The Sacred Nations Sundance is participatory, not an exhibition. Led by Chief Michael Vargas and American Indians from several nations, the Sundance is a traditional and sacred ceremony, a place and time for prayer and healing. It’s done to fulfill Black Elk’s vision of all nations coming to the Sacred Tree to pray as one. This sixth annual, eight-day event for the ceremony of the seven sacred rights of the Lakota tradition will again occur in Bainbridge, June 21 – 28.
In 1876, Black Elk witnessed Sioux forces, led by Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, defeat U.S. soldiers led by Lt. Col. George Custer. In the 1880s, Black Elk toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, later returning to the Pine Ridge Reservation established for the Oglala in South Dakota. After the massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek in late 1890, Black Elk remained at Pine Ridge. Twenty years before his death in 1950, he began telling his story to the writer John Neihardt for the book “Black Elk Speaks,” a chronicle of Lakota history and spiritual traditions.
Sundance is designed to bring family and people together and is a time of celebration, thanksgiving, sacrifice, and personal growth through prayer. The first three days are a time of purification as dancers prepare physically, mentally and spiritually for the five-day ceremony.
The following is a brief overview:
• Fri, June 21: Lighting of the Sacred Fire
• Mon, June 24: Tree Day — The tree, once selected, is considered a fallen warrior and
cannot touch the ground. The Tree Ceremony will begin late afternoon as the tree is
erected in the Sacred Circle.
• Tue, June 25: Sundance Ceremony begins — The dancers are obligated to walk in a
sacred manner, no speaking to, or looking at, others as they focus on prayer and
commitment. Public supporters are allowed under the arbor to add prayers and
agreement to the dancers in the Sacred Circle.
• Thu, June 27: Sundance Day — Dancers will dance from sunup to sundown. Public
supporters are welcome to watch from the arbor.
• Fri, June 28: Healing Day — A day of celebration and feast as the dancers
experience a time of renewal and new beginning for their spiritual journey that will
continue throughout the year.
For times, and more event information, follow the Sacred Nations’ Facebook page. Admission is free, and donations are accepted to continue this series of ceremonies and teachings. Flags along the road will lead to the location.
The Sacred Nations Cultural Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a landmark cultural center to bring indigenous people worldwide together to share their ethnic and cultural heritage and spiritual traditions with all people.