Opinion

Vince Two Eagles: How Sundance returned to Yankton Sioux






Vince Two Eagles

Vince Two Eagles shares the story of how the Sun Dance returned to the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota:
Here is part four of four of a series describing Fred Zephier Junior’s recollection of how the Sundance was returned to the Ihanktowan Dakotah people (Yankton Sioux Tribe). Last week Fred tells us that: “My brother Al was on the Tribal Council and brother Greg was involved in the struggle for Indian rights.”

To continue: “Al and Dad along with other members of the newly formed Heritage Committee, which was made up of traditional Yankton people, approached the Tribal Council [meaning the Business and Claims Committee] to request money for the Sundance. The Tribal Council gave $4,000.00 to the Committee. The money was used to hire a crew to cut wood, gather rocks, to build an arbor and shade.

“It was a time when the consciousness of Indian people seemed to have reached a point of no return. Indians finally got off their knees--they were standing up for the injustices they were confronted with and they sought redress for numerous treaty violations by the United States Government.

“The Lakota people at Pine Ridge were the first to do the Sundance in the 1960’s at the Lakota Nation Fair. Although it was a Sundance the participants did not pierce their flesh. That wasn’t done until the early 1970’s. Russell Means, a member of the American Indian Movement, Matthew King, a spokesman and interpreter for the Lakota people, and Frank Fools Crow, a Lakota Holy Man, were instrumental in conducting the Sundance the way it was meant to be done. The Sundance in Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation was the first Sundance where the men dancers pierced their chests. Prior to that time it was a kind of mock Sundance.

Get the Story:
Vince Two Eagles: The Rez of The Story: Sundance Traditions (The Yankton Press & Dakotan 6/24)

Related Stories:
Vince Two Eagles: The Sun Dance came back to Yankton Sioux (6/17)