SACRED WIND CAVE  (Washun Wakan or Washun Niya)
Black Hills, Wind Cave, Race Track, the Buffalo Gap and the Hot
Springs. (updating)
Lakota Oyate Community

~Pte San Lowanpi (Buffalo Woman Song)
In a prayer for the Pte San Lowanpi (Buffalo Woman Song) ceremony ((she appears as a bison woman who becomes the companion of a human man and brings the bison to his people from her subterranean world, in tribes, the narratives represent a concatenation of two storytelling traditions, the Buffalo and Corn (or Rush) woman tale and the Buffalo Wife story)), Black Elk (in Brown 1971:119 ~ 120) gives these words:

 O you, giant, Waziah, Power of the north, who guard the health of the people with your winds, and who purify the earth by making it white, you are the one who watches that path upon which our people walk. Help us especially today with your purifying influence, for we are about to make sacred a virgin, White Buffalo Cow Woman Appears, from whom will come the generations of our people. There is a place for you in this pipe...

"O You where the Giant lives, who purifies with Your white breath, and You, winged one who guard this straight path, we are placing You in this pipe, and so help us with Your two sacred red and blue days!"

―Song of the White Buffalo Maiden, which reads,
―Niya‟ tanin‟yan...with visible breath, mawa‟niye ...I am walking.

When it is cold during the winter, ―the breath of a herd of buffalo, rising in the frosty air, could be plainly seen.

Some Common Lakota Words and Terms
From Lakota Belief and Ritual by James R. Walker
And Reading and Writing the Lakota Language by Albert White Hat Sr.

Ate Father.
Heyoka Opposite to nature
Hunka Lowanpi The Hunka ceremony or making of relatives. Lowan means song or singing. Lowanpi means singing with ceremonies or performances.
Ihanktonwan The Yankton people. Those who dwell by the end.
Ihanktonwanna The smaller division of the Yankton people. Or Little End dwellers. Yanktonais.
Iktomi Spider Like (the trickster spirit who once was called Ksa, son of Inyan).
Inyan The Stone or Rock. Before there was any other thing, or any time, Inyan was, and his spirit was, Wakan Tanka.
Inyan was soft and shapeless but he had all powers. He gave of his blood to make Maka (Earth)
and became hard
and powerless. His blood was blue and became the waters of the earth.
Isanti or
Those who lived near Knife La
ke east of the Mississippi.
The second son of Inyan, who is utterly evil and the chief of all evil beings. Committed incest with his mother
and their offspring is a very beautiful, enticing and deceitful demon whose name is
Iya Tate
Incomprehensible. An incomprehensible fact that cannot be demonstrated.
A male friend
The older son of Inyan brought forth full-grown from an egg in an anti-natural manner by
God of wisdom but he became the imp of mischief and his name is (now)
The Earth and Grandmother of all things.
Maza waken
Wakan iron or gun. (Because the shot from it is like the act of the Wakan.)
Spirit Lake or Sacred Lake people.
Mini wakan
Wakan water, intoxicating liquor.
The spirit that has never been in a man. The spirit that guides man but is not part of a man. Both good and bad.
South Wind
A song.
The People or Nation
Guardian or intellect.
The Sky
Taku Skanskan
Changes things.
Taku Wakan
Wakan Relatives. (“Relatives” relates to all things in nature, not just to blood relatives or other humans.)
Taku wakan
Things mysterious.
Great beast (bull buffalo or bison). The patron of ceremonies, of health, and of provision.
The one with the
big body.
The Wind, created by Skan to be his companion.
People of the prairie or dwellers in the grass lands.
Venerable one.
Contention. Created by Maka to be her companion, but wa
s cast into the waters and is the Goddess of the Waters
and Ancestress of all evil beings.
One who kills.
Those who live among the leaves or trees.

Lakȟótiyapi – Lakota Language

~Asanpi ( ) milk.

~Can gleska wakan [the Sacred Hoop of the Race Track].
The Race Track or the Red Valley is the physical manifestation of the circle within which the sacred space of the Black Hills was created, and it is linked to a circle of constellations known by the same name, Ki Inyanka Ocanku [the Race Track] or Can gleska wakan [the Sacred Hoop].

~Hechinskayapi Paha ( ) Bighorn or Sheep Mountain, now Mount Coolidge (located in Custer State Park).

~Hanbleceyapi (root) Hanbloglagia (one who dreams) Vision Quest. Pi indicating ceremony or more than one, we (relativity).

~He Sapa, Paha Sapa, Ska Sapa (white black), Apaha Ska, (rise white) the BlackHills.

~Heyoka, the counter attacking power, to accompany with them on their journey.

~Hocoka yapi (The Center) was the ultimate sacred name, reflecting the Lakota belief that the Black Hills were the center of the universe.

~hukáka wóglake the old fables
~hukákiya, ̳the ancient ancestors
A long time ago hukáka wóglake the old fables‘, hukákiya, ̳the ancient ancestors‘, the people lived in the earth long ago, guided by rock spirits. They had no sight, as it was completely dark.

~Ikce [common Lakota people]

~Inyan (STONE or rock) knows all things of the earth...S/He can tell where the herds of buffalo are. They have gone back into the earth.

[ (spelling unsure, sounds are correct)
Kawichia (Kawhech iah) formed clouds from within/flight of heaven ,
Kawichi aye (ka whecheee ay) clouds sail away. I send my love across the fields for all to praise. And when we ride the stars divine, let us be together this time.
kaci topewa pi (Katchee Tope wha) “the Clouds that Dance Ceremony”
Ghost Walk (New Moon Dance) The ghost walk or ghost dance, the holy spirit within that soars, free as a bird in song and dance. Holy is the sound, praise for the world to help heal all the world to get along.
~maȟpíya = cloud ]

~Ki Inyanka Ocanku [the Race Track].

~Maghpia Oyate, the Cloud People.

~Maka [earth]

~Maka Mahe Oyate ( ) Underground nation.

~Maka Can Opaya, Valley of the Council Oak.

~Makalhpaya ( ) a place where the earth has been compressed.

~Maya Oki Ti, [living in a cave]:  in earlier times the Lakotas dug a cave in a cliff or bank to bury their dead. He wrote that this kind of burial was called ― Maya ~Oki~Ti, [living in a cave]

~Nagi: The spirit that has never been in a man. The spirit that guides man but is not part of a man. Both good and bad.)  Nagi is a soul, a person's spirit/ghost.

~Ni or breath
Connection between winter, the North Wind, bison, caves, and breath, which is central to understanding the meaning of Wind Cave.
Importantly, in the Lakota scheme of things, there is a powerful synergistic connection between winter, the North Wind, bison, caves, and breath, which is central to understanding the meaning of Wind Cave. As explained by the Lakota spiritual leader, Pete Catches, Wind Cave is the location of one of the seven spiritual forces emerging at the time of creation and associated with ni, the breath of life. Wind Cave is a quintessential representation of this process because of its capacity to release ni or breath, a manifestation of Tate, the Wind‘s movement and a basic force in creation. Lakotas regard the north~south axis as analogous to the nadir and zenith, and they believe that after death, the wanagi (Wanagi~That is the spirit nagi that was once in a man. Nagi~The spirit that has never been in a man. The spirit that guides man but is not part of a man. Both good and bad.) travel along the Milky Way to the south, and when they arrive, they return to the north under the earth to be reborn. Lakotas think of the north as the place of ni [breath of life] and connect it directly to bison. Francis Densmore (1918:67~68) makes the connection between breath or wind~power, winter, and the
buffalo in her analysis of a line from the ...
―Song of the White Buffalo Maiden, which reads,
―Niya‟ tanin‟yan...with visible breath, mawa‟niye ...I am walking.
When it is cold during the winter, ―the breath of a herd of buffalo, rising in the frosty air, could be plainly seen.

~Okslataya Wowahwala: a ceremony of peace and renewal was conducted, called Okslataya Wowahwala [Peace at Bare Spot, the prairies]

~Opaha TaI, Mountain at the Center Where He Comes, and welcome the thunders back for another season of renewal.

~Ozuyeya Ig‟lamna” or  Legends of the Counter Attacking Journeys. The Ozuyeya Iglama became the principle task of the Ikce ~ Some of the travelers would return home, new ones would join the journey. At times, a few grew tired of traveling and remained in the lands they liked. At other times, some of the people from nations that were visited, would join the Ikce (Black Hills Steering Committee).

~Paha: hill, curve, rise.

~Paha Sapa (hill black), the Black Hills are very holy. All the Black Hills is like a temple to us. There are certain places in the Black Hills like Wind Cave and Mahto Tipi which the non~Indian identifies as the Devil‘s Tower, and others that are emergence sites for some of our people.

~Pipestone quarry. The entrance to the sacred Pipestone quarry was delineated by trees painted with a red stripe; this communicated that all must wait on the periphery before being invited into the quarry.

~Pte He Gi [Grey Buffalo Horn], where the annual Sun Dance was held when the sun entered the constellation Mato Tipila. This site is identified with a Falling Star story too, and the origin place of the Lakotas‘ sacred pipe.

~Pte (buffalo cow).

~Pte He Sapa [Black Buffalo Horn]: Collected stones at Inyan Kaga, which carries the sacred name Pte He Sapa [Black Buffalo Horn], for use in the ceremonial sweatlodge at the Sun Dance.

~Pte Oyate, the Buffalo People.

~Pte Pute Ya [Buffalo‘s Nose]
Bear Butte:  After the Sun Dance, people went to Bear Butte, which holds the sacred name Pte Pute Ya [Buffalo‘s Nose], where important national councils were held. This site also goes by the proper name Sinte O Canku Paha Wakan [Sacred Mountain on the Road Along the Trail], which refers to the idea that the Black Hills is a south facing buffalo.

~Pte tah ti yo pa (gateway of the buffaloes).
Pte Tali Yapa (Buffalo Gap) alternatively ....
Pte Ta Tiyopa (Doorway of the Bison Cow), Pte Tetiopa (doorway of the buffalo).
Tatanka Tiyope (Doorway of the Bison Bull).
He Okiksahe [The Ridge with a Cut or Wedge], and the land inside it is called Tatanka makalhpaya [The Stomping Grounds of the Bison Bull].
Tatanka makalhpaya [The Stomping Grounds of the Bison Bull].

Buffalo Gap is a passageway connected to the bison‘s place of origin is not only old but also consistent over time.

The Kiowa also envisioned the Black Hills and their surroundings in the image of a buffalo‘s internal organs. According to Harrington (1939:168), they had four names for landforms in the region, which represented the parts of a buffalo, which sacrificed itself for seven children fleeing a mad bear. As they ran away from the bear, the children threw its parts (Each of these organs became landforms of similar appearance.) to the bear (grandfather 15, tunksila, white star), including the
1) Sadlka’e k’oup [leaftripe],
2) ‘Aakya’e [honeycomb tripe],
3) Biimsadl [hairlike part of the tripe], 
4) tsoudlpakhae [ brain sack skin].

~R_e Sapa (Black Ridges), or, more commonly, Paha Sapa (Black Hills),  If a more proper term of special respect were alled for, the hills would be referred to as O Onakinzin (Sheltering Place), perhaps in reference to the protection the forested areas provided Lakota winter camps.

~ Sapa: black, also can mean "defile" or impurities which are hidden.

~Ska (white)

~Sinte O Canku Paha Wakan [Sacred Mountain on the Road Along the Trail]

~Tansun ~ Lakota used fixed spatial delineations, the smallest measuring approximately .8 inches and the largest approximately seven miles. This measurement, called a tansun, was designated using a scale symbol, indicating both the distances between markers and whether the route described was by water or land. Distance was calculated based on the length(s) of the vertical marks; however, other markings would have to accompany this particular tansun scale for the set of glyphs to successfully denote a particular site or intersection.

~Tapa Wanka Yap [Throwing the Ball Ceremony]
In this ceremony, Black Elk (in Brown 1971:133) explains that the young woman who throws the ball stands at the center and on the sacred path, which extends from the south, the direction people face when praying, to the north, ―where the giant lives. At this spot she is able to see the sacred tree and the generations to come. The ball she holds in her hand symbolizes the universe, and when she throws it to the people in each of the four directions, she is recreating the cosmic order established by Tate and his sons, a structure also revealed in the movements and lifecycle of the bison.

~Tatamani  ( ) womb.

~Tatanka (bison bull).

~Tatanka kagapi [Buffalo Makers or Imitators].
   ~Cheyennes‘ Isiwunhetániu [Buffalo Men].

~Tate, the Wind.

~Tayamni Cankaku constellation: Prairies on the central Limestone Plateau to conduct additional rituals. This area is associated with the three stars of the
    ~~Tayamni Cankaku constellation, each of which is linked to a different prairie.
    ~~Keyapiya (Turtle or Gillette),
    ~~Tayamni (Bear or Slate), and Pe Sla (Bare Place or Reynolds).

~Tiyospaye, or family group.

~Tokahe (the first). Tokahe (The First) and the emergence of the Pte Oyate (Buffalo People) or humans from the underworld.

~Ton (tun) It's spiritual essence.
"Tun" For the Plains Indian this ability to embody, or inspirit in matter the “great mysterious” results in something more than having a “strictly symbolic encounter.” It results in being able to successfully call it to “show itself physically” and to “produce actions in the material world.” For the Plains Indians energy has a visible and invisible form. The  potential to transform visible energy into invisible energy and the reverse, is called tun. The tun of every invisible aspect is its visible aspect. (Powers, p. 52)

~To Win [Blue Woman].

~Tunkan‟sila, [Grandfather] or Taku Skanskan, who is associated with the highest sky spaces and the Four Winds and the different birds and insects that serve as their principal messengers.

~Wakanka ( ) Mysterious old women. In Lakota traditions, she is one of the four most powerful Tobtob, and caves are often the sites where encounters with her or other mysterious old women, such as Wakanka, take place.

~Wakan Waste, the cosmic powers of good.

~Wakan Tanka: Great Spirit Father 17. Those that made everything. The unknowable. Above all other Wakanpi (All things above mankind. They have power over everything on earth.).

~Wakan Wanantu: Superior Wakan.

~Wakanpi: All things above mankind. They have power over everything on earth.

~Wakinyan: Thunderbird created by Inyan to be his active associate.

~Wakpekute: Shooters in the leaves or forest people.

~Wamaka nagi: Animal spirit.

~Wamaka Og_naka I_caηte (The Heart of Everything That Is) was a very formal and proper name, denoting great spirituality.

~Wamakaskan Oki Inyanke, Running Path of the Animals, the red formation circling the Black Hills.

~Wanagi (Wanagi~That is the spirit nagi that was once in a man. The manes of the wanagi pass by his tipi when they travel to the spirit world. He talks with them and they tell him what they know. If they are worthy he permits them to pass on. The trail of the tipi of Woziya is high in the sky, and he keeps it covered with ice so that it is hard to travel. When one dies, his shadow must rest and so people must feed it.  Beyond the home of Woziya it is never cold and never hot.

~Wanagi, wanáǧi : That is the spirit nagi that was once in a man. Wanagi is a spirit, ghost, soul separated from the body (unknown people's ghosts)

~Wanagi makoce: The spirit world.

~Wanagi yuhapi keeping of the soul (a ceremony).

~Wanbli: The Eagle.

~Wani: The four Winds. The weather.

~Wankanla: Wakan-ish. Wakan like. The la ending in Lakota is like the ending ish in English. Making adjectives of nouns. Meaning “of the nature of” or “diminutive of”).

~Wa shun Wakan (wah-shoen wha-kahn) Sacred Wind Cave; or Washun Niya.

~Wasica wakan: Refers to white citizens of the United States. Wasica does not refer to the color of their skin, but rather to “those we do not understand”. (Because he could do marvelous things like Wakan could do).

~Wasicun: Ceremonial bag of the Lakota with mythical potency.

~Wasna: Pemmican, a mixture of dried meat and fruits.

~Waziya ( ) old man. is the Grandfather of the Four Winds. The Lakotas also link caves to a male spiritual presence. The home of Waziya or Wazi (Tunksila, Grandfather), the immortal and gigantic old man, is located at the edge of the earth in a cave, which has icicles for poles and snow as its covering. In some Lakota texts, it is Waziya, the Old Man, who determines whether people go on to the land of the dead or get sent to the underworld. Waziya: Of the north

~Waziyata: North Wind.
North Wind, Waziyata, epitomizes winter, waniyetu, ―the time and place of breath. The eldest, the North Wind, Waziyata, is named after his grandfather whose home he shares. He is widely associated in Lakota traditions with the emergence, movement, and disappearance of bison.

~Wi: The Sun. The chief of the gods.

~Wicahpi yuha mani, or “The People Who Walk With the Stars”, were entrusted with understanding and interpreting (iyeshka) the information imparted by the heavens.

~Wica nagi: The spirit of a man.

~Wicasa wakan: Wakan (holy) man or shaman.

~Wicincala sakowin: constellation Pleiades and the story of the seven little girls.

~Winyan Nupapika ( ) Double Woman.

~Wiwanyan wacipi (whee-whan-yahn wha-sih-pee) Sun Dance.

~Wohpe [Meteor], Wohpe Daughter of Skan, the Mediator.
Patron of harmony, beauty and pleasure. More beautiful than any other, who appears as a central figure in the stories of the Four Winds, who reappears as the Pte San Winyan, the White Buffalo Calf Woman, and who is considered one of the Lakotas‘ primary spiritual benefactors through her gift of the sacred pipe. Another figure is the orphan boy, who appears among the Lakota as
~Wicahpi Hinhpaya [Falling Star], and who, like
~Inyan Hoksila [Stone Boy],
~Cetan Maza [Iron Hawk], or
~Weota Hoksila [Blood Clot Boy], has miraculous origins.

~Wo nagi: The spirit of food.

~Woniya: The life, or breath of life or wanagi when it is in a man.

~Yanpa East Wind

~Yate North Wind

~Yum The Whirlwind. The god of chance, games and love.

Chapter Fourteen
Probably no area speaks to the controversy over the sacredness of the Black Hills better than Wind Cave and its environs, which include the Race Track, the Buffalo Gap, and the Hot Springs. The identification of Wind Cave as a sacred site appears to be recent, at least from the vantage point of published sources, even though this is not the sense one gets from tribal elders White Bull, Left Hand Bear, Charlie Eagle Louse, Wounded Horse, Stella Swift Bird, Jake Herman,
Edgar Red Cloud, Joseph Black Elk, and James LaPointe, who spoke or wrote about it from the 1930s to the 1970s. From their perspective, the stories they shared were part of the traditions of their ancestors, some extending back many generations. Still, we were unable to uncover any narratives about the cave‘s spiritual significance published before 1951, although there are un~published documents from 1937 that give evidence of the cave‘s sacredness to the Lakotas and one article (Freeland 1938b) that alludes to its spiritual importance. Also, a couple of articles (Bohi 1962; Pilcher 1964) document some of the reverential ways the Lakotas approached the cave in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the same time period, a number of references can be found on the sacred nature of the cavern formations underneath the Black Hills and also the general spiritual meanings assigned to caves in Lakota and Cheyenne traditions.

(Bushotter in Dorsey, J. 1894:476~477; Walker 1917:82; Sage in Haflen and Haflen 1956:268~272; Parkman in Feltskog 1969:156~157; Boller 1972:327; Knappen in Krause and Olson 1974:
19; Curtis in Krause and Olson 1974:129, 150; Burrows in Krause and Olson 1974:192; Little Wound in Walker 1980:67, 124; Short Bull in Walker 1980:144).

Knowledge about the Race Track, the Buffalo Gap, and the Hot Springs is associated with a long written legacy that stretches back to the late nineteenth century when they were mentioned in the writings of white settle rs, government agents, and ethnographers. One Lakota, Amos Bad Heart Bull (and Blish 1967:89), marked them on a map of the Black Hills that he drew at the end of the nineteenth century. All of these sites are conceptually connected to Wind Cave and, in so me cases, they are a part of the same story. Indeed, one might argue that the cave‘s position in Lakota cosmology cannot be adequately understood without reference to these other sites.

Therefore, the purpose of this section is to discuss the broader basis and unity of the spiritual ideas that are attached to this area of the Black Hills and, more specifically, to describe their relation to the various sacred stories associated with Wind Cave.

Much of the discussion that follows focuses on Lakota traditions because these are the best documented in published sources, but it also includes reference to the Cheyennes who hold a strong spiritual connection to the area as well. Other tribal nations known to have occupied and traveled this area, particularly the Arapahos, Arikaras, Kiowas, Poncas, and Plains Apaches are considered here only indirectly. Although these tribal nations may have some sort of religious attachment to this area, it has not been recorded in any of the published or unpublished materials reviewed for this report.

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The region where Wind Cave National Park is located speaks very powerfully to four fundamental Lakota cultural precepts about the workings of the cosmos. Each of these precepts is distinct yet integrally related, and taken together, they form the foundation of much Lakota intellectual and religious thought. The first precept has to do with the origin and regeneration of life, as it is understood metaphorically in the image of the bison, an animal on whose existence the Lakotas and other tribal nations of the region depended for their livelihood and sense of identity.

The second one is related to understandings of how the universe is given form and motion through the actions of the Four Winds, and how, in particular, the North Wind, Waziyata, is linked to regeneration and the breath of life. The third covers basic knowledge about how the celestial, earthly, and subterranean planes of the universe are interconnected, as revealed not only in the myth cycles of orphan boys, variously named Falling Star, Stone Boy, Blood Clot, and
Ironhawk, but also in stories about nations of diminutive or gigantic stature who co~occupy spaces in the cosmos. The final has to do with the circular order of the universe and its expression in the topography of the Black Hills, in the conduct of religious ceremonies, and in the structure of sacred texts, most notably, the story of the Great Race.

A. The Origin and Home of the Bison
Every human culture has centralizing metaphors that serve as the foundation upon which they build their most fundamental ontological notions about what is reality, what it means to exist, and what are the origins of life. Centralizing metaphors act as condensation points around which manifold ideas get imagined, expressed, and acted upon. They are synergistic, weaving and integrating a common concept through different areas of experience. They not only underscore a culture‘s dominant values but also help realize its greatest hopes and highest aspirations.

In Lakota (and also in Arapaho and Cheyenne) traditions, the bison, the winds, the earth, and the circle all serve as centralizing metaphors or holy symbols which can be used to represent an aspect of the other and which, in turn, speak to the workings of the universe (Schlesier 1987:4~12; Moore, J. 1996:204~212; New Holy 1997:114~118; Anderson, J. 2000, 2001).

Without question, the buffalo is a dominant and centralizing metaphor in Lakota philosophy. Its appearance is ubiquitous in their sacred stories of creation and renewal. Its spiritual essence, ton (tun), is called up in nearly every significant ceremonial event, and its presence is imagined over many landscapes that make up the Lakotas‘ historic territorial range. The Black Hills is one of the geographic locations where this imagery stands out because they have long been understood as the birthplace and home of the buffalo. Like Bear Butte, as described by Forbes~Boyte (1996:13), the Black Hills constitute a hierophany: they stand as the physical manifestation of the sacred that, in this particular space, is envisioned in the symbolic image of a buffalo. The Buffalo Gap, one of the gateways through which the bison historically left their home in the spring with newborn calves and returned in winter, is the opening to the birth canal. Today, its neighboring sites, Wind Cave and Hot Springs, are imagined as the womb (tatamani) and milk (asanpi) of the buffalo, respectively
(Goodman 1992:61). Harney Peak and Pe Sla at the center of the Hills constitute the heart of the buffalo (Goodman 1992:12; New Holy 1997:154). Outlier sites in the northern reaches of the Hills, Bear Butte, Bear Lodge Butte, and Inyan Kara, comprise the buffalo‘s head (Goodman 1992:13). Indeed, the entire Hills stand metaphorically for the body of the buffalo, which in some representations is envisioned as Pte (buffalo cow) and in others as Tatanka (bison bull).

Some of this figurative imagining has appeared only recently in the published literature, but the

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general idea of the Black Hills as having an animate presence appears much earlier in Standing Bear‘s writings (1978:43~45) and in Black Elk‘s words (DeMallie 1984:296, 310). It is an idea that is also consistent with Cheyenne and Kiowa notions of a spiritual bison figure that guards the animals in the cavern formations underneath the Black Hills (Mooney 1979:239; Schlesier 1987: 82, 102~104).

1 The notion that the Buffalo Gap is a passageway connected to the bison‘s place of origin is not only old but also consistent over time. In Lakota, this site is called Pte Tali Yapa (Bad Heart Bull and Blish 1967:280) or alternatively, Pte Ta Tiyopa [Doorway of the Bison Cow]
and Tatanka Tiyope [Doorway of the Bison Bull] (Black Elk, C. 1986a:210). It is also known as He Okiksahe [The Ridge with a Cut or Wedge], and the land inside it is called Tatanka makalhpaya [The Stomping Grounds of the Bison Bull]

2 (Little Cloud in Stars, Iron Shell and Buechel 1978:95; Lone Wolf in Stars, Iron Shell and Buechel 1978:242). In 1915, Little Cloud (in Stars,
Iron Shell and Buechel 1978:95~97) told Father Eugene Buechel a story of a spiritual nature associated with the Buffalo Gap. It is translated from the Lakota as follows: In this way they made buffalo medicine. They called the place the ― stomping grounds of the
buffalo. "There was a village at the Buffalo Gap and they were rich in dried beef. Now, one day a man there stated, ― On this day, the [buffalo will make something?] and from the tipi in the middle of this camp two horns will come straight out of it, so go to the tipi quickly, before anything happens."

Now, a man saw a buffalo head with horns coming along the outside of the tent circle, snorting repeatedly for quite a ways, so before anything else happened, he went to where the people were gathered inside the tent circle. He had a rifle and came up to them on horseback showed them how to load the small leaden bullets in the rifle. Then he trotted over to the door of the tipi, and they gave him a branch in return and set it in the ground like a pole. Now the buffalo came and began rubbing against the pole,

3 during which time a man on a horse came out of the right side of his body as one being born. Suddenly the buffalo fell and lay face down as though asleep. Then, he stood and began to stagger as he was bleeding from the nose and mouth

4 and then grunted and ran away. Shortly, he returned to where the pole was and began rubbing against it again. Then a yellow haired man came out of the left side of his body and a gain the buffalo fell down and was bleeding badly from the nose and mouth.

He staggered to stand and went into the tipi. The people raised the walls of the tipi so they could see the back part of it. The buffalo was laying face downward so they set a big wood bowl filled with water in front of him. He began to drink and drink until he emptied it. They

1 The Kiowa also envisioned the Black Hills and their surroundings in the image of a buffalo‘s internal organs. According to Harrington (1939:168), they had four names for landforms in the region, which represented the parts of a buffalo, which sacrificed itself for seven children fleeing a mad bear. As they ran away from the bear, the children threw its parts to the bear, including the 1) Sadlka’e k’oup
[leaftripe], 2) ‘Aakya’e [honeycomb tripe], 3) Biimsadl [hairlike part of the tripe], and 4) tsoudlpakhae [ brain sack skin]. Each of these organs became landforms of similar appearance. The particular landforms to which they refer, however, remain unknown.

2 The word, ― makalhpaya” refers to a place where the earth has been compressed. Again, credit for the translation of this word and He Okiksahe is given to Yvonne Kelly with the assistance of Jerry Dearly.

3 There are several significant images in this story, one of which is the allusion to the Sun Dance center pole and its power of rejuvenation. It may also allude to a common habit of bison to rub their bodies against trees and poles.

4 Bison are associated with the color red, in part because of the red mucus that exudes from a cow‘s nose after she gives birth and that she licks on her newly born calf. This substance is symbolically important to the Lakotas, and Black Elk (in Brown 1971:134~135) specifically mentioned it in reference to the visionary origins of the Throwing the Ball Ceremony.

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filled it again and again he emptied it. Then he stood, grunted, walked in a circle in the tipi, came back to the bowl, shook his shoulders and fell in front of it. Then the first man took the bowl and the people stood up and continued to stand around the buffalo. Then they saw two flattened bullets, one small and one large. Then the man said,
―Look, the first one went into the throat and the other one went into the back.‖

And then, there was a hole in the middle of this bone and on account of the amount of blood coming out of it, this last bullet must be the one that did him in.‖

The wounds were still freshly bleeding and then the man said, ―As I stand here, they are looking well! The wounds are closing up.‖

Now the buffalo snorted and ate a medicine that was lying by his hoof, then rolled around before standing up. Then the people all saw
something that was very holy. In the doorway of the tipi stood a man just like you.

5 The meaning of this narrative, cloaked in the imagery of wounds and warfare, is actually a story about the continuity of life as an ongoing exchange between death and birth. The juxtaposition of death and birth is revealed in the close connection between the buffalo‘s life ~
threatening injury, as symbolized in the blood flowing from its nose and mouth, and its ability to heal itself, allowing for its ultimate transformation into human form. Humanity and the bison are related as one because human materialization is embodied literally in the spiritual presence and the organic essence, the blood, of the bison. Universally, blood is a sign that stands for the principal of life in death. The death of one material form, the buffalo, gives rise to the birth of another, humans, but the two are not discrete because they are conjoined in the same life ~perpetuating process. It is this immortal, perpetual cycle (motion) of life that mysteriously revealed itself in the story that took place at the Buffalo Gap, a canyon widely reputed to metaphorically stand for the birth canal.

Although nearby Wind Cave does not appear in Little Cloud‘s story, its connection to this metaphysical event becomes obvious in other texts that link the two places together. As LaPointe writes (1976:85): Lakota legends say, that at one time, there was no such gap there. But, through the ages, as countless herds of hungry and thirsty animals came out of the Wind Cave, they would make a wild dash eastward to get to the cool waters and lush grasses. Legends say, that after countless years the sharp hooves of the stampeding herds have cut down a high ridge into a narrow gorge. Thus it has become known as the Pte Tetiopa (doorway of the buffalo). There is also a more recent source that confirms the connection of the Buffalo Gap to Wind Cave.
In their 1987 book Black Hills: Sacred Hills published by Tipi Press of St. Joseph‘s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota, Tom Charging Eagle and Ron Zeilinger (n.p) connected the Buffalo Gap to Wind Cave when they wrote: In another part of the hills, to the South, is a place called ̳Wind Cave.‘ It is an opening large enough for a man to enter the earth below. On certain stormy days, this hole in the earth makes a breathing sound. We have a legend that from here [Wind Cave] the buffalo came. It is said that they came forth from this cave no larger than ants, but grew to full size in a very short time.

5 Story translated by Yvonne Kelly with the assistance of Jerry Dearly. This translation gives a different sense of this story than the one done by Paul Manhart. Manhart‘s efforts to translate Buechel‘s texts are sometimes awkward and at times misleading.

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They came forth in great numbers running down the valley to the
plains beyond, making a path through the hills as they went. In this way, they created the place known as the ̳Buffalo Gap.‘ ‖

That the Buffalo Gap and other passageways through the Hogback
6 were the exits through which animals moved after they were newly born to reach their grassland feeding grounds during the spring and the entrances through which they traveled to winter at locations along the Race Track is an old idea. As noted in previous chapters, early nineteenth ~ century white observers, such as Antoine Pierre Tabeau and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, noted these annual movements. More recently, Linea Sundstrom (1990:322~325) suggests in her writings on rock art that these gateways probably represented transitional spaces, which metaphorically call forth images of fertility and birth, and which, in the process, reveal a possible connection to ritual observances associated with the life cycle.

Figure 25. The Black Hills the Body of the Bison

6 Gilbert Walking Bull (1980:25) uses the term ― Pte tah ti yo pa
(gateway of the buffalos) to refer to the canyon at Deadwood, South Dakota.

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Modern Lakotas clearly attach importance to the Buffalo Gap in their ceremonial observances. Historically, the movement of bison through this gap in the spring marked the beginning of a major ritual cycle (Looking Horse in Parlow 1983a: 42~43; Goodman 1992:7). It signaled the time when Lakotas started to enter the Hills to conduct ceremonies near Harney Peak and at Pe Sla (Black Elk, C. 1992a:50). According to Arvol Looking Horse (in Parlow 1983a:42), the Lakotas entered the Black Hills at the Buffalo Gap en route to Harney Peak.  Even though bison no longer pass through this gateway, the arrival of the vernal equinox is still celebrated with a special pipe ceremony that, according to one of the tribal cultural preservation officers with
whom we spoke, is held at locations near the Buffalo Gap (Albers & Kittelson 2002).

In the past, this area was probably associated with the spiritual performances of the Tatanka kagapi [Buffalo Makers or Imitators] described earlier (Lone Wolf in Stars, Iron Shell and Buechel 1978:242~245), and it would not be surprising to learn that it had some association with certain kinds of sweatlodge performances connected to the Cheyennes‘ Isiwunhetániu [Buffalo
Men] (Grinnell 1914; Anderson 1956). The significance of the Buffalo Gap is something the Lakotas share with the Cheyennes, suggesting that its importance extends back to the documented presence of both the Cheyennes and Suhtaios in this area by the mid~eighteenth century.

According to Wesley Whiteman who was in his eighties when he shared his knowledge of Cheyenne traditions with Warren Schwartz (1988:72), the Buffalo Gap is the sacred origin place of the Sun Dance, the site where the buffalo first performed this dance after the Great Race and taught its teachings and performance to humans. This link is also found in other sources on the Cheyennes (Stands in Timber and Liberty 1967:23; Powell 1969:2:472~478). The Cheyenne
women‘s quilling society is tied to this location as well because the buffalo wife‘s husband, who is the central character in certain Race Track stories, founded it.

Also consistent over time is the idea that the buffalo‘s place of origin is a cave, a hole (in Lakota this word can be used as a synonym for cave), a spring, or other subterranean location (Buechel 1970:331, 551; Moore, J. 1996:211, see also, Chapter Twelve for more details).
Some of the earliest recorded stories of this association among the Lakotas come from tribal elders who worked with James Walker at the end of the nineteenth century. Indeed, Walker recorded several
stories 7 that describe a link between bison and caves. Left Heron,
Hokacatka or Makula, whose mother was a member of the Oglala Gopher Band and whose father was a Minneconjou (Walker
1980:103 n1), told Walker one of these (Left Heron in Walker 1917:183
~190, 1980:109~118). 8 In this story a man marries a woman who is a buffalo. As Left Heron (in Walker 1983:113) puts it, ―They traveled together and came to mountains where there was a cave. They went down through the cave and came to the regions under the world. There they saw a camp with many people. "These were the Pte Oyate, the Buffalo People, which the man freed from their oppressive rulers.
The Buffalo People were very happy about this, and they offered to make the man their head chief. He agreed, but said he hunted for his family on the earth, and they needed a way to have food if he was not there to provide for them. The buffalo said they would go to the man‘s family

7 The version published in Elaine Jahner‘s edited collection (Walker 1983) of James Walker‘s manuscripts of Lakota myths is closer
to the original version than the one Walker translated and edited for publication in 1917. Many important geographic references, including the buffalo living inside of a cave in the mountains, are absent in the 1917version.

8 Left Heron narrated a number of different versions of this story to James Walker and Ella Deloria. All of the versions share a common narrative structure and similar themes, including references to the old man, Waziya, and the old woman, Wakanka, and the tension between the Buffalo Wife and the Corn Wife. Some scholars (Rice 1994) interpret the story in terms of the light it sheds on the dynamics of Lakota kinship. This is certainly one important way to approach it. However, embedded in this story and the tensions between the Corn Wife and the Buffalo Wife is a historical story about migrations and the role that marriages between nations play in these movements (see Chapter Fifteen). The stories, although sharing a common thematic structure, are played out in varied ways and lead to different
sorts of ceremonial outcomes, including the origin of the Sun Dance,
Wiwanyan wacipi.

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and offer themselves as food. According to Left Heron (in Walker 1983:117), this was how the buffalo came to the Lakota people
In the years Left Heron 9 was sharing different versions of the Buffalo wife story with James Walker and Ella Deloria (1978:86~89; in Rice 1994:67~126), Father Eugene Buechel recorded a variant of the story from Asa Bad Yellow Hair (in Little Cloud in Stars, Ir on Shell and Buechel 1978:66~68 [also in Buechel and Manhart 1998:91~96]). In Asa Bad Yellow Hair‘s version, recorded in 1915, the hero discovers that his mother~in~law lives in a cave in the hills where she has taken many men captive and killed them. 10 The hero slays his mother~in~-
law and brings the men back to life. This particular version is very similar to a Cheyenne Sweet Medicine story that takes place at a cave in the southern Black Hills (Schlesier 1987:79).

What is important to emphasize about these stories is that the cave in question is located in the mountains or hills, which would have meant the Black Hills to most Lakotas of Left Heron and Yellow Hair‘s generation. There are many caves in the Hills, so on what grounds, other than what they learned from prior generations, might storytellers Jake Herman, Joseph Black Elk, and James LaPointe connect a female bison theme to Wind Cave? One answer is its proximity to the
Buffalo Gap. Of all the caves in the region, which, incidentally, are understood by the Lakotas to be interconnected, Wind Cave is not only the most unusual, but it is one that can be reached by a direct route of travel along Beaver Creek. Indeed, as pointed out in Chapter Six, early settlers in the region knew about an old Indian trail that followed the Buffalo Gap and passed near Wind Cave (Tallent 1899:647).

Jake Herman related two slightly different and much abridged
versions of the story that Left Heron told Walker. One appears in
Ehanni Ohunkanan: A Curriculum Resource Unit (in One Feather 1972:149) as follows:

The wind cave, where Wind Cave National Park is located, was a sacred cave where the buffalo lady dwelt. At first the Sioux feared the cave because they thought a giant lived in it. They thought that the wind, which blew in and out of the mouth of the cave was caused by a
giant breathing. This giant invoked the providence of the Great Spirit to give him knowledge of the mysterious hidden powers of Mother Nature that lurked in the cave the Indians feared.

One day, a medicine man stood at the mouth of the cave pondering, and suddenly, a vision appeared to him. A young Indian maiden told him she was the immortal buffalo lady from below the earth.

The buffalo lady told the medicine man to tell his people that the cave was one of the sacred places of Paha Sapa. She said, ―Tell your people to come to this cave and offer gifts and tokens by dropping them into the sacred cave. By your offerings the Great Spirit will provide your temporal wants by providing great herds of buffalo for your livelihood.

9  In his Iron Hawk cycle, Left Heron (in Beckwith 1930:379~390; in Deloria, E. 1978) also includes an episode where the hero marries a bison woman and confronts his cannibalistic in~laws and their stone associates, including a Little Man.

10 In 1915, Little Cloud and Lone Wolf also told Ivan Stars other narratives that fit the thematic structure of the Buffalo Wife genre of stories (in Stars, Iron Shell and Buechel 1978:90~93; 186~189; in Buechel and Manhart 1998:136~142:322~330).

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537 page
In an undated manuscript held at the Wind Cave National Park Library, probably written in the 1960s, Herman (n.d.: Wind Cave National Park) tells the same story but in a slightly different manner. In an undated manuscript held at the Wind Cave National Park Library, probably written in the 1960s, Herman (n.d.: Wind Cave National Park) tells the same story but in a slightly different manner:

A medicine man of the Sioux tribe discovered the Wind Cave or Washun Wakan. As he stood near the entrance of the cave a strong strange whistling sound came out of the cave by the strong current of wind that blew alternately from the mouth of the cave. He thought a
giant lived in the cave and it was caused from his breathing. He feared he would be sucked into the cave and fled. At first the Sioux people were afraid to go near this cave. One day a handsome brave warrior was sent to the cave to find out if the giant still occupied the cave. As he came near the cave a beautiful lady appeared out of the cave and told him that she was the buffalo lady who possessed the mysterious power from below the earth and that she would provide for the Sioux people with game if they would dedicate this cave and offer tokens to
the Great Spirit. Herds of buffalo would come out of the cave and migrate through Buffalo Gap into the Great Plains. This is a legend of the Wind Cave as told to me by Sioux Indians.

Herman‘s stories are noteworthy because they combine two different Lakota traditions about caves, one associated with a giant and the other a female bison figure (see Chapter Twelve).

The association of the Black Hills with a subterranean giant is an old idea recorded in the writings of several non~Indian observers in the last half of the nineteenth century (Denig in Ewers 1961:6; Boller 1972:327; Curtis in Krause and Olson 1974:129, 150). Herman suggests that the connection of Wind Cave to a giant is an older idea that no longer held currency among the Lakotas in the 1960s. This notion may well have been associated with the strong ties between the bison and Waziya, the Old Man, and/or his grandson, Waziyata,
the North Wind, both of whom are commonly depicted as giant figures. It certainly corresponds with something James Owen
Dorsey (1894: 468) alluded to when he commented: ―They used to pray to him, but when they found that he did not heed them they desisted. James Walker (1917:91) also wrote about this too.

The Buffalo People are those who dwell in the regions under the world and are the people of the Sun. Waziya was their chief, but when he was deposed they chose the Buffalo God to be their chief and He is so.

Although the significance of Waziya and his control over the bison may have been deemphasized, it is clear from material presented elsewhere (see Chapter Twelve) that the close connection between the two never actually disappeared from Lakota stories and liturgical texts.

In the last half of the twentieth century, the association of Wind Cave with a female bison figure appeared in other stories as well. In 1973, Henry Black Elk (in Theisz 1975:16 ~ 18) told a story very similar to Herman‘s. In his narrative, a large Lakota encampment, located at the edge of the Black Hills, is facing hunger. The leader of the camp instructs two young men to go out and look for food. They travel for many days and arrive at a hill where, as Black Elk continues the story:

The two warriors stopped dead in their tracks as they got on top of the hill and not far away there was a howling sound, a sound that would scare anybody. As they went closer it was a huge cave, and from this very cave this sound came. It was a howling wind. So the two warriors approached the cave and they sat by the cave constantly hearing that sound that came out of the mouth of the cave. And the two warriors were so tired they fell asleep. Then during the night they awoke by a noise. So as they opened their eyes. There stood a beautiful Buffalo Maiden. She had on the most beautiful buckskin dress decorated in the best ornaments that you could see. And she said to the two  warriors, "You must go back to your
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people, to your encampment. Tell your chief and your medicine man to get some tokens and you will proceed back to this very cave with the tokens.‘

The young men returned to their camp and told of their encounter. Tokens were collected for a gift, which the two young men and a medicine man brought back to the cave in the company of twenty warriors. When the medicine man approached the cave:

The beautiful Buffalo Maiden appeared again in her white buckskin regalia. And when the medicine man gave the token to the beautiful Buffalo Maiden she said, "Your people will not hunger no more!" In that instant she disappeared into this very cave with the token and that
weird sound that came from this cave suddenly ceased. And from this very cave a herd of buffaloes came out. So the warriors went and killed some of the buffaloes, but did not waste. They killed enough for the whole Sioux encampment to eat. And up to this day, this very cave is in Paha Sapa in the Black Hills. To me and to all of us it is known as Wind Cave.

Black Elk goes on to say that he learned this story from his grandfather, Nicholas, and his father, Ben, and that he wanted to pass it on to the children so that when they visit the cave they will know of the buffalo there. He also claims that this is a true story in the historic memory of the tribe and not a legend from the time of myth. Nonetheless, it is still a story that speaks of the kind of mysterious,
wakan experience that attaches sacred significance to the place where it happened.

Three years later, James LaPointe (1976:79~80) described the cave in some detail. As he wrote:

This place has been deep in the history of the original American for thousands of years before the advent of the white man. Like many other places in the Black Hills, this ̳hole that breathes cool air‘ was a landmark.

Lakota history says that medicine men of ancient times journeyed from far away lands to worship at Washun Niya, and to offer sacrifice. It was their belief that buffalo and other game animals came out of this cave, the animals being bred and supplied by mysterious beings that inhabited the underground regions.

Singers of holy songs came here to capture the soft, sighing sounds that exuded from this great cavity of the earth. Legends say these were the whispering and the singing of those people who occupy underground lands. The Indian made flutes to imitate the pensive overtones of this hissing hole. Its breath was like a fall breeze. So say the Lakota.

Clearly LaPointe implies that knowledge of this cave and its whereabouts was held by the Lakotas and other American Indians for many millennia. He suggests that its spiritual status drew people from great distances to pray and learn sacred songs. This is precisely the kind of sacred communication or dream speech denoted by the word
hanbloglagia (vision questing, awake dreaming) described in an earlier chapter. Some of the Lakotas we spoke with told us that today some people could still hear the voices of the spirits who dwell in Wind Cave (Albers and Kittelson 2002). LaPointe (1976:80~84) also tells a story in which a young man named Taopi Gli [Returns Home Wounded] is lured into the cave by a beautiful woman while he and a companion are hunting for deer. 11 When Taopi Gli disappears, his companion senses that he has been seduced

11 This story is actually an amalgamation of themes from several different traditional narratives. Not only does it contain elements of the ―Buffalo Wife‖ story recorded by James Walker and Ella Deloria, but it also incorporates aspects of narratives associated with the Blood ~ Clot Boy, Stone Boy, Iron Hawk, and Falling Star.

end of page 538

by the dreaded Winyan Nupapika [Double Woman] and races breathlessly back to their camp through a narrow canyon (quite possibly the Buffalo Gap) to alert others of Taopi Gli‘s fate. The elders decide to search for the ~mysterious hole‖ into which Taopi Gli has disappeared. After all the village‘s ropes are gathered and assembled into long cables, they travel to Wind Cave and volunteers are repelled into the cave only to find ~grotesque formations and eerie shadows. Finding no evidence of Taopi Gli, his family and friends gather together to grieve over him. A medicine man advises his grieving father to fast and cry for a vision in which he might learn of his son‘s fate. The father, a chief in his village, travels to Hechinskayapi Paha [Bighorn or Sheep Mountain], now Mount Coolidge (located in Custer State Park), where after four days and four nights, Falling Star appears to him and shows him through a series of dreamlike images that his son is alive and a member of the underground nation Maka Mahe Oyate and a ruler of these people. He also tells him that this marriage is a good omen. Since the underground nation are the ~keepers and breeders of all game animals, Taopi Gli‘s people on earth will never go hungry. In interpreting the story LaPointe writes:

For ages, according to Lakota legend, since the marriage of a surface man to a distinguished girl of the underground world, famines were unknown, because out of the mouth of the Wind Cave, never~ending hordes of buffalo and other game animals emerged as time went on. If its difficult to believe that large animals such as the buffalo are able to come out of such a small hole, legend explains that the animals came out like a string of tiny ants, but as they emerged and sucked in the invigorating surface air, in a very little time they expanded into their natural sizes. This indeed was true until the white man came, bringing along new conditions, disturbing ancient religious traditions, and burdening the natural world with entirely foreign ways of living (LaPointe 1976:84).

Here again, there is a strong connection between bison and other game animals with the subterranean world. Like Jake Herman and Henry Black Elk‘s narratives, LaPointe‘s version is noteworthy because of its obvious and very consistent links with Cheyenne stories of the Buffalo Gap and the Great Race as well as Left Heron‘s early narrative of the man who married a buffalo woman, entered a cave in the mountains, and visited the nest of a Thunderbird on a mountain peak.
The fact that this is not a story of human emergence makes it no less important from a spiritual standpoint. Its sacredness comes from its association with the replenishment of the bison and the other game animals the Lakotas depended upon for their survival. It is also important spiritually because of its links to stories in the Falling Star cycle that are related to other sacred sites in the region, and, as indicated momentarily, one of them might even be connected to the region of the Buffalo Gap and Wind Cave.

Stories of a marriage between a human man and a woman of the underworld, often personified as a buffalo, are found among tribes throughout the Great Plains (Walker 1983:104; Parks 1996:165). Many stories about human~bison relations, even among the Lakotas, do not speak of any marriage between the underground buffalo and a human; they simply refer to encounters between humans and bison in their subterranean homes (Bushotter in Dorsey, J. 1894:476 ~477; Judson
1913:53; Short Bull in Walker 1980:144). The story of a male figure, usually a hunter, coming upon the underground home of the bison is a fundamental theme in many Lakota stories. But there is another variation on this theme, and this is the one most commonly told today in relation to Wind Cave.

It is the story of Tokahe and the emergence of the Pte Oyate [Buffalo People] or humans from the underworld. The story was told by the Oglala intellectual Long Knife (George Sword) to James Walker as part of a larger genesis story, which begins with Inyan (rock or stone)
differentiating itself into earth and sky and then goes on to tell how all
the major figures in the

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long ways to go
a few Lakota words which apply to content

Ptehincalaskawin (White Buffalo Calf Woman) Sacred Teachings
Knews and Visions Circle with White Buffalo Calf Woman ➴➶➷➹➴➶➷➹➷➹➷➹➴➶➷➹➴➶➷➹➷➹➷➹

White Buffalo Calf Woman (Ptehincalaskawin) From Out of the Sacred Wind Cave (Washun Wakan or Washun Niya)
Knews and Visions Circle with White Buffalo Calf Woman ➴➶➷➹➴➶➷➹➷➹➷➹

Read more about White Buffalo Calf Woman and "extended family" here:
Lakota Beliefs: Tatanka Oyate, the buffalo nation. Tiospaye, the extended family. Mother Earth (unci maka). “Mitakuye Oyasin,” a prayer for “all my relatives". Wolakota: to be in right relationship with all of creation. White Buffalo Calf Woman brings holy order.
Knews and Visions Circle with White Buffalo Calf Woman ➴➶➷➹➴➶➷➹➷➹➷➹
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