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The Nakoda Nation - Social Life

Stoney hunter and family with travois

Spirituality played a central role in Stoney culture. The great Creator was viewed as their supreme being because He was “the One who provides all things … [He] was the very first step and beginning of their tribal society”. The respect of the Creator in all aspects of life including the physical, mental, and spiritual was essential for the Stoney’s survival on earth and the afterlife. The overall Tribe was made up of smaller family bands that traveled and usually camped independently of each other. They did, however, assemble as a larger group at certain times of the year for events like a communal buffalo hunt, a large spiritual ceremony such as the Sun Dance, or a general tribal meeting.

The Stoneys had their own systems of government, which included prophets and Elders who had knowledge of the Creator. Leadership among the Stoney People was determined by the character and social status of certain individuals in the band.  Those who had demonstrated success in warfare or those who had accumulated a fitting amount of wealth and stature would be entitled to the duties and obligations of a band leader. Each person or leader (such as a chief) would have certain powers – for example, the keeper of the knife, the keeper of the whip, the keeper of the staff, and the keeper of the entrance. Under this system each person had a place and each had a specific duty. It was the people with special powers who would be called upon to help out in times of need. The Sun Dance was the most sacred ceremony in which these powers were bestowed.

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