The approach people take to prayer is as varied as they are…some a by rote incantation, some selfish, some a genuine expression, some for show, and others accompanied by offerings.
Offerings have taken many forms, detours, from animal to ritual human sacrifice – something I doubt Creator would find necessary.
Offerings are a part of praying among the nations, from tobacco to what many have referred to as primitive self mutilation in the Sundance.
Ultimately the only thing a person can truly say they own is their body, and it is the most personal of possessions.
To offer any portion of it depending on circumstance is either praised or denounced.
An example would be a person who loses life or limb in an attempt to save another, they are seen as praiseworthy.
A person who commits suicide or into self mutilation due to emotional problems is thought of as being sick, “self harming”.
There are a lot of negative influences impacting the ceremonies of the nations, none more so than those surrounding the Sundance, which is increasingly being seen as a resume builder or an event to name brand and sell tickets and licenses for.
Lost in all this is understanding, an understanding that the dancer is praiseworthy when he dances for the right reasons, that he is offering his body for a specific reason, often for others, forhis people.
In times past a sundancer didn’t make a point of droning on about it as so many do now – it was a sacred thing, the intent known and honored.
An individual who boasted about it like the AIM wannabes, Peltier, or any other would have lost respect, not gained it.
Pipes and their significance are something else that is misunderstood and have been corrupted – the “last real Indians” will go on about how sacrilegious it is to photograph one while routinely fashioning them for sale or employing them as props.
There is a difference between a true pipe carrier and one who merely carries a pipe as a prop. Those who do will say all pipes are sacred, I say that isn’t true, that if a person fashions one and carries it for show it is no more sacred than than one of those Dr. Grabow’s they could buy at a tobacco shop as intent becomes the arbiter.
This misunderstanding and corruption can be directly linked to the AIM leadership and resident flunkies, an indisputable reality that can be verified by examining the time frame related to the creation of AIM and the decline/corruption of tradition and ceremonies – I challenge anyone who disagrees to prove me wrong.
In an attempt to legitimize themselves there was a headlong rush by the leadership and associates to participate in ceremonies, not just for the theatrical value they attached to them, but to own them.
The same reason, the same attempt at legitimacy they felt compelled them to build a tipi at WK2 with the media in mind – the laughable part being not a one of them knew how to go about it and had to enlist the help of a white man.
Kind of deromanticizes the imagery they sought to cultivate doesn’t it?
Peltier has gone so far as to claim his life is a sundance in what amounts to yet another corruption of values and ceremonies.
Banks, Crow Dog, Clyde Bellecourt, and Russell Means have all name branded their counterfeit versions.
What a person should be asking themselves in view of all the talk about “In the spirit of Crazy Horse” is do they think Crazy Horse would have name branded a ceremony, sold licenses to conduct one, or destroyed a village belonging to his own people?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you’re definitely AIM material and deserve to be duped.