An Ancient Bond with the Land

Communal Hunters

Respect for the Bison

People did not assume that their hunts would be successful. Before the hunt, they held ceremonies that included songs, dances, mimicry of bison behaviour, offerings and prayers. The aim was to charm the animals into entering a trap, and giving themselves up for human use.

The ceremonies often included the use of an iniskim (buffalo stone) as a kind of charm. People also erected rock cairns topped by bison skulls to attract the herds magically. Sometimes they build a bison pound around a medicine pole or sacred tree, from which a shaman would "call" the herd into the trap.

"The buffalo represents the people and the universe and should always be treated with respect, for was he not here before the two-legged peoples, and is he not generous in that he gives us our homes and our food? The buffalo is wise in many things, and, thus, we should learn from him and should always be as a relative with him."

Black Elk
Oglala Sioux holy man

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