Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 12:3 (Summer 1992). Copyright © 1992 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


This book supports the basic presupposition that Native American religion has always been the expression of an individual point of view. Endemic to the Sioux religious tradition, the Wicasa Wakan, "holy man" or shaman, has struggled over the last 150 years to preserve a religious heritage that has undergone continuous development and modification. Yet, at the core of that heritage, it has been the personal religious experiences and abilities of the shaman that have acted as the authenticating touchstone of belief. In the same spirit that chainsaws are preferred over stone axes, contemporary Sioux shamans have been challenged to articulate a religious orientation that is fully attuned to life in the late twentieth century. This book is a step in that direction, and, in a sense, represents a marker on the way toward reformulated spiritual activity that can no longer look back to the nineteenth century for its religious standards.