Monday, July 27, 2009

Not Quite Montana - Sun Dance

So, we were invited by our friend Tommy to attend a Sioux Sun Dance this weekend. For a while we weren't sure whether to go or not (some friends in town were getting married), but after some debate, we threw stuff in the car and went. I'm a little hesitant about writing about this trip, since the people who participate in Sun Dances consider it one of their most sacred ceremonies, and not to be taken lightly.

I tried to find good online websites to describe the actual ceremony, but can't find any. There aren't even any good books for you to turn to, which makes me sad. What we were privileged enough to see and participate in was truly awesome, and I wish there were descriptions for you to read about it!

With nothing but respect for who we met and what we saw, here's a brief summary of our trip:

We left Friday afternoon and drove from Baker, Montaha to Kadoka, South Dakota. We crashed at a motel that night, and then woke up at 5am the next morning to finish the drive to St. Francis, South Dakota, a small town on the Rosebud Reservation. We (I) forgot about the time zone change, so we ended up getting there an hour later than we planned to. We drove onto the Sun Dance grounds and parked the car near the entrance. We were instructed to find a woman named Theresa, who had left. But we were shown to the "Minnesota Camp" where many people welcomed us and tried to help us feel comfortable.

This was impossible for the moment, because people were running up to the car demanding we turn around and, "get those dogs out of here!" Pets are, apparently, not allowed at this Sun Dance. So we drove to Valentine, Nebraska, and dropped them off with a sympathetic vet clinic for the weekend. Once back, we were instructed to set up our tent and enjoy the ceremony. We watched several "rounds", which is what each dance was called. They lasted about 45-90 minutes each, with a good break in between.

The Minnesota Camp offered supper for a donation, but we had prepared and brought a little grill and hotdogs. Stephan cooked while I slept for a minute. We ate, and learned that the Sun Dance was over for the day, so our friend Tommy was able to visit with us for a few hours before sunset. As a Dancer, he was not allowed to eat or drink anything from Midnight until sundown the next day, or touch water, for the four days of the Ceremony. He could eat, and he was drinking Gatorade when we found him. Here is a photo of a Sun Dancer. I don't know how this was taken; photos were strictly prohibited, as were any notes or drawings. I hope posting this photo doesn't break a rule.

We slept in the tent Saturday night (not quite so fun for a pregnant lady who needs to find an outhouse at whatever-time-in-the-morning-that-was). Well before dawn the loudspeaker projected a Lakota song across the campsite. (Click here for Lakota music, ignore the images). It was a beautiful way to wake up, which was followed by the most obnoxious "morning radio" I could have ever imagined. Two guys did a Cheech & Chong type morning show trying to wake everyone up. It was funny, but just barely pre-dawn. We woke up anyway (we were a minority of awake people) and set up our chairs to watch the first round of the morning. We stayed through two more rounds, Stephan helping wash dishes for the Minnesota Camp, and left to pick up the dogs and drive back home.

I might write more about the actual ceremony after I talk to Tommy this week. Since we were invited guests, I don't want to violate (more of) their rules. Check out the internet for Lakota, Sioux, Sun Dance and Hollow Horn Bear for more information.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting Home and More stuff

We're home from all of our summer vacations, just getting back in the groove. There hasn't been much to report outside of the normal packing, unpacking, driving, unpacking, packing, rinse, repeat. Well, that and the wonders of pregnancy.

Topics to come include:

- The insane hot weather Montana lives through in late summer
- How to have a baby in rural Montana (when your doctor is 93 miles away)
- Where we're going to put a baby in our tiny house
- How much I love Plevna
- Other stories to delight and amaze!

Until then, I'll be typing up ethics papers and going to work. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Check out The Flickr Site for photos of our stay-cation in Chicago. We went to the Zoo on Monday, Stephan took in a Cubs game on Tuesday, Aquarium Wednesday, and more stuff coming up!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Skit from our Vacation

Me: Hey, I just got an email from Uncle David. There’s just a few days until we leave for the vacation, are you still okay with spending a week with my family?

Him: Yes, dear.

Me: You know my parents are picking us up in St. Louis and it’s a four-hour drive there?

Him: Yes, dear.

Me: Don’t forget the talent show is the first night and we have to perform in front of the whole family.

Him: Are you nuts???

Me: I just got an email from my mom, her cat’s bladder infection is clearing up. Don’t forget to clean the litter box before we leave.

Him: Yes, dear.

Me: Oh, and you’ll have to fill the food and water dishes.

Him: Yes, dear.

Me: Oh, did you see this formal photo that mom and dad took with their cats? I think we should do that!

Him: Are you nuts???

Me: We got an anniversary card from Grandma & Grandad. How many years has it been?

Him: However long it’s been, it hasn’t been long enough.

Me: Your sister wants to know if we want to have the baby baptized in Chicago. What do you think?

Him: Yes, dear.

Me: She wants us to use your mom’s baptism gown.

Him: Yes dear.

Me: She wants to have it the first Sunday in February, but it’s the Superbowl. Is that ok?

Him: Are you nuts???