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Azana and Annika

10th of July, 2016


Pine Ridge '16

Yesterday we were greeted with another wonderful breakfast of breakfast burritos and oatmeal prepared by Bev and Fern. While we ate, we listened to a story from Bev about the history of her family and the significance of the Sundance. A Sundance is a religious ceremony in which the Lakota will dance, pray, and fast for four days and nights in order to receive answers to their prayers. Some men will even give flesh offerings in which they pierce themselves with bone pegs and rip themselves free in order to demonstrate self-sacrifice. Bev was telling us how her son had a terminal illness and was given one year to live. She participated in the Sundance for 8 years and prayed for her son and her prayers were indeed answered—he lived for another 8 years. Because of miracles like these, Sundances play a big role in the lives of Bev and many other Lakota because it allows them to connect with the spirits on a deeper and more meaningful level.
After breakfast, we headed to the PowWow grounds where they cut wood used for the fires for the Sundance as well as to heat the rocks for the inipi ceremony. As the wood was cut we formed an assembly line to load it onto the trailer. It was a challenging task and temperatures reached close to 100 degrees, but in accordance with our word of the day, we exemplified tenacity and finished the job. After we loaded the trailers we headed to the Sundance site to unload the wood and finished the task in less than 20 minutes. We could all tell the Lakota were appreciative of our work and we were glad we were able to help with a task that could take several days with fewer people, for as our quote of the day says, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”- Harriet Tubman.
Later, after Bev and Fern brought lunch to the Sundance site we went to pick sage in the fields. While gathering the sage, Bree talked about how important the sage is to the Lakota. It is used to smudge and purify homes and cleanse the children during the healing camp; it also is a symbol that gives them hope for a bigger and brighter future.
We returned to the Morning Star School for Girls to water and mulch the flowerbed, then we drove to visit Wounded Knee, a site where American soldiers massacred 300 Lakota men, women, and children in 1890.
It was raining when we arrived back at the campsite, and it was much appreciated because it was the closest we had gotten to a shower in days. After discussing our trip to Wounded Knee and ethical dilemmas, we sat back and enjoyed a double rainbow peeking out from the clouds following the rainstorm. The rainbows reminded us that despite the challenges facing this reservation and the Lakota people, there is always hope for the future. We see that we cannot focus only on the clouds or storms of the reservation, but always remember there is a brighter future possible.



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