Native Sun News: Lakota elders finish four-month sacred journey

Shown are (L-R standing) Teresa Little Finger, Leonard Little Finger and Marika Alvarado. Richard Broken Nose is sitting in front. Alvarado, an Apache medicine woman, received her Lakota name following the pipe ceremony. Photo by Richie Richards

Four-month sacred journey ends at Mato Tipila
Pipe ceremony prepares way for Sun Dance
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

DEVIL’S TOWER, Wyo. –– As the sun dance ceremony season is about to begin, a four-stop journey to the most sacred sites in and around the Black Hills has come to an end for two Lakota traditionalists.

What began out on the prairies southeast of Rapid City at the Prairie Wind Casino back in March, the four-month journey by Lakota elders, Richard Broken Nose and Leonard Little Finger, ended at Mato Tipila (Devil’s Tower) on Saturday, June 4.

The first of four ceremonies took place at the Prairie Wind Casino on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In April the second ceremony to honor the caretaker of the highest point in the Black Hills, “The Person Whose Bones Broke Four Times” took place at the foot of Seven Little Girls Mountain (Harney Peak near Sylvan Lake). In May, the pair met at Pe Sla (Reynold’s Prairie near the Deerfield Reservoir) for the “Welcoming Back Ceremony” to honor the return of new life in the area.

On the final leg of the journey on June 4, nearly 50 people gathered at the foot of Mato Tipila near Sundance, Wyoming for a canupa (sacred pipe) ceremony. Along with Broken Nose and Little Finger, were several pipe carriers who came to pray near the place where many believe Pte Ska Win or Ptesanwi (White Buffalo Calf Woman) appeared and brought the sacred pipe and its teachings to the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation).

Little Finger explained to those attending the significance of the pipe and the “sacred lady who brought the canupa to the Lakota.” It was through the canupa and the teachings of Ptesanwin that the Lakota received “their seven sacred rites and the Lakota value systems,” according to Little Finger.

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