CLASS. For the Sioux nation, religion is an integral part of daily life. The Sioux’s world view, like that of a number of other indigenous peoples, embraces shamanism, animism and polytheism.
The Sioux were a deeply spiritual people, believing in one all-pervasive god, Wakan Tanka, or the Great Mystery. Religious visions were cultivated and the people communed with the spirit world through music and dance.
The Great Spirit was the Sioux God.
The Sioux tribe believed in spirits which could bring good or evil to their tribe. They feared floods, believing that the waves were evil spirits. Unlike the white settlers, the Sioux only killed animals for food.
Early European explorers describe individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices. Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, shamanistic, pantheistic or any combination thereof, among others.
The Seven Lakota Values, given by the White Buffalo Calf Woman, have also suffered through the loss of language and today’s fast paced, technological lifestyle. The values include Praying, Respect, Caring and Compassion, Honesty and Truth, Generosity and Caring, Humility, and Wisdom.
The Lakota (pronounced [laˈkˣota]; Lakota: Lakȟóta/Lakhóta) are a Native American tribe. Also known as the Teton Sioux (from Thítȟuŋwaŋ), they are one of the three prominent subcultures of the Sioux people. Their current lands are in North and South Dakota.
Today they constitute one of the largest Native American groups, living mainly on reservations in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana; the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is the second largest in the United States.
The term “Sioux” is an exonym created from a French transcription of the Ojibwe term “Nadouessioux “, and can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or to any of the nation’s many language dialects.
Background Info: The name “sioux” is short for Nadowessioux, meaning “little snakes”, which was a spiteful nickname given to them by the Ojibwe, their longtime foe. The fur traders abbreviated this name to Sioux and is now commonly used. The Sioux were the dominant tribe in Minnesota in the 17th century.
The Sun Dance was the most important ceremony practiced by the Lakota (Sioux) and nearly all Plains Indians. It was a time of renewal for the tribe, people and earth. The village was large, as many bands came together for this annual rite. Each tribe camped within their own circle, which was part of another circle.
Enemies of the Sioux were the French, Ojibway, Assinibone, and the Kiowa Indians. One of the allies of the Sioux were the Arikara.
The Lakota are a fiercely strong and powerful tribe whose leaders and warrior have achieved the status of legends the world over, like Red Claw, American Horse, Young Man Afraid of His Horses, Red Horn Buffalo, and Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is the Lakota’s hero, and held in high esteem and legend by the tribe.
It’s important to remember that Native Americans do not have one single religion. Instead, there are many different belief systems among peoples. Many of the religions have certain similarities, like a creator. Place and nature are important, as well as sacred, or holy, spaces.
Most of them are Christian, but traditional ideas can still be found in the use of traditional plants for healing, dances that reinforce the Cherokee identity, references to some of the old sacred Cherokee sites, and a festival that is held each year at Green Corn time.