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Nature's Law
Spiritual Life, Governance, Culture, Traditions, Resources, Context and Background
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Sacred Pipe

Sacred Pipe

Sweatlodge

Sun Dance

Vision Quest

Medicine People

Hunting

Visual representation of nature's laws


The pipe George carries is as symbolic to Native religion as the cross to Christianity, and, with it, he leads those who come to him toward God. When he lights tobacco in it, he sends prayers skyward to the Great Spirit with the smoke.


The Pipe Spirit
Series Coordinator - Dr. Earle Waugh
© 1980 Access

 

"A pipe bowl is made of rock, solid and strong. When Saint Peter went to Rome he stood on a rock and said, 'Upon this rock I shall build my church.' We hold a pipe and say, 'Upon this rock I will build my church.' After the Great Spirit created all other spirits - Mother Earth, the moon, the stars ... he told his angels he needed one more helper. A rock stood up and said, 'I will be the one to always be with the Indian people until the end of the world. When they do something wrong, I will correct their prayers.' Be careful of what you say and do, rocks are always near."


Sweet Grass, The Pipe, and Smoke Offerings
Series Coordinator - Dr. Earle Waugh
© 1980 Access

 

The wooden pipe-stem is a tree, sacred in all it offers: warmth, shelter, shade, medicine, tools. Straight and strong, it is the centre pole (Meili 150) - the focal point - of fasters in a Sundance lodge as they send their prayers up it, skyward. George says the tree can be likened to the cross Christ died upon and the men who dance are angels blowing trumpets in Jericho.

They then slowly advanced, the horsemen again preceding them on their approach to my tent. I advanced to meet them, accompanied by Messrs. Christie and McKay, when the pipe was presented to us and stroked by our hands.

After the stroking had been completed, the Indians sat down in front of the council tent, satisfied that in accordance with their custom we had accepted the friendship of the Cree nation. In this statement, Morris underestimated the importance to the Indians of the pipe-stem ceremony. It signified more than an offer of friendship, although that was certainly included. The pipe-stem ceremony was a sacred act undertaken before conducting any matter of importance. In the presence of the pipe, "only the truth must be used and any commitment made in its presence must be kept."

From the point of view of the government officials, the ceremonial was merely a picturesque preliminary favoured by Indian custom. To them, the binding act of making treaty was the signing of the document at the close of negotiations. This was the mode of affirming agreements among Europeans. On the other hand, " . . . the only means used by the Indians to finalize an agreement or to ensure a final commitment was by the use of the pipe."

 

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