All content, material, and images on this page are for informative and educational purposes only. The stories, symbols, beliefs and ceremonies mentioned here exhibit a major role and are sacred to the Sioux (Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota) people and their culture. My intention is to respect all of these rites. Spirituality and symbolism is very important and essential to the people of the (Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota) and to all Native Americans.


The Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel symbolizes great spiritual significance for the Sioux. The belief is that the shape of the wheel represents the circle of life and death, which is considered never ending and most importantly represents the unity in the Great Spirit or Grandfather. The Medicine Wheel was only to be used by a Holy or Medicine Man.



Within the circle is a cross shape, it symbolizes the four directions and each direction is signified with a color and meaning(s);


North – (Red) wisdom, place where the ancient ones passed over

South – (White) youth, friendships

East - (Yellow) beginnings, family

West – (Black) solitude, adulthood




Legend of the Dreamcatcher – Lakota





Long ago when the world was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In this vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi the spider picked up the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life; how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and onto adulthood. Finally, we go to the old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. "But," Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, "in each time of life there are many forces; some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they'll steer you in the wrong direction, and may hurt you. So these forces can help or can interfere with the harmony of Nature."

While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, "the web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, make good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole."

The elder passed on his vision to the people, and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good is captured in the web of life and carried with the people, but the evil in their dreams drops through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of their lives.




Sun Dance

The Sun Dance was the most practiced ritual by the Native American Tribes of the Great Plains including the Sioux, it was considered the most religious ceremony. The rite included fasting, singing, dancing, drumming, the experience of visions, and self-torture.




The ritual was one of the important religious ceremonies of the Sioux and other Plains Indians of 19th-century North America, it was held once a year in the months of June or July at the time of the Summer Solstice, when the moon was full.

The ceremony involved warriors being pierced through the chest or the back with a bone, and having a buffalo skull attached with buffalo hide. The dancers would either be tethered to the tree that was chosen by the worthiest warrior, or they would dance with the skulls dragging behind them.

Each one of the young warriors presented himself to a Holy or Medicine Man who then took between his thumb and forefinger a fold of the loose skin of the breast and then ran a very narrow-bladed or sharp knife through the skin and then a strong skewer of bone, about the size of a carpenter's pencil was inserted. This was tied to a long skin rope fastened, at its other extremity, to the top of the sun-pole in the center of the arena. The object of the warrior was to break loose from these fetters. To be able to free himself, he must and had to tear the skewers through the skin, a task that even with the most courageous may require many hours of torture. The idea of the dance was to remove the buffalo skull (and the bone) from their bodies.

The Sun Dance lasted four to eight days starting at the sunset of the final day of preparation and ending at sunset. It showed the balance and continuity between life and death, in other words a regeneration of life, it also showed and signified that there is no true end to life, but a cycle of symbolic and true deaths and rebirths. Mother Earth, all of nature and its creatures are inter-twined and dependent on one another.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the buffalo hunting culture of the Sioux flourished and the Sun Dance became the most important communal religious ceremony. This rite celebrated and signified the renewal and the spiritual rebirth of all participants and their relatives as well as the regeneration of Mother Earth and most importantly, the ritual involved sacrifice and it was to insure harmony between all living beings.

 Today’s ritual takes a long preparation and still involves the tree, the sacred lodge, singing, and much dancing. After the ceremony, the participants enter the lodge where they are brought food, and celebrate. The modern ceremony involves more symbolism and less physical pain unlike from the past.



Legend of the White Buffalo

The Legend of the White Buffalo has been passed down for generations for at least 2,000 years. The story has been told and revisited at sacred ceremonies, council meetings of significance, and through many storytellers. Depending on which Sioux Tribe; the Dakota, the Nakota, or the Lakota, the story of the legend has several variations, but they all have the same outcome.

The legend tells about how the people had lost the ability to talk and communicate with the Creator. The White Buffalo Calf Woman was sent by the Creator to teach the people how to pray with the sacred pipe. Seven Sacred Ceremonies were given along with the pipe to ensure a future with harmony, peace and balance.



The legend says, long ago, two young men (warriors) were hunting, when out of nowhere they came across a beautiful woman dressed in white buckskin. One of the warrior hunters recognized her as a Wakan (or sacred being) and then lowered his eyes.

As the second warrior approached her, he lusted for and desired her with his eyes, the White Buffalo Calf Woman then beckoned the lustful warrior to her and as he approached, a cloud of dust arose around them causing them to be hidden from view. When the dust cleared, White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared and along next to her was a pile of the second hunter’s bones.

White Buffalo Calf Woman approached the respectful warrior and explained to him that she had granted the other hunter's wish, allowing him, in those few moments, to live a lifetime, die and decay. She passed on a message to the young warrior to take back to his people so that were to prepare for her arrival and to teach them to pray, so the young hunter obeyed.

As the White Buffalo Calf woman returned, she carried a bundle (The sacred pipe) and taught them the seven ways to pray. These prayers are through ceremonies that include the Sweat Lodge for purification; the Naming Ceremony for child naming; the Healing Ceremony to restore health to the body, mind and spirit; the adoption ceremony for making of relatives; the marriage ceremony for uniting male and female; the Vision Quest for communing with the Creator for direction and answers to one's life; and the Sun Dance Ceremony to pray for the well-being of all the People.

When the sacred teachings were complete, she told the people that she would return for the sacred bundle that she had left with them. Before leaving, she told them that within her were the four ages, and that she would look back upon the people in each age, returning at the end of the fourth age, to restore harmony and spirituality to a troubled land.


She walked a short distance, as she looked back towards the people and sat down. When she arose she had become a black buffalo. Walking a little further, the buffalo laid down, this time arising as a yellow buffalo. The third time the buffalo walked a little further and this time arose as a red buffalo. Walking a little further it rolled on the ground and rose one last time as a white buffalo calf signaling the fulfillment of the White Buffalo Calf prophecy.

The bowl of the pipe she gave the Lakota was made of red stone, representing the Earth. A buffalo head was carved on the bowl, symbolizing all of the four-legged animals of the Earth. The stem was wood and represented all that grows on the Earth. Twelve eagle feathers hung from the place where the bowl joined the stem; this symbolized all the birds. The round stone was made out of the same red earth as the pipe and had seven circles on it representing the seven rites.


The changing of the four colors of the White Buffalo Calf Woman represents the four colors of man--white, yellow, red and black. These colors also represent the four directions, north, south, east and west.





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