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Thread: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

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    Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    My whole life I've been interested in Lakota (most people just know this as a band of Sioux) culture (I admit, this was initially the fluffy bits of fake history in school). After being frustrated on never finding a religion quite suited to me, I stumbled across Pagan reconstruction religion (don't beat me if that's not the proper way to describe it) and it got me into studying Lakota beliefs. It feels perfect for me, like everything I've always thought and felt has a name. The problem is, I have absolutely no native roots and no connection to anyone with any trustworthy knowledge of Lakota practices. I've found a few resources but most of what there is is either sketchy or blatantly ridiculous. I've been doing the best I can on my own, but I want to make sure I'm doing this the right way. I'm not necessarily looking for any kind of mentor or teacher, though I certainly wouldn't be opposed. I'm just hoping for someone to help lead me down the true path, not the one that media and school teachers like to pretend happened. Any books, articles, or personal advice would help me greatly, though I do ask you give me some reasonable validity of the source.

    I've never been one of these forums and I admit I'm a newb, so thanks in advance for putting up with me.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    You might want to research by using the names of Dakota, Lakota and Ug La La as those are the three groups that make up the nation. Teton Sioux also falls into that mix though I do not recall if they are a separate group that falls up under one of the three primary groups. I'd also add that it's not tradition or beliefs is the entire culture and way of life so one aspect can not truly be removed from the totality of the culture.

    I will say do not be offended if you get hammered for trying to steal their heritage as a lot of Native American's have a great mistrust and almost hatred of White Indian's or White Plastic Shaman who try to separate their culture from spiritual, religious, psychological, sociological and other aspects that make up their imagery of them as an active heritage and people.

    As a people the Sioux are probably only equaled by the Cherokee (Tsagali) by having their heritage and culture stolen or borrowed by paganism and the new age movements. A situation that tends to make them hostile to those who try to make themselves one without really being of their blood or heritage. It's been my experience you either meet them face to face and get invited to learn their culture or you never do.

    Sadly it seem's a lot of pagans try to pass off the teaching of Black Elk, via the book Black Elk Speaks, or The Medicine Wheel teachings of Sun Bear as being legitimate Sioux teachings. Sorry can't give you any links or references as what I know was taught face to face along with the message if its in a book it didn't come from the clan elders. More than likely from a white indian who is out to make a buck or a native (maybe) who is out to milk a few dollars as well. Akin to the beads and jewelry that is made specifically for the tourist and not actual usage by the nations.
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    I have looked into the groups of the Sioux. I've settled on Lakota; I simply included "Sioux" for the ease of some people. Half the time when I just say Lakota no one even knows what I'm talking about. Again on the traditions/beliefs, I'm vastly oversimplifying. Anything of Lakota nature interests me. I would honestly love nothing more than to have been born into a Lakota tribe.

    I'm aware of the mistrust as well. I find it disappointing that other people have ruined it for many of those which a true calling toward the ways of native Americans.

    I'm curious, who taught you and how did you meet them? What made them believe in you? I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trying to weasel my way into getting a teacher, I'm just intrigued because I'm aware of how difficult it is to gain the trust of the elders and even if I myself never have the same opportunity, the beliefs and principles they use to decide one is worthy are just as important to living in general.

    ...*sigh*, I sound annoying and ridiculous even to myself.

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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flier View Post
    I have looked into the groups of the Sioux. I've settled on Lakota; I simply included "Sioux" for the ease of some people. Half the time when I just say Lakota no one even knows what I'm talking about. Again on the traditions/beliefs, I'm vastly oversimplifying. Anything of Lakota nature interests me. I would honestly love nothing more than to have been born into a Lakota tribe.

    I'm aware of the mistrust as well. I find it disappointing that other people have ruined it for many of those which a true calling toward the ways of native Americans.

    I'm curious, who taught you and how did you meet them? What made them believe in you? I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trying to weasel my way into getting a teacher, I'm just intrigued because I'm aware of how difficult it is to gain the trust of the elders and even if I myself never have the same opportunity, the beliefs and principles they use to decide one is worthy are just as important to living in general.

    ...*sigh*, I sound annoying and ridiculous even to myself.
    Nah, we've had annoying and ridiculous. You aren't there yet. Doesn't mean we have (or in some cases will provide) the information you want but you aren't to annoying and ridiculous yet.
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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    I served in the military with one, I want to say Dakota nation but honestly do not recall now. Some things where trust is built upon a common life style and experience I suppose. Some aspects I learned from other Native American's where the need and drive to conserve the native blood lines has brought groups together who otherwise might have been traditional enemies. I knew one women a number of years ago who was Piute and her husband was of another nation but both were full blooded so keeping blood was more important than other things. Seen the same with a few Tsagli (Cherokee) I knew though they always said there was a difference between the western nation and the eastern nation on many levels.

    Granted a few here or there do not give an in-depth look into a nations beliefs, traditions, customs and culture but many times it truer than what you get in a book written by an outsider who is translating what they think they saw or understood. That or a person who is writing a book for the intent of getting your money. Brooke Medicine Eagle for instance claims to be a native and taught by some grandfather figure, yet the nation she claims to hail from doesn't claim her. Yet she has something like 8 books out the last time I checked and discovered my email had been "Given" to her site to introduce me to her collective works.

    I lost the link I had due to a computer crash but the Lakota used to have a dedicated online site that was out of the Rosebud Reservation I believe it was. Had lots of stuff on-line for member's of the nation who no longer lived on the reservation or general interest stuff. Yet I recall it went to great lengths to instill the idea that it had to be lived and in a manner similar to how the people live not from learning from a book. Yet they tried to teach language and stuff. Then there were "Rituals" that were open to the public and those only viewable by full bloods or those claimed by the nation.

    In many ways it's as hard to get entrance into a tribe or nation's spiritual center as it is to get into many mountain families traditions and belief systems. It's like where I live now I am blood kin from many earlier generations but will still be an outsider all of my life because I wasn't born here.

    In the end though a lot had or has to do with having a person who will both vouch for you but also accept accountability for you before the elders.
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  7. #7

    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    Thanks we're interesting. And I tried finding that site but the closest I've found as of yet is a link on the Rosebud Reservation site to information from the St. Joseph's Indian School and museum. Do you have any idea on the claims of James R. Walker? I've seen a lot of decent looking books by him and hr seems to have pretty high regard for being reputable.

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    Honestly can't say in-regards to James R. Walker. Reputation and regard is really iffy at times, I've seen tons's of author's who have great reputations and such among pagan's for instance yet have no credentials and reputation among their academic peer group. Seen the same for supposed Native American authors, again great reputation among those who read their books but absolutely none among the nation they claim to represent.

    Just me but i'd say look to see who his publisher is as a clue. Lot's of legitimate Native author's use Native publishing houses and their books and stuff are almost exclusively sold through those forums not Amazon or such. If really interested write to the Lakota reservation and ask them who a good author is for learning about the people, customs, etc. Sort of like writing to the diplomatic mission or embassy of another country to find books and such recommended by the country in question. Figure it also gets your name and such known as being interested. Not only interested but going that extra step to get information which just might get you recognized as legitimate vice another want-a-bee Indian.
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    Member AntonBRaxas's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flier View Post
    I'm aware of the mistrust as well. I find it disappointing that other people have ruined it for many of those which a true calling toward the ways of native Americans.
    Yeah, Genocide tends to make one mistrust anybody as many who are asking questions eventually sell their Native wares afterwards and call it authentic.
    Regardless of your sincerity, I side with the Natives on not giving up their faith to just anybody, especially American-born Whites who are known to jump from faith to faith on a whim. It took me years to get into the Mide'wiwin as a half-breed and I was born on the Reservation.

    Note- Nothing is directed to you personally. I am using generalizations and not targeting anyone here.

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    Re: Anyone with reliable information on Lakota traditions/beliefs?

    I had the opportunity to being involved with a small drumming circle for 5 years. I am not native American and yet they let me join in. The group was a collection of different tribes since almost all of the local Native Americans had long been removed from the area. The person who was in charge of the circle claimed apache decent but the others were a mixture including Lakota, Cherokee, Aztec and others. It had made itself open to outsiders for the drumming circle, sweet lodge and blessings of the known burial sites of the local Karankawa people. There was the ritual of smudging with sage before anyone would enter the circle and tobacco had to be offered in the four directions. Most of the chants were in Lakota language second by Cherokee. In each session stories were shared to relate to values of the people through examples of courage, perseverance, humility, respect for elders, generosity, and respect for Mitakuye Oyasin which is all my relatives to include all aspects of the natural world. What was interesting is that the leader had blended Catholic Christianity while conserving beliefs of his heritage. This appears to have been the case of Black Elk and many others who had tried to preserve the knowledge which was still available about their heritage. There was two important elements that they always included - that of Wakan Tanka the great mystery and Mother Earth. This group had critics from another group of Native Americans who objected to being open to outsiders and to women participating. They would send protest groups when blessings were made to the ancient burial grounds despite the fact that the leader of the group had worked hard to preserve the grounds for development. I am not Lakota and know I will never be Lakota but the participation in this drumming circle and the use of stories of both humans and animal to express values did influence me. The problem was I could never know if what I experienced was the way Lakota believed in the past for much of their past was lost like so many other cultures.

    Joseph M Marshall wrote some very interesting books such as the 'The Lakota Way , stories and lessons for living. He came from the rose bud reservation and these were the stories passed on to him from he elders who still remembered them. How accurate were his accounts? I cannot say and not all Lakota may agree but I found I could identify with their meaning. The most impressive part was the respect for 'all my relations' - the natural world. I think learning from the Lakota teaching and connecting with it is not a disrespect but a passing of wisdom as long as you do not claim to be Lakota in belief. I do know that many Native Americans disagree and want a control over their beliefs. I can understand their objections especially when it comes to ceremonies.

    In paganism there seems to be a division between those who have entered from a sense of the divine in nature and those that have entered into worshiping the gods/goddesses from the past. I came from the former and find some connections with what has come to symbolized native American respect for Nature (whether or not that is the real case) and the connection and respect of North western European pagan beliefs or at least those prior to the influence of Rome. Anyway just some thoughts on the subject.

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