Sacred Texts  Native American  Plains  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 63


He should choose some one to be his Mentor to prepare him for the Ceremony. He should make this choice according to the purpose for which he will undertake the dance, for his Mentor should be one who can fit him for that purpose. He may choose anyone, except that if he is to dance to become a Shaman he must choose a Shaman as his Mentor. This too, should be borne in mind, that to become the leader of the dance the Candidate's Mentor must be a Shaman.

When he has made his choice he should take a present, a pipe, and smoking material, and go to the tipi of the one chosen, enter it, and lay the present at the right side of the catku, which is the place at the rear inside the tipi, and opposite the door, the place of honor. By thus placing a present, one indicates that he has a request of importance to make. When he has placed the present, he should fill the pipe, light it, and offer it to the one chosen. In ordinary visits, the one who dwells in the tipi is first to fill the pipe and light it and then offers it to the visitor as a courtesy indicating friendship. If a visitor fills the pipe first and offers it to the host, this indicates that he esteems his host very highly and is willing to be subordinate to him. If the host refuses the pipe this indicates that he does not desire intimate relations with the one offering it. If the pipe thus offered by one who has made a choice for his Mentor is refused, he may choose another, but it would be better for him to proceed no farther in the matter because such a refusal would indicate that all his people are not willing to become constituents in a ceremony performed for him. But if the pipe is accepted, the one offering and the one accepting it, should smoke it in communion until its contents are consumed. Why they two alone should smoke this pipeful and why they should smoke until the contents of the pipe are consumed, will appear in the course of this paper.

Having smoked in communion, which is done by passing the pipe from one to the other and alternately smoking four whiffs from it, the host should ask the visitor regarding his request and the visitor should tell his desires and make his request. In case the request is for the host to become a Mentor, he should take the present and place it with his possessions and appoint a day when he will come to the tipi of the one who has chosen him, and then and there, give his answer to the request. The one who is to receive this answer should make a feast on the appointed day and invite two of his friends to the feast. On that day, the one chosen and the invited friends should go to the tipi where the feast is made and feast with the one who gives it.

p. 64

After the feast, the one who is to receive the answer should fill a pipe, light it, and offer it to the one he has chosen, saying, "Tunkansila, smoke that all may be as we desire." The Lakota word, tunkansila, ordinarily means maternal grandfather, but it is often used as a term of reverence, and as used in this rite, indicates that the one using it desires the one to whom he has applied it, to become his instructor, to whom he will subordinate his thoughts, words, and deeds; that is, that lie desires him to become his Mentor. The one to whom the pipe is thus offered should take it, saying "Wole, I will smoke that all may be as we desire." The Lakota word, wole, means one who seeks, and as used here it means one who seeks preparation to dance the Sun Dance or, in other words, a Candidate. When the pipe has thus been offered and accepted, the four who have feasted together should smoke it in communion until its contents are consumed. By these rites the relation of Mentor and Candidate is assumed and as this relationship is considered sacred, the titles are capitalized in this paper. This relationship continues from the time it is assumed, until the dance begins in the Sun Dance Lodge. It must be assumed before the establishment of the preliminary camp and may be at any time that will permit instruction of the Candidate to fit him for the purpose of his dance. For the first form of the dance, this may be but a few days before the establishment of the preliminary camp, but for the dance in its fullest form, the relationship should be assumed not later than during the moon when water-fowls return from the south, though it is better if assumed during the time of the snows.

When the rites of assuming the relationship are completed the Mentor should appoint one of the friends present to be the attendant of the Candidate, with the proviso that if at any time he is not able to perform his duties the other friend present shall act in his place. The one so appointed should attend and serve the Candidate from the time of his appointment until the Candidate has danced the Sun Dance and returned from the Sun Dance Lodge to his own tipi. It is expected that he and the Candidate will be kolapi, or comrades, (luring the remainder of their lives. When these formalities are completed, the Mentor should rise to return to his tipi, handing his pipe and tobacco pouch to the Candidate. The Candidate should take them, and carry them, following the Mentor to his tipi. This is the public announcement by the Candidate that lie is to dance the Sun Dance, and when it is made, the council of his band should assemble in the council lodge to approve of the candidacy and thereby pledge the people as constituents of the ceremony.

Next: Invitations