SUNDANCE CEREMONY 2019
July 12 - 21
Kunsi Keya Tamakoce (Grandmother Turtle Island) welcomes you to the opportunity of participating and praying in the traditional ways of the Lakota people, as seen in the vision of, two-spirited Oglala Sioux woman, Beverly Littlethunder. The Women's Sundance is led by Beverly and her daughter Lushanya. Lushanya has participated in, learned, and led Lakota sweat lodge, vision quest, and Sundance her entire life.
Please arrive with the wisdom that you are choosing to participate in a ceremony gifted from the Lakota ancestors to women from the Lakota ancestry. This is not a festival, nor co-opted ceremony.
The Lakota Sundance Ceremony is a very sacred ceremony that requires quiet attention and prayerful respect in your participation, and we ask that you observe some basic etiquette when participating.
You never know what to expect at Sundance, and nothing but the experience gives you this wisdom. Should you decide to attend, please read this information even if you have attended a traditional Native American ceremony in the past. Be open to learn and observe, do not assume you know. We want to always be respectful of this ancestral tradition.
Also, please note there may be two-spirited men in attendance. This is a change to previous years. The Sundance Council believes it is important to honor these men who are otherwise oppressed at their own home ceremonies. These brothers will support us during our preparation and prayer.
Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself in advance, so that your energy at Sundance may be directed toward the purpose of Sundance.
What is a Lakota Sundance?
The Sundance is one of the Seven Sacred Ceremonies given to the Lakota people. Sundance is a ceremony that represents life and rebirth. Sundance is a New Year ceremony celebrated in the summer, usually on a full moon. It is a powerful and sacred ceremony that has withstood severe oppression, many times, since it was given to the Lakota People. It was once exclusively Lakota, but has become a ceremony employed by many other American Indian tribes. Each tribe has its own variation of Sundance.
The focus of this Ceremony is one prayer: healing for the Mother Earth. We are praying for all humanity. We are giving thanks for all the good things that the Creator has given to us.
The Lakota Women’s Sundance lasts 10 days. The first day is spent preparing personal camps. The next four days are spent in purification, ridding oneself of physical and emotional wastes, and preparing for the Creator’s help and blessing. Four days are the ones in which the dancing and most of the Ceremony take place. The last day is used for cleaning personal camps, space, and returning the land better than it was found.
What is an "Inipi"?
The Inipi, or Sweat Lodge, is the way we pray to the Creator. The Sweat Lodge is the purification process, which begins and ends all Lakota Ceremonies. The lodge represents the womb of our Mother Earth, and when we crawl out at the end of the Inipi Ceremony, it is compared to experiencing a rebirth. All Sundance participants are asked to sweat once a day. Sweatlodges will be offered in the morning and evening. The sweat lodges provided at Sundance are gentle and cleansing and last one hour In our tradition, it is not the intention of the water pourer to make the heat so intense to cause discomfort for stronger prayers. If sweating once day is a limitation for you, please communicate to Lushanya prior to your arrival and modifications can be discussed.
About the Sundance Leaders
The birth mother of the Wimmin’s Sundance is Beverly Little Thunder. Beverly began dancing 40 years ago. Until 1987, Beverly was a Lakota Sundance leader and recognized as a respected female in the traditional Sundance community. When Beverly came out as a "two-spirit" womon, she was asked to leave her traditional Sundance family. Seeking guidance, Beverly approached a female elder. The elder’s wisdom led Beverly to envision a variation of the traditional Lakota Sundance: a ceremony of strength and empowerment generated by women.
The Wimmin’s Sundance is a vision, rooted within traditional Lakota culture; however, Beverly’s vision imagined change in some traditional protocol. In traditional Lakota ceremonies, women are inferior to men. In addition, only participants able to prove their Native American heritage are allowed privileges such as facilitating Inipi Ceremonies, beating the Sacred Drum, entering the Arbor, and becoming a Sundancer.
The vision gifted to Beverly portrayed women, Native American and from other descents, fulfilling the roles of Sundance in a careful and nurturing way.
Presently, Beverly, her partner Pam and family are living on 101 acres of land in Vermont where the ceremony will be held. Beverly’s vision is to build a community for women of Native descent to have space to honor the ceremonies of their ancestors. The land will be held in trust for future generations to care for, and continue the Wimmin’s Sundance Ceremony.
About Lushanya Echeverria
Beverly’s youngest daughter, Lushanya, has participated in Lakota ceremonies since she was 3 years old. Following the traditions of the ceremonies in which she was raised, Lushanya has been a Sundancer most of her life, and has led many sweat lodge and pipe ceremonies for various communities.
Lushanya divides her time between Vermont and Arizona, where she works with youth at risk. Lushanya works with adolescents in behavior modification, mindfulness meditation, conflict resolution, and leadership development.
Lushanya is committed to the continuation of the women's Sundance ceremony
What is the difference between a "Sundancer" and a "Supporter"?
Supporters are community members who provide the structure and logistics for the Ceremony. There is much physical work involved in the Ceremony, as well as in the healing and prayer of the Ceremony. This includes, but is not limited to: drumming, fire keeping, preparing meals, woodcutting, preparing the arbor, singing and prayerful observation of the Ceremony.
Supporters are expected to enter the Sweat Lodge at least once a day. Supporters are the vitality of the ceremony. Each supporter will be expected to participate in all aspects of the Ceremony; to the extent she is able.
Supporters will refrain from all mind-altering substances including marijuana, peyote and alcohol for four days prior to arriving on Sundance Land. Supporters must remain drug and alcohol free until after your final departure. Drug or alcohol use of any kind is prohibited while attending Sundance.
At this time, Sundancers are women of native descent who dedicate their year to prayer and preparation to dance for the People and for Mother Earth, and have attended Sundance Ceremony for at least four years. During Sundance, dancers have two roles. During purification, a Sundancer’s role is to work alongside the supporters: preparing the Arbor, Sweat Lodges, assembling the tipi and kitchen area. During the Ceremony, Sundancers become selfless beings. They pray for everyone on the Earth, except themselves.
During purification, Sundancers are preparing to enter the world of the spirits. During this time, Sundancers are expected to enter the Sweat Lodge each morning and evening. Sundancers may choose to limit their conversation, in preparation for the Ceremony.
The Sundancer’s role is to sacrifice their needs for the good of the People. During the Ceremony, Sundancers are isolated from the community of supporters, fast from food and water, and speak only to the Creator, through prayer.
What support will I receive as a supporter?
Upon on-land registration, each supporter will receive a daily schedule.
All women who are attending for the first time will be assigned a mentor upon your arrival at Sundance. The mentor will provide support by answering questions that arise and introducing you to the Sundance Supporters Council.
The Supporters Council is a small group of women who have attended the Wimmin’s Sundance for many years, and have made the Ceremony a part of their lives. The wimmin who sit on this Council have extensive knowledge about Wimmin’s Sundance protocol. These wimmin will be a resource for you and/or your mentor. Most importantly, the Supporters Council’s primary goal is to maintain peace in the energy that surrounds Sundance.
The nearest major town is Burlington, VT. There are several options regarding transportation: Burlington International Airport, Bus, (Mega Bus arrives in Burlington at University of Vermont and the Greyhound at the airport, please let us know which bus line), or personal vehicles. Arrangements can be made to transport wimmin to and from Burlington, VT. Arrangements must be made at least two weeks prior to your arrival. When making your arrangements, please have your arrival and departure time, flight/bus number and any connecting flight information that is available. Please be prepared to compensate the driver $10 each way.
Arriving On the Land
Wimmin are welcome and needed to come early and stay after the Ceremony to assist with set-up and clean up. We especially need women to stay Monday and Tuesday for clean up after ceremony; this will help both the Ceremony and your transitional time. Please let us know in advance the dates you will be able to attend this will allow us to plan meals.
Please CLICK HERE to register for Sundance ceremony
To apply for the women of color scholarship, please CLICK HERE