Sign up to receive email updates from the
Akta Lakota Museum!
Sign up
Buffalo from the Akta Lakota Museum Shopping Center

Isnati Awicalowanpi - Coming of Age

Her Alone They Sing Over

Her Alone They Sing Over
1979 Vera Louise Drysdale

This rite was performed at the time when a young girl realized the change taking place in her life was a sacred thing.

The ceremony was held to purify her in preparation for becoming a woman and bearing children. Her family built a tipi and gathered necessary objects for the ritual, which was conducted by a holy man.

On the day of the ceremony, sweetgrass was burned and all the ceremonial objects were purified with the smoke. The Pipe was smoked and prayer was offered up to Wakan Tanka, to the four directions and to the Earth.

In the ceremony, a buffalo skull was a central object. It was colored with the red paint to symbolize the earth. Cherries and water were placed before the skull.

Purifying a Young Woman

Purifying a Young Woman
Vera Louise Drysdale

Tobacco was spread in the shape of a cross, and blue paint put on display to symbolize the coming together of earth and sky.

The holy man then gave the girl a piece of buffalo meat, and the water and cherries were passed to members of her family.

A feast was held, and a giveaway took place. The goodness and holiness that came to the young girl also then extended to the whole tribe.

The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. Recorded and Edited by Joseph Epes Brown. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953.

The Gift of the Sacred Pipe. Based on Black’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, recorded and edited by Joseph Epes Brown. Edited and Illustrated by Vera Louise Drysdale.


All active news articles