Just before the sun rises, there is a star standing alone, shining brightly in the east. Lakota refer to this beautiful sight as the Morning Star.
This star announces the coming of sun and light to the earth; it heralds the dawn. Because of its great importance in the gift of each new day, the Morning Star is often used in designs and decorations.
In fact, the Lakota religion was dominated by rituals and belief in a spiritual connection with nature. These beliefs were reflected in the various symbols they used, such as the Morning Star. Clothes, tipis and other belongings were decorated with art and included symbols depicting achievements, acts of heroism, various spirit guides, or the most important events in life.
Although less prevalent today, the same practices do take place among American Indians — especially elders — in an attempt to keep the tradition alive.
Black Elk spoke to the star as follows:
“Morning Star, there at the place where the sun comes up, you who have the wisdom which we seek, help us in cleansing ourselves and all the people, that our generations to come will have light as they walk the sacred path. You lead the dawn as it walks forth, and also the day which follows with its light which is knowledge. This you do for us and for all the people of the world, that they may see clearly in walking the wakan – holy – path, that they may know all that is holy, and that they may increase in a sacred manner …”
Adapted from Lakota Life by Ron Zeilinger