Read more from the Being Truly Human July 1996 Newsletter
Charles Eastman speaks in 1911 to Ohíye S’a, the Santee Sioux physician and author, about the manner in which his people worship
In the life of the Indian, there was only one inevitable duty — the duty of prayer — the daily recognition of the Unseen and Eternal. His daily devotions were more necessary to him than daily food. He wakes at daybreak, puts on his moccasins and steps down to the water’s edge. Here he throws handfuls of clear, cold water into his face, or plunges in bodily. After the bath, he stands erect before the advancing dawn, facing the sun as it dances upon the horizon, and offers his unspoken orison. His mate may precede or follow him in his devotions, but never accompanies him. Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth and the Great Silence, alone.
Whenever in the course of the daily hunt the red hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful or sublime — a black thunder cloud with the rainbow’s glowing arch above the mountain, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge, a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of sunset — he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him all days are God’s.
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