proven abilities. The most important of the nacas societies, the Naca Omincia , functioned as something of a tribal council. Operating by consensus, it had the power to declare war and to negotiate peace. A few members of the Naca Ominicia were appointed wicasa itancans , who were responsible for implementing decisions of the Naca Ominicia . Many vestiges of traditional Lakota community organizational structure have been replaced, at least on the surface, by structures forced upon the Lakota by the U.S. government. One important leader in the society was the wicasa wakan , a healer respected for wisdom as well as curative powers. This healer was consulted on important tribal decisions by the wicasa itancans , and is still consulted on important matters by the Lakota people today.
Religion The Sun Dance, also known as the Offerings Lodge ceremonial, is one of the seven sacred ceremonials of the Sioux and is a ceremonial for which they have come to be widely known. The most famous Sun Dance occurs in early August at Pine Ridge. The Sun Dance takes place in early July at Rosebud, and at other times among other Sioux communities. The ceremonials, however, are not performed for the benefit of tourists. Attendance by tourists is discouraged. No American Indian religion has been more closely studied or more widely known than the Sioux religion, partly due to the appeal of John Niehardt's book, Black Elk Speaks, in which he recorded his interviews with the Sioux spiritual leader earlier this century. Another reason for its prominence is because the American Indian Movement adopted many of the practices of the Sioux religion for its own and carried those practices to many areas of the continent where they had not been widely known. The so-called New Age movement within American culture has also become captivated by the religious practices of the northern Plains Indians, primarily the Cheyenne and the Sioux (practices that are largely foreign to Indians in many other areas of the continent, but which are perceived by many Americans as representative of Indians in general). Yet, until by act of Congress, the American Indians Religious Freedom Act of 1978, the practice of Indian religions was a crime in the United States. The practice of many Native American religions throughout the continent was forced underground in the late nineteenth century as news spread about the massacre of 153 unarmed Minneconjou Sioux men, women, and children by the U.S. Army at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation on December 29, 1890. The Minneconjous, camped at Wounded Knee Creek, had been holding a Ghost Dance, attempting to fulfill the prophecies of the Paiute visionary Wovoka. While fleeing their own agency after the murder of Sitting Bull, they tried to reach what they perceived to be the safety of the protection of Chief Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, who was on friendly terms with the U.S. government.
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- Fall '16
- Native Americans in the United States, Sioux