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The Nakoda Nation - Spiritual Life

Sun Dance Camp

For the Stoneys, spirituality was associated with the land. Human kindness was imprinted in their hearts, and the law of the Great Spirit – or the Creator – was the only law that they observed. 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 during the afterlife.

Each Tribe had its own distinct variations of the Sun Dance. For Stoney Bands, a Sun Dance would be held in times of great need or when a vision of a Sun Dance came to an individual. The Sun Dance was a very religious ceremony: “In the Sun Dances, they prayed to the Creator and all the creatures, the sun, the wind, the water, and all living things” (1996:90).

Sweat lodges were used for spiritual purposes even though it was questioned by the government at the time. Such lodges can be, and often are, a threshold for communication with the Creator; therefore, it is necessary to exercise care and good intent in all things connected with a Sweat Lodge. The purpose, in most cases, went beyond cleansing the body, as it was also practiced to “reconnect with Mother Earth,” or as a means to prepare for other sacred ceremonies like the Sun Dance. (Dunn 2004)

The Peace Pipe was used in Native ceremonies as a blessing and an offering. The Peace Pipe was in the presence of the treaty signing as an indication of respect and honour for the treaty and all of its contents.

The spiritual beliefs of the Stoneys all began with the Creator, who gave powers to the animals. These powers or gifts were then passed on to human beings. The “rattle” was also very sacred, and when a woman possessed one she was to be treated with great respect. Only a person who has a song given to him or her by the spirits can posses one, but he or she cannot own the rattle. The Creator taught the Indian how to make a living on earth with all its creations. The Stoneys in return gave thanks with sweetgrass offerings and through other ceremonies.

Dunn, Samantha. “Rituals of healing.” Natural Health. Vol. 34, Issue 2. 2004.

Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council. “The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7.” Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1996.

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