Sacred Texts  Native American  Plains  Index  Previous  Next 


The location of the ceremonial camp circle is selected by common consent. The requisites are promixity to water, growing cottonwood, and sufficient wood. The site for the circle should be nearly level so that there will be no obstructions to the rites. It should be chosen and announced in time for all bands that are to attend the ceremony to journey to it in a leisurely fashion.

Each band should canvas this journey so that the magistrate may know its pleasure in regard to the movement. He should appoint the marshals and scouts of the movement and the day for the beginning of the journey,

p. 95

so that it will be completed not less than four days before the ceremonial camp ought to be established. From the time this journey begins, until the band locates its camp after leaving the place where the ceremony is performed, each day is a holiday for the band. Then the potency of the Whirlwind pervades the movements and encampments and all are bent on pleasure. The people jest and have sports that all may be merry; the old men sound their rattles to ward against Iktomi and his pranks; the young men woo; and the old women make incense of twigs or bark of cottonwood to foil Anog Ite.

Before beginning each day's journey, the magistrate, the marshals of movement, and the scouts should go apart from the people, and the magistrate should offer smoke to the Four Winds and pray to him for good weather; and to the Sky and pray for His care while the band is moving. When all are ready, the magistrate should send the scouts ahead on the route he has chosen and the marshals of the movement back to the people. Then the ordinary organization of the camp is in abeyance until the people are again encamped. The magistrate should lead the movement of the band and the marshals should maintain compliant with the Oglala customs that govern such movements. The movement of the band should not be faster than the slowest member of the band can travel and it may be as leisurely as the distance will permit. At the end of each fourth of the distance to be traveled in a day the magistrate should sit and light his pipe. This is the signal for all to unburden for rest and refreshment. When the fourth signal is given the people should encamp. When the tipis are set up, the ordinary organization of the camp is resumed.

The band should journey in this manner each day until it arrives at the place for the ceremonial camp. If two bands come together on their journey they should coalesce, according to the customs of the Oglala; but as bands, they may each contend with the other in friendly contests and games.

During the journey and until they enter the Sacred Lodge, the Candidates should keep aloof from the people and have no part in their levities. All who intend to participate in the ceremony should complete this, journey so as to coalesce with the other bands on the day when the Moon is four hands' breadth above the edge of the world, when the Sun goes down out of sight, for on that day the preliminary Sun Dance camp should be established, its council lodge erected, and a council fire built. The preliminary camp is for the purpose of completing the organization to take effect at dawn of the day when the ceremonial camp is to be established. The duration of the preliminary camp should be four days preceding the establishment of the ceremonial camp and during these four days the people

p. 96

may spend their time in social intercourse and merry-making. Then young women should seek spears of grama grass that bear four heads, for their possession insures good luck in love affairs.

Next: The First Day's Ceremony