27 Mar 2018

5 Unique Lakota Cultural Values

The Lakota people consider the whole life as sacred. There are some values that they hold high and these are important for their ceremonies, beliefs, and teachings.

Elders shared these values with the youngsters in their oral tradition and passed them to the subsequent generations.

Wacantognaka or generosity is the first value taught which means contributing to the betterment of the people by sharing not only materialistic objects but also showing kindness and sympathy. At important occasions, Lakota families gather and keep their belongings for people in the community to take. An old Lakota saying goes on, “What you give you keep, what you keep you lose”. They also believed that giving was a means by which they kept the balance on earth.

Wotitakuye or kinship is another essential value that Lakota people cultivate living in the Tiyospaye or the extended family. Lakotan kinship includes belonging, living in harmony, relationships, and trust in others. Their measure of wealth is your family.  They considered relationships sacred; whether they were blood relations, marital relations or relations by adoption.

Wotitakuye was more important for the traditional Lakotan people in the early days where they were predominantly a hunting and warrior society. When men didn’t return for long, the kinship between the relatives is what helped the children, women, and elders survive.

The value of kinship was not only related to the humans but also nature and the entire universe. The disabled, the elderly, and the children were traditionally regarded as sacred and were expected to be well cared for. Also, they often prayed for the termination of environmental pollution, for the survival of endangered species, and for harmony in the universe as a whole.

Wacintaka or   is the third most important value a Lakota is expected to adopt. It means believing in yourself and facing the challenges that come your way with strength, confidence, and courage. It also includes accepting the problems you encounter and finding proper solutions that will benefit the majority. Self-control and restraint in front of adults was one of the early lessons taught to a Lakotan child. They were taught patience and perseverance to strengthen their minds to be courageous in the wake of a disaster.

Woksape or wisdom is the other important value that the Lakotas consider sacred. Wisdom and knowledge of the elderly were of utmost importance to the tribe at all times. The Lakotan wisdom had to do with understanding the hidden messages within patterns and processes of nature. It also includes understanding spiritual values and living according to them. They believed all the wisdom was provided by Wakan Tanka (The Great Spirit) and the earth.

Other core values that the Lakota consider sacred are Honesty, Humility, and Respect.

To the tribal way of life, honesty is of utmost importance. Without being true to each other they cannot survive as a group. Righteousness is taught for the Lakotan kids at a very young age.

The Lakota led a simple and humble life. They never bragged or exaggerated things but just lived according to nature. And nature too existed in perfect harmony with them.

Respect was another teaching that was central to the Lakotan way of life. They believed in respecting every form of life as the same energy ran through all forms from the water to the dragonfly.

The Lakotan society was closely knitted around these core values for centuries. Any outsider who came in search of spiritual or romantic escapism was not treated with a warm welcome as their way of life was much more complex and sewn together by the core values.

To this date, most of the above values are preserved despite the industrial and technological advancements that have taken place around them.

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