Arapaho Sun Dance

Arapaho Sun Dance

Mid-summer
The Sun Dance is a major religious event for many Native Americans, including the Cheyenne, Shoshone, and other Plains Indian tribes. The Arapaho people on the Wind River Reservation, outside Fort Washakie, Wyoming, hold the Sun Dance in mid-summer. To prepare for this sacred ceremony, they create a space for the dance to take place and particular objects are placed within this space, including a buffalo head, symbolizing strength, comfort, and abundance, and fresh sage, which represents the breath of life.
The dancers focus their gaze on the buffalo head as they move toward and away from it. The dance can have many purposes—to cure a loved one who is ill, to bring rain, to avoid death and other calamities, to ensure the tribe's prosperity, or to give thanks. It can last for up to three days.
See also Sioux Sun Dance; Southern Ute Tribal Sun Dance
CONTACTS:
Wind River Visitors Council
P.O. Box 925
Lander, WY 82520
800-645-6233 or 307-856-7566
www.wind-river.org
SOURCES:
CustHolWrld-1962, p. 102
EncyNatAmerRel-2001, p. 289