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What you need to know if you wish to Sundance

Deciding to Sundance

Your decision to Sundance should be yours and yours alone. You should have a clear purpose/reason for dancing. For example, you can dance for your own healing, for someone in your family who may be sick or facing a difficult life situation, or for a friend or relative who may be sick, for a person who cannot dance for disability, grieving or other. You can also dance for the healing of Mother Earth and the well-being of the world’s human family and all beings in Nature. 

Give yourself at least one year to prepare for your dance. However, if you have a calling to Sundance, it’s up to you to decide when you want to start. Once decided, you give a tobacco offering to the Sundance Chief and explain why you would like to dance. 

Remember, you’re making a four-year commitment to Sundance.

What you need

For women:

  • A long skirt
  • Your flags (sacred colours 1m x 1m)
  • An Eagle whistle (One will be given to you if you don’t have it)
  • A Sundance badge (One will be given to you if you don’t have it)

Women on their Moon Time will have a special lodge (Moon Lodge) built for them to dance. It will be located beside the Sundance Lodge to the East. Helpers will be there to take care of you.

For men:

  • A wrap (red cloth worn around the waist like a skirt)
  • Your flags (sacred colours 1m x 1m)
  • An Eagle whistle (One will be given to you if you don’t have it)
  • A Sundance badge (One will be given to you if you don’t have it)

All dancers will need warm clothing in case it gets cold. Here in Whapmagoostui, it does get cold at that time of the season (early July). You will need bedding (mattress, warm sleeping bag, pillow) and a polyethylene tarp in case it rains or snows.

If you smoke, you may bring cigarettes (Menthols are the best and but please respect those around you).

Sundance Singing/Meeting

We have four Sundance gatherings in which our singers sing, dancers dance, and Elders give teachings about the Sundance. The Head Coordinator of the ceremony explains the process we follow in a Sundance and the guidelines in place for helpers, dancers, and the public. Here, new dancers offer their tobacco to the Sundance Chief and explain why they wish to dance.

The 4th Sundance meeting occurs one evening before the Sundance Ceremony begins on a Friday. As a dancer, you must attend at least one of the four meetings.

Who may Attend the Sundance?

Everyone is welcome to the Sundance. We do not discriminate against people of other races; however, because of limited space inside the Lodge, priority is given to Indigenous members needing help in dealing with health and other difficult issues in their lives.

People may come to Sundance without going into the Lodge. The healing energy of the ceremony helps those who come, even if they do not enter the Lodge. Many come to observe and experience its healing power.

Those willing to learn by helping or simply observing are welcome.

Ground Rules

The Sundance site is Sacred ground.  It is here we pray to the Great Spirit for healing and guidance. It is where we interact with many people, so we must follow certain rules to keep the site clean and in order at all times. For this to happen, here are guidelines to follow in and around the Sundance Lodge:

  • Absolutely no food or water is to be brought close to the Lodge.
  • Absolutely no drugs or alcohol are allowed on Sacred Grounds.
  • No cell phones are allowed inside the Lodge.
  • Inside the Lodge, cigarette butts must not be disposed of on the ground (Butt cans will be available).
  • No swearing inside the Sacred Grounds is allowed.
  • No spitting inside or around the Lodge.
  • Arguing or open conflict will not be tolerated within the Sacred Grounds.
  • Garbage must be picked up and placed in appropriate containers.
  • Absolutely no electronic devices such as iPods or mp3 players and no loud music around the Lodge will be allowed.
  • No sexual activity should occur inside the Sacred Grounds during the Sundance ceremony.
  • For dancers, abstinence from sex at least four days before and after the ceremony is recommended.
  • Parents are advised to watch over their children closely.
  • If you choose to camp at the site, you’re welcome to do so.  But please be mindful of your neighbours and put the lights out after the ceremony (night break).
  • Bring your plates, utensils and cups for the feast
  • Women on their Moon Time should not go in past the boundary around the Lodge.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather (hot, cold, rain, fog, etc.).
  • No pets are allowed on the ceremonial grounds.
  • If you see children making mischief around the ceremonial grounds, intervene in a good way (don’t get upset).
  • Remember: help out where help is needed.

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