*A Note on the All Nations Way

In the early 1960’s the Sun Dance was brought from hiding, where it had been performed in secret since the beginning of the Reservation period in the 1890’s when Lakota Ceremonies were made illegal. As word of the re-emergence spread non-Indigenous people started to show up in support. In accordance with the customs of Traditional Hospitality these supporters were invited to participate in sweat lodge Ceremonies. These Ceremonies, apparently Traditional Inipi Ceremonies, became quickly problematic.

According to the legends from this time the Spirits who would come into the Lodge during the Ceremony became angry that the non-Indigenous people were not familiar with and did not believe as the Lakota people did and would ‘beat up on’ the medicine men who were leading the Ceremony. Some of these men emerged from the Ceremony with bruises on their bodies from the angry Spirits.

The Chiefs and the Medicine Men put their minds together and resolved to create a different Ceremony, one where it would be safe for people of All Nations to attend, no matter what their belief systems, and to conduct the Ceremony in English or other languages. These Ceremonies came to be called “All Nations” Ceremonies because they were safe for people of All Nations to participate in.

By the late 60’s and early 70’s non-Indigenous men had begun Sun Dancing according to the Traditional Protocols for the Dance. Eventually women were allowed to dance, too.

In 1978 the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act was passed by the US Congress.

“Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That henceforth it shall be the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

This led to an explosion of participation in Sun Dances. One of the requirements on some Sun Dancers is to sweat several times (sometimes monthly) between Dances. Naturally family and friends were invited to these Ceremonies. And it was the All Nations Ceremony, in many variations, that these Sun Dancers carried home with them, creating a Ceremonial diaspora that is still occurring today.

There is no central authority over the All Nations Way of which I am aware, although it will not surprise me if someone tries to claim it.

The foregoing history has been confirmed to me by Chief Lone Hill.

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