Mr. Joe Esquash of Swan Lake First Nation. He is a very humble and Traditional man. My Dad calls him the Old Man, and he calls my Dad the Old Man. He has handed and taught the Ceremony to my cousin's husband. I was lucky enough to be a Whip-man at that Ceremony for a while. I really miss that Old Man. He is what is best in Traditional people. Here he sits among the Flags of Offerings at a Sundance Lodge.
Bronze of an Indian dragging Buffalo Skulls. One rope has broken off of his back.
Why do people do it? Why do people offer themselves to be cut through the skin, have wooden pegs pushed into their skin, have ropes attached to the pegs, have the ropes attached to Buffalo Skulls, and then drag the Buffalo Skulls around the grounds of the SunDance Lodge?
It is about sacrifice. We sacrifice our lives for the people. The symbolic act of giving of ones life for the life of others. I have heard of people dancing for the health of loved ones. They forgo food, forgo water and continuously dance all day and into the evening for someone's health. You are tested. Not for strength or courage. You are tested for belief and prayer. You pray for others. For you children, your parents, your community, for the people. You are told not to pity those that are dancing. You rejoice for them. They are doing what is best for the people. It is up to the Creator to pity them.
I love that about Indians. They are still trying to give for people. Lot of different people in a lot of different societies know sacrifice. We see everyday in the news with the people that are battling in war-torn countries. We see in those countries that people are suffering from natural disasters. We see it in the people that are not able to feed their families.
We hope that sacrifice is answered.