School on Pine Ridge Reservation Immerses Children in Lakota Culture

Students at Powwow 2019

“The girl with the braids strikes a match.

Without hesitation, she holds the flame to a sage bundle until the whitish-green leaves catch fire, sending smoke billowing into the air as three fellow students and two teachers standing in a circle beside her watch.

She carries the smoking bundle around the circle, stopping briefly before each person as they each reach into the smoke and brush it up toward their heads, trying to fan the smoke into their hair. The hair is a source of power to the Lakota people, and the smoke from burning sage is a purifying medicine.

As the smoke slowly rises inside the warm light of the classroom, songbirds whistle outside, and a man begins a prayer song.

As the girl finishes, she places the burning sage bundle into the conch shell and lays the shell on a buffalo hide at her feet.

The man ends his song and says a prayer of thanks to start the day at the Lakota Waldorf School.”

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