Lakota Leader,

David Swallow,

Speaks Out on Sundance:

A Warning for This Summer
By Stephanie M. Schwartz,
Freelance Writer - Member, Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)

© May 23, 2007  Porcupine, South Dakota

David Swallow, Wowitan Yuha Mani, a spiritual leader, sundance chief, and one of the Headmen of the Lakota Nations spoke out today in concern for the upcoming sundance ceremony season.  Speaking from his home near Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Oglala Reservation, Mr. Swallow issued the following statement:

“In the Lakota Way, the sundance is one of the oldest ceremonies there is for us.  As a participant, it is about giving, giving of yourself, so that your relatives, your family, your People, and whoever you are praying for receives good blessings.”

“Traditionally, in order to participate, one of four things must happen.  The first is that you receive a true vision, a vision of the sundance.  Second, you are guided to participate through something that happens in another ceremony such as in an Inipi Sweatlodge Ceremony, House Ceremony, or Yuwipi Ceremony.  Third, it is an individual commitment of four days as a thanksgiving for blessings received or as a plea for help to change one’s life.  Or fourth, spirit or a qualified spiritual leader instructs you to do so.”

“Only a spiritual leader or holy man can lead a sundance.  It is not a circus for just anyone to run.  First, the holy man must go up on the hill (hanblecha) for four days and three nights for four to seven years consecutively, as advised by the Old Ones, the Elders.  Only then is someone qualified to run a sundance or any other ceremony.”

“Today, a lot of wannabe’s and young people think they can run a sundance.  That is why our families are breaking apart, why our children are crying, why our children are killing themselves.”

“Wowitan Yuha Mani says to these bogus, self-appointed leaders that they need to straighten up and go under a real wicasa wakan, a real holy man.  Go up on the hill.  Fulfill the requirements and the training.  Do things in the right way, the correct way.”

If they do that, things will be better.  Otherwise, we are all in serious trouble.

Let’s all be careful this summer.

Ho he’cetu yelo, I have spoken.
Mitakuye oyasin, -David Swallow, Wowitan Yuha Mani

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Stephanie M. Schwartz may be reached at
Photo © 2003 David Swallow  Porcupine, South Dakota