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“Vision quest” or ceremony in which a young man fasts upon a hill and prays for a vision. This vision tells the individual his purpose in life. Hanbleciya—The Lakota term Hanble means “to dream.” The term ciya was once ceya means “to cry.” Literally Hanbleceya means “crying for a dream.”


A Dakota/Lakota ceremony which is used to adopt a non-blood relative. The word for mother, when used in the 2nd person, is pronounced hunku. A Lakota story tells of this couple who loved children and often wished they could have a child. After a time, the father had a dream in which he was instructed to plant what was shown to him. He told his wife what he had seen and they both decided to plant and nurture this plant like a child, and they did. This plant became known as “wagmiza” (corn). As a part of the Hunka Ceremony—corn is a very important symbol of growth and nurturing.


Dakota/Lakota name for the ceremony wherein a sweat lodge is constructed of willow branches and covered with buffalo skins. Inside, participants pray while water is poured over hot rocks. The ceremony is meant to cleanse and purify the mind and body. The term “Inipi” means “to make life new.”


A Dakota/Lakota term translated to mean “my relatives”—a Dakota/Lakota belief that all living things in the world are interconnected. The term is used to demonstrate the unity of man—no matter what race—we are related.


The term given to the group which is composed of headmen, warriors, hunters, and shaman who served as the “tribal council.” These individuals of each tiospaye came together to govern the activities of the group.


The term the Dakota/Lakota gave to themselves meaning “the people.”


The Dakota/Lakota term for the female Buffalo.


Is the Dakota/Lakota term for horse meaning “mysterious dog.”


The name given to Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Chief, later in life. Sitting Bull’s first name was Jumping Badger, but was called Hunkesni or “Slow” because he was willful and deliberate in his ways.


Basic unit of Dakota/Lakota society comprised of small, related family groups. Ti means “to dwell” and Opaye means “part of”—and literally means to be part of a circle.


A Dakota/Lakota term for grandfather. The term is used in many cases in a spiritual sense to indicate reverence and wisdom. A spiritual guide.


The Dakota/Lakota term for dance. More commonly known as a “pow wow” from the Algonquin word “paw wauh” which meant a gathering. In contemporary society, the wacipi celebrations are a cultural and social event for culture sharing.


The Dakota/Lakota word for God, meaning the “great mystery.”


The term for children meaning “sacred beings.” Children are believed to be sacred or “wakan” and were never punished. They were expected to learn by example and were reprimanded through shaming or teasing.


A “great mystery.”


Dakota/Lakota term for the “winter count.” The winter count was a calendar-like device in which the Dakota/Lakota used to record time. Generally events significant to the people were painted on animal hides.


Individuals responsible for making certain tribal council decisions, based upon the will of the people.


Grand/national council “supreme owners of the nation”—a council of respected leaders who were responsible for formulating policy, approved actions of separate bands, and set in judgment on offenses against the nations unity and security.


Highly decorated and respected individual. A “wise man” who insured the well-being of the people.


A Paiute man credited with having a vision of a dance called the “Ghost Dance” that would protect the people. The “Ghost Dance” was a pan-tribal religious movement which promised to protect the people from the destitute conditions they suffered in 1889. The followers of Wovoka believed that they would be returned to older traditions and values if they participated in the dance.