taking it over the Wana>gi Ta>canku, which it literally "spirit road" but refers to the Milky Way. In one Lakota version, the soul is met by an old woman who looks to see if the soul has the blue dot, or tattoo, identifying itself as one of The People. ... If the soul passes this inspection it is sent on an even longer journey ... . At the end of the journey the soul sees a tipi. In that tipi sits an old man (Wakan Tanka), who asks, "How was your journey?" -- meaning the journey through life. It is he who first sent the soul on its journey to this world. If the soul answers properly, it will receive safe passage and go on to stay forever in the happy ... Wana>gitomakoce (world of spirits). If not -- if it grumbles or complains ..., it may be sent back to live on earth again and learn more."

p. 99

[SL] "Plains Indian ideas about death often include a reincarnative philosophy that allows souls to become "finished." {completed} "If the soul does not become complete, dies too young ..., then it will be sent back to live on this earth again until it completes the journey "in a good way.""

SL = Ron Theisz : Standing in the Light. Lincoln : U of NE Pr, 1994.

p. 99 "Steps on the Red Road"






newborn to toddler


"knee-deep in mud"

about 2 to 6 or 7 years of age



"searching for identity"


"walk on thorns"

adolescence : "everything is life is difficult to understand"


"walks among swarming bees"

"starts a family" : "some people will be jealous and talk about her behind her back"


"walk over the body of relatives"

"strong mind and body"



"we are quite old, our spouse has left us for the other side"

pp. 100-2 autobiographical account of a near-death experience, by a Lakota woman (M.S.)

p. 100

(The ghost her "childhood sweetheart, her first true love, who was killed in an accident", appeared to her.) [quoted from MS, pp. 166-70 :] "He was calling me to go with him. Suddenly I saw a long log hall, so I came into the door. ... I was looking around, and I saw them sitting in the northwest corner of the hall. ... The ones I recognized were all deceased! My relatives! It was a gathering, a dance, and they were all in their Indian clothes. ... Singers started hitting the drum and singing. ...

I left the circle ... . I got to the door, opened it, and ... The hills were ... covered with flowers all over the ground! ... There were birds of every kind, and they were singing. ...

p. 101

[She followed her dead sweeheart.] So I started walking towards him, and as I approached him he would move back away from me. ... There was every kind of tree you can think of, and flowers, along the edge of the path. So I'd stop and smell the flowers. ... I followed him. He went down a long hill. ... There was a stream down below the hill. It was ... so clear

you could see every rock on the bottom."

{The stones in brooks are rounded (like the spirit-pebbles on p. 108) due to having jostled against each other so much with the motion of the current.}

[He (her dead sweetheart) requaested her to wade across that brook with him.] "I though to myself, ... this man is dead, and I'm talking to him. Now he's trying to get me to go through that water. I'd better not go through that water, or i'll die." He "started through the water. He was up to his knees in the water, then his waist. "Come wade in the water with me; it's not cold," he said. "... These rocks won't hurt your feet." "But," I said, "oh! I can't wade in the water with my bare feet. I'm just going to leave my shoes on." I started into the water ..., and soon the water was up to my knees. ...

p. 102

I turned around and started back. ... . ... he was following".

(While she was in her "coma" in the hospital, she was "talking" [in her sleep while as yet in this dream?].)

pp. 103-4 how a young woman survived after having been abandoned as seemingly dead

p. 103

"My grandmother [M.B.] told me the story about [her own grandmother] Woman Who Walks Holy. ... They were part of Iron Nation Band of the Sicangu ["Burnt Thigh Nation of the Lakota"] ... . [p. 218, n. 5:3 : "Their reservation is ... south of the South Dakota state capital, Pierre."]

She was ... a spoiled young woman and ... the young men would try to court her, but she would have nothing to do with them. She had no time for children or old people. One day she ... [seemingly] died. ...

{It was likely on account of her unnecessarily haughty attitude that the deities induced in her the catatonic trance mistaken by others as death.}

In those times they would put things they might need in the afterlife with them on the scaffold. One of the things she had was a knife ... . ... they buried her in a tree. ... Usually, if they were camped where there were trees, they would put the burial scaffold in the trees. ...

She was all alone when she woke up from a dream. ... Somehow she got her knive out. She was wrapped in a buffalo robe, tied down on that scaffold. Showly she cut herself free. ... . ... she'd been in a coma; they thought she was dead. ...

p. 104

Woman Who Walks Holy followed the trail to the new camp. When they first caught sight of her they were afraid of her because they thought she was a wana>gi [spirit]. ... They had a ceremony, and she related the things that she had seen in that shadow world."

p. 104 those who are naturally closest to the sacred; ghost-conjuror

"We believe it is the children, just coming from the spirit world,

{"The man old in days will not hesitate to ask a small child seven days old about the place of life, and he will live." (GTh 4)}

and the old people, soon to return, that are closest to the sacred."

"A Wana>gi Wapiye> (Ghost Conjuror) is ... some man or woman whose function, by Wakon (sacred or mysterious) methods, is to call and speak with spirits ... of the dead, ... with knowledge of the past."

GTh = Gospel according to Thomas http://gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html


Mark St. Pierre & Tilda LongSoldier : Walking in the Sacred Manner : healers, dreamers, and pipe carriers -- medicine women of the Plains Indians. a Touchstone Bk (imprint of Simon & Schuster), NY, 1995.