Seven Sacred Instructions – Our Constitution
A Brief Description of Common Lakota Ceremonies
Among the Sioux there were, historically, seven central community ceremonial rites:
1. Canupa: The Sacred Pipe Ceremony
2. Inipi: The Sweat Lodge
3. Hanblecha: The Vision Quest
4. Wiwangwacipi: The Sun Dance
5. Hunkapi: The Making of Relatives
6. The Keeping of The Soul
7. Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan: Preparing a Girl for Womanhood
These ceremonies occur during different stages of human life, and seasonal change. Though different in nature, the common focus among all of them was the health and healing of individuals and the community. Proper, regular involvement in the essential community ceremonies was, and still is, seen as fundamental to Lakota healing (Red Deer, 2001).
The prohibition of Sioux ceremonies and gatherings during the 1800s and 1900s resulted in the loss of cultural continuity, knowledge and reduced the importance and frequency of some of these ceremonies (Bucko, 1998). Today, these ceremonies are practiced in varying degrees depending on the region and the community. The most common of these community ceremonies today are the Canupa (Pipe Ceremony), Inipi
(Sweat Lodge), the Hanblecha (Vision Quest) and the Winwangwacipi (Sun Dance). Each of these four ceremonies are used to bring psychological, physical, spiritual and emotional healing to individuals and communities (Erdoes and Crow Dog, 1995).