Native Sun News: New group keeps Lakota social ceremonies alive

LEFT: Emmanuel Black Bear, Ehanni Wicohan Co-organizer, with his Auntie Millie Black Bear, and brother Tim Black Bear. RIGHT: Couples participate in the Kahomni - Rabbit Dance Photos by Natalie Hand

Ehanni Wicohan: Reviving Lakota social dances
By Natalie Hand
Native Sun News Correspondent

PINE RIDGE –– Traditional social ceremonies, both formal and informal were once the heart of the Lakota Tiyospaye (community). An effort is underway to re-introduce these ceremonies in communities around the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“I moved to Hunkpapa territory after my leksi (uncle) Wilmer Mesteth passed away. All I did was work and sleep. I felt empty. Then I was asked to be the drum keeper for Oglala Nation Wacipi (powwow) last year. I was reluctant to come back, but I accepted the request and being back in that circle made me feel so good. I was inspired to start the social dance in hopes that it might bring healing to other,” stated Emmanuel “Bull” Black Bear, co-organizer of Ehanni Wicohan (they gathered long ago).

As a traditional singer and drum keeper of Creekside Singers drum group, Black Bear believes in the healing powers of social dances. After visiting with other singers and elders to get their input, Ehanni Wicohan was formed.

Participants in a Ehanni Wicohan social dance on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on April 17, 2016. Photo from Facebook

“I sought advice from my auntie Philomene Lakota. She told me that we need to save these social dances and teach the youth these songs. Her and Leksi Wilmer (Mesteth) worked together for many years to revitalize the traditional handgames and the Hanwaci (to dance at night),” added Black Bear.

The mission of Ehanni Wicohan, a non-profit organization, is “to continue Lakota cultural practices and to teach the young Lakota people these cultural practices to ensure they’re continued for future generations to come. These gatherings kept the Lakota people in balance and harmony. They came together to celebrate their lives to overcome hardships, to renew their energy, and to give thanksgiving for all their blessings,” according to their Facebook page.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Ehanni Wicohan: Reviving Lakota social dances

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