Abstract The origin, history, and classification of the Lakota Yuwipi tradition continue to challenge Western religious and scientific frameworks and epistemologies. In this article, I reexamine this particular ritual tradition from a postcolonial perspective that is sensitive to and cooperative with contemporary Lakota self-representation(s). This critical reexamination of the history of research on this ritual tradition, the “phenomena” typically associated with it, and its categorical elision under the anthropological rubric of North American “shamanism” seeks to destabilize systemic prejudicial assumptions and conceptualizations while exploring the potential possibility for future collaborative research projects. YUWIPI: ETYMOLOGY, ORIGINS, AND METHODOLOGY THE WORD Yuwipi refers to a healing/curing ritual, as well as the ritual specialist, the “Yuwipi man” (yuwipi wicaša), among the Lakota (Sioux) people of the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations. The ritual specialists are wrapped in a blanket or quilt and bound with leather cords while they call their spirit-helpers or “friends” for assistance in healing, finding lost objects, predicting the future, or solving a variety of community problems. There is some uncertainty about the precise meaning and derivation of the word. Eugene Buechel notes that the verb yuwi means “to wrap around” or “bind up” (Buechel 1970, 656; cf. Riggs 1851, 274), but provides a separate entry for yuwipi as a noun meaning “transparent stones, usually found on ant hills and used in the wakan wicohan called yuwipi, which consists in one being tied all around and being loosed by magic” (Buechel 1970, 657). He adds yet another entry for yuwipi wasicun as a term virtually synonymous with tunkan, “a sacred round hard stone that is supposed to have power in the hands of those who have dreamed.” William K. Powers notes that “there seems to be “some disagreement among Oglala respondents about the precise derivation of the term” and reports that the word also signifies “roll[ing] up something like a ball of yarn,” referring to how the Lakota “spirits” “roll up” the tobacco ties (Powers 1982, 7). Today “Yuwipi” tends to be “gloss[ed]” as “they bind/wrap [him] up” [the medicine man] (cf. Fugle  1994, 3), but there are a number of possible referents, including: (1) the name of the ritual; (2) the verb-form describing what happens in the ritual; (3) the ritual specialist given the special “power” of unbinding; (4) nonhuman agents (the “Yuwipi spirits”); (5) a person’s socio-religious identification (“He’s Yuwipi”); (6) the “transparent” (quartz) stones used by Yuwipi men in their rattles; and (7) the invested source (tunkan) of the Yuwipi man’s power (Yuwipi wasicun). Since the 1950s, Yuwipi has often come under scholarly study as a focal point of contemporary Lakota religious revitalization (Hurt and Howard 1952, 286–96; Ruby  2010a; Hurt 1960, 48–52; Feraca 1961, 155–63; Fugle  1994; Kemnitzer 1968; 1976, 261–80; Grobsmith 1974, 129–33; Lewis 1987, 173–87; Powers 1982). There is still no significant consensus, however, on the historical origin of the Lakota Yuwipi ritual. In 1968 Luis Kemnitzer noted that apart from “a few fragmentary comments . . . nothing has been published about the period between 1890, the year of the crushing of native non-Christian religious practices, and the present” (Kemnitzer 1968, 181). The warrant for the present article is multi-faceted and includes: (1) the translation and publication of Thomas Tyon’s manuscript references to the “Yuwipi society” (Yuwipi Okolakiciye) and the “Yuwipi feast” (Yuwipi Wohanpi) recorded circa 1911 (Walker 1980); (2) the 1978 publication of a Lakota oral tradition recorded in 1915 that allegedly narrates a “Yuwipi feast” (Yuwipi wohanpi) in the 1870s (Buechel and Manhart  1998); (3) newly published letters from Joseph Epes Brown’s 1948 fieldwork on the Pine Ridge Reservation that explicitly refer to “Yuwipi” (Brown  2007); and (4) Raymond DeMallie’s 1984 reevaluation of John Neihardt’s work with Nicholas Black Elk, with references to Black Elk as a former practitioner of Yuwipi.1 The reconstruction of this period (1890–1940) using “ethnohistorical methods” is clearly a desideratum (Kemnitzer 1968, 181). Some suggest that Yuwipi is an “ancient” ritual. A dominant anthropological theory is that Yuwipi represents a North American Plains version of the “Shaking Tent” ceremony (Hultkrantz 1967, 32–68; Hurt and Howard 1952, 286; cf. Ray 1941; Cooper 1944, 60–84). Eugene Fugle, for example, intimates that the origins of the Yuwipi “cult” lay in the pre-reservation period (Fugle  1994, 30 n. 12). Similarly, Joëlle Rostkowski suggests that “Yuwipi” has been practiced “depuis la Conquête” and that the ritual is “simplement perçus par la plupart des Lakotas comme ‘très anciens’” (Rostkowski 1998, 292). There are indications that Nicholas Black Elk, prior to his “conversion” to Catholicism, was a practicing Yuwipi man between 1892 and 1904 (DeMallie 1984, 13; Costello 2005, 9; Steltenkamp 1993, 32; Hurt and Howard 1952, 292). Thomas Lewis claims that “Although yuwipi has ancient origins, it also contains more recent accretions” (Lewis 1987, 177). Several prominent Lakota Yuwipi men have affirmed its antiquity. Frank Fools Crow regards the Yuwipi ceremony as “an ancient Sioux ritual” (Mails 1979, 93), while John Fire Lame Deer reports that “Yuwipi is one of our most ancient rites. Some people say that it is not so old, but they are wrong. . . nobody knows its beginning. I believe yuwipi to be as old as our people” (Erdoes 1972, 184). Similarly, Leonard Crow Dog states that “The Yuwipi is one of the original ceremonies that was given to the people. Nobody knows how old that ceremony is” (Ortiz 1977, 39). Other authorities suggest that the contemporary Yuwipi ritual is “a recently introduced, spirit-filled ceremony” (ca. 1885) (Stolzman  1998, 42, 131, emphasis added). Most genealogies suggest that its popularity among the Lakota can be attributed to the efforts of “(Buffalo) Horn Chips” (Ptehé Wóptuh’a) (1836–1916), the holy man (wicasa wakan) who provided Crazy Horse with “medicine” in the pre-reservation period (Steinmetz  1998b, 20). Powers suggests that we can trace “the historical provenance of Yuwipi at least back to a single medicine man whose mysterious past is on the lips of nearly every Yuwipi man”: Old Man Chips (Powers 1982, 8). Powers does not want “to give the impression that the Oglala regard Horn Chips as the ‘founder’ of Yuwipi. Yuwipi is considered to be even older than this distinguished sacred man” (10). Powers concedes that “All traditions . . . have some historical point of departure,” even if the “founder” of Yuwipi is “forever lost to us” (8). Powers thus suggests that the origin (and originator) of “Yuwipi” is less important than the fact that “those ritual specialists who conduct Yuwipi and Yuwipi-like rituals continue a tradition whose roots lie in the nebulous past.” The Yuwipi ritual is not mentioned in Nicholas Black Elk’s account of the “Seven Sacred Rites” of the Lakota (Brown 1953). This may be because the Yuwipi rite was a recently introduced ritual, although the fact that Yuwipi was held in considerable suspicion by the Catholic Church throughout the early reservation period and that Black Elk (1863–1950) became a Catholic catechist must also be kept in mind (Steltenkamp 2008 cf. Holler 1995; Stover 1997, 390–97; Rice 1991). The apparent categorical and noncanonical ambiguity of the Yuwipi ceremony within Lakota society during the early reservation period is mirrored by the predominantly negative early Christian missionary encounters with the ritual and only further problematized by how Western academic sciences have interpreted its function in contemporary Lakota culture. This article focuses on how the Yuwipi ritual has been understood both within a Christian (and predominantly Catholic) discourse as well as within Western academic, anthropological, and religious frameworks. It is a daunting task, however, to understand what is, from the emic (“insider’s”) perspective, wakan—holy, mysterious, and incomprehensible (Powers  1992, 23). Nonetheless, the Yuwipi ritual has been ethnographically observed and described on numerous occasions and so represents an object of sustained critical study, that is, an established discourse in anthropological and Native American studies.2 The origin, phenomenological comparability, history, development, function, and purpose of Yuwipi raises a number of methodological issues that challenge those who study religion. These issues include, but are not necessarily limited to, the insider/outsider problem; participant observation; the categorization of Native American religious phenomena; the historical role of Christianity in the description, redescription, and systemization of Lakota religion; New Age exploitation(s) of Native American spirituality; and the ongoing construction of Lakota social, political, and religious identity (Petrillo 2002; cf. Biolsi 1992; Deloria  1988; Hagen and Shaw 1960; Posthumus 2015). George E. Tinker, for example, criticizes the ongoing “cultural (in)competency” and “contemporary colonialism” of Western-trained academic approaches to Native American religion (Tinker 2004, 78). Calling for an “American Indian theology of liberation”—a theological project grounded in his own dual identity as both Native (Osage) scholar and Christian (Lutheran) pastor and theologian—Tinker suggests that the concept of Native “cultural competency” is a more reliable “identification test” of Indian identity than blood quantum (44, 46). He delineates four identity markers: (1) “spatiality”; (2) “attachment to particular lands or territory”; (3) “the priority of community over the personal”; and (4) “a consistent notion of the interrelatedness of humans and the rest of creation” (44). This conceptualization of “cultural competency” may be “an enigmatic category of late colonialism with its own complexities,” including cultural “hybridity” (“all of us suffer some degree of hybridity”) (46, 48), but it illustrates how complex and highly contextualized Native communities, relationships, territories, and social networks really are (44–45). Despite the ongoing ambiguities (and ironies) associated with postcolonial Native appropriations of the colonizer’s language, discourse, and religion, Tinker’s emphasis on “cultural alterity” and Indian difference is an important methodological intervention within a field often guilty of etic misrepresentation. A postcolonial approach acknowledges the cultural specificities of particular Native peoples in particular “spatial” and geographical locations and their social, economic, political, and ritual contexts. Dale Stover, for example, proposes “a North American postcolonial hermeneutic” by focusing on “the oral voice of tradition embodied in the lived experience” of a particular Lakota community on the Pine Ridge Reservation that “entails an interpreter entering into ritual relationship” with the community (Stover 2001, 817–36). Similarly, Sandra L. Garner, following Jodi Byrd, has recently developed an “indigenous-centric approach,” a critical perspective that “centers itself within indigenous epistemologies and the specificity of the communities and cultures from which it emerges and then looks outward to engage European philosophical, legal, and cultural tradition in order to build upon all the allied tools available” (Garner 2016, 6; cf. Byrd 2011, xxix–xxx). Garner attempts to destabilize traditional anthropological and ethnographic approaches that tended to view Indian peoples as “informants” and replace this with an affirmation of Indians as independently authoritative causal agents (cf. Ostler 2004, 4). In a postcolonial context, where tribal sovereignty, land/water rights, treaty obligations, Native self-representation, and even “declarations of war” against non-Native appropriations and exploitations of Lakota spirituality continue to complicate relationships, the Yuwipi rite—a living tradition still practiced by contemporary Yuwipi men reflecting traditional Lakota kinship systems of family (tiospaye), community, and land—not only challenges Western religious and scientific frameworks with its vigorous resistance to (mis)categorization (as “devil-worship,” “superstition,” “shamanism,” etc.), but also presents researchers with an opportunity to engage a particular Native worldview and ritual “complex” on its own terms (Powers 1987, 126–46). A critical analysis of the major theoretical frameworks utilized in Lakota/non-Native encounters will not only expose the interpretive flaws in these paradigms but will also help facilitate the construction of new interpretive frameworks to better represent the data and the lived reality of Lakota people. YUWIPI AND CHRISTIANITY: A POST-VATICAN II RAPPROCHMENT? In the late 1800s, the United States government outlawed traditional Lakota ceremonial practices. In 1883, Henry Teller, the Secretary of the Interior, developed laws prohibiting Native ceremonial activity. In 1892, Thomas J. Morgan, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, codified the offense: anyone practicing the ways of a medicine man would be imprisoned. It is within this atmosphere that early Yuwipi practice must be understood. In such an atmosphere, it was relatively easy to portray Yuwipi—a rite held at night, under cover of “darkness,” that (sometimes) involved performing a ritual animal sacrifice—as “devil worship.” Catholic missionaries condemned attendance as “a serious sin” that required confession before Holy Communion could be received. The Yuwipi ritual was held in suspicion and attendance was discouraged not only because it involved secret meetings, but also because there was “a lot of superstition attached to that ceremony,” with “many reports of medicine men hexing people or deceiving people or spiritually mixing people up” While this condemnation may have arisen during “a time of denominational narrow-mindedness, blindness, and ignorance,” it left its mark, with some Natives and non-Natives continuing to regard the ritual as “devil-worship” (Stolzman  1998, 148). Today, many Lakotas are affiliated with a Christian denomination, not just because their ancestors were once forced to do so, but also because many do not see irreconcilable contradictions in recognizing different religious traditions as simultaneously true (Lindenfeld 2007, 291). This openness to other religious truth wreaks havoc with missionary attempts to “convert” Indians exclusively to Christ, but also facilitates interreligious dialogue and exchange. It would not be until the post-Vatican II’s more inclusive approach to non-Christian religions that the theological supersessionism of the Pipe as Christ could be replaced by the recognition that the Pipe and Christ represented two complementary religious approaches present in contemporary Lakota society (cf. Steinmetz 1998a; Vecsey 1999; Rostkowski 1998 refers to “la conversion inachevée” of the Lakota). Between 1973 and 1978, Father William Stolzman and a group of fellow Jesuits held a dialogue with a number of traditional Lakota medicine men from the Rosebud Revervation.3 They called it “The Medicine Men and Pastor’s Meeting.”4 The two groups came together every month for five years to discuss a number of topics. The end result is a fascinating series of comparative religious and interfaith discussions about the core elements of the Lakota and Christian faiths. Stolzman and his colleagues undertook what is still the most transparent “insider” discussion of Yuwipi ritual practice. Stolzman provides an extensive description and analysis of the ceremonial context and ritual tools as well as a vivid description of the Yuwipi rite itself (Stolzman  1998, 131–32, 134–35, 142–43). Stolzman also discusses Catholic religious prejudices against the Yuwipi tradition while affirming the ritual’s importance in Lakota religion. In a chapter devoted to “Questions on Yuwipi,” Stolzman admits that “In many ways I found this chapter most unpleasant to write,” primarily because such discussions of “negative things open old sores and are disheartening” (147). Stolzman claims that he “delayed bringing these questions up . . . as long as possible,” because these were questions “behind the Catholic censureship [sic] of Yuwipi for so many years” (147). In response to the important question of “why was the Church’s attitude toward Indian religion so negative,” Stolzman delineates four different Catholic responses: (1) positive Catholic respect for Lakota spirituality and prayer; (2) negative denunciation of all non-Catholic and non-Christian religious traditions; (3) accommodation of Catholic Lakota complementarity “as precursors” of Christ; and (4) condemnation of the Yuwipi ritual. Stolzman first addresses why the Catholic Church was so negative about the Lakota Yuwipi ritual. In the transcript for the meeting dated January 24, 1977, Stolzman cites four reasons for this: (1) the possibility of “hexing” or cursing; (2) the possibility of Lakota Yuwipi men issuing false prophecies and predictions; (3) the possibility that the “signs that take place within the meetings” could be manufactured and falsified; and (4) that the ritual sometimes required a (blood) “sacrifice” in compensation or payment for spiritual services. Given these concerns, it is not surprising that it took the Catholic Church almost a century to initiate a rapprochement with traditional Lakota (Yuwipi) “Medicine Men.” The most difficult problem, however, concerns the authenticity of the phenomena experienced during Yuwipi rites. Stolzman warns that the answer to this question is “neither singular nor simple” (Stolzman  1998, 149). Nonetheless, Stolzman affirms his belief in the existence of “spiritual” phenomena (150). Stolzman admits that his “Western, academic background pushed me to find causality in everything conceivable” (151). He even acknowledges his own frustration on asking Lakota people about this and their typical answer of “I don’t know.” Ultimately, Stolzman cannot provide simplistic “yes” or “no” answers to the question of causality, because “the data is too mixed” (153). He suggests that there are four possibilities: (1) the “phenomena” is caused “entirely by exterior spirits with the medicine man remaining completely still and only praying in the center” (153); (2) the medicine man enters into “a state of ecstasy” in which “spirits” use him as their material agent; (3) the medicine man could be “directed” by the “spirits”; or (4) the medicine man could be “faking it.” Stolzman acknowledges that accusations of “fake” medicine men were familiar on the Rosebud Reservation. Stolzman insists, however, that such things should not be done by “true medicine men.” “Fake” medicine men might be motivated by a variety of factors, including jealousy, a desire for self-promotion, or even “sincere interest to communicate the truth,” yet there is a common perception that a “fake” medicine man does not have any “power,” whereas if a medicine man is truly wakan, or has “power,” healings will take place, predictions will come true, and prayers will be answered (153–55, 149–50). While Stolzman affirms the existence and agency of the Lakota spirits, he maintains that truly spiritual people will not be “really impressed by the ‘external theatrics’ of the ceremony,” but will rather focus on “the needs of one’s relatives” (Stolzman  1998, 155). Stolzman admits that “most priests, sisters, and White people” attend the ceremonies “out of interest in the ceremony” and less because they care about the welfare of those sponsoring the ceremony. Yet Stolzman seems confident that if one attends ceremonies for the right reasons, one will “very quickly” be able to discern whether the medicine man is real or “fake.” According to Stolzman, the relationship between the Catholic Church and traditional Lakota religion reflects a “maturing process” in which Christians and the Lakota have been getting to know each other better, with the Church “growing up on the reservation,” gradually moving from a position of “blanket condemnation” to one of “cautious encouragement” toward (Lakota) people attending Yuwipi rituals (149). THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF YUWIPI There are no explicit references to “Yuwipi” in the literature published between 1880 and 1920, when the origin, early history, and dissemination of Yuwipi rites and practitioners on Pine Ridge and Rosebud were in their most formative stages (Fugle  1994, 27). An early reference to a Yuwipi-like display of ritual power, however, can be found in James Lynd’s “Religion of the Dakotas” (c. 1840) (Lynd 1864, 150–74, 158–59; cf. Dorsey 1894). Lynd does not refer to this display of power as Yuwipi, nor is there any communal activity, but the “faquir” is described as being supernaturally released from his bonds. In 1859, Edward D. Neill referred to “that strange ceremony” conducted by the “Dahkotahs” in which “the performer being bound hand and foot with the greatest care, is suddenly unbound by an invisible agent” (Neill 1859, 57–58). A similar description is also found in Gideon Pond’s “Dakota Superstitions” (Pond 1867, 32–62). While Pond was a missionary opposed to Dakota religion who regarded these “wakan-men” as “devils incarnate” (62), it is difficult to discount what appear to be Yuwipi-like features in this account: ritual binding in darkness and supernatural release (56–57).5 These early reports among the pre-reservation Dakota show that while such performances were already known, the particulars of the Yuwipi ritual tradition—that is, the preparatory inipi, communal prayer setting, and feast—were formally developed in the early reservation period.6 There is a possible distinction, therefore, between the ritual performance of binding and unbinding in the early ethnographic reports and the significance attributed to the wrapped and bound corpse-like body of the ritual specialist—that is, the symbolic death of the specialist as it developed during the early reservation period. In 1915, Ivan Stars recorded an oral tradition on Pine Ridge narrated by 71-year-old Bone Bead (Wawoslata) describing a “Yuwipi feast” (Yuwipi wohanpi) that took place in the 1870s (Buechel and Manhart  1998, 2: 452–63). This Lakota oral tradition was not translated and published until 1978, however, so it did not contribute to the early scholarly discussion on Yuwipi. Nonetheless, this account, entitled Wicaša Wan Yuwipi: Tatunkce Hanska eciyapi (“A Yuwipi Man: Called Tall Dung”), indicates that “Yuwipi” had already become a known, named, and remembered tradition in the early twentieth century.7 While most genealogies of Yuwipi suggest that its origin can be attributed to “(Buffalo Horn) Chips” (Ptehé Wóptuh’a) (1836–1916), contemporary Yuwipi practitioner Godfrey Chipps (1954–2014), a direct lineal descendant of Wóptuh’a, states that the origins of the Yuwipi ritual can be attributed to the two youngest son(s) of Woptuh’a: Ptehé Wóptuh’a, Charles Horn Chips (1873–1946), and Tahunska, or James Moves Camp (1869–1949) (Lyon 2012, 354–56). There is historical documentation that Charles Horn Chips, in particular, was arrested for “practicing [the] Yuwipi ceremony” without a tribal license on Rosebud prior to 1939, an offense punishable by fines, forced labor, and imprisonment.8 It is perhaps not surprising then that the historical origin(s) of Yuwipi on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations remains a mystery preserved most faithfully within Lakota community oral-memory traditions. Nonetheless, the newly published translations of James Walker’s papers provide additional documentary evidence of Yuwipi-like rites conducted in the early twentieth century. Between 1896 and 1914, Walker served as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) physician at the Pine Ridge Agency and recorded information from Oglala “informants,” including George Sword and Little Wound (Walker 1917). In addition, Thomas Tyon wrote a number of essays in Lakota for Walker around 1911. Although these texts were not translated and published until 1980 (Walker 1980, 153–54), Tyon provides what is perhaps the earliest datable reference to the ritual-ceremonial use of the word “Yuwipi.” In the manuscript entitled “The Rock is Believed Wakan” (Inyan Wakan-Wicalapi-Win), Tyon refers to “the Yuwipi feast” (Yuwipi Wohanpi) and “the Yuwipi society” (Yuwipi Okolakiciye),9 associating both with “Rock Dreamers” (Inyan Ihanblapi)—now constituted as an identifiable society or association of similar ritual specialists on Pine Ridge.10 Eugene Buechel provides a dictionary entry for “Yuwipi,” but it cannot be dated with any certainty. Moreover, Buechel’s dictionary entry absorbed Riggs’s earlier definition of yuwi (“to bind”) (Riggs 1851), now supplemented with Buechel’s post-1902 reference to sacred “stones” (yuwipi wasicun) used in Yuwipi rites, illustrating a new range of meanings for Yuwipi, and its descriptive and evocative utility as a multi-faceted gloss.11 The word “Yuwipi,” however, does not seem to have been in public use until the mid-twentieth century. American anthropologist Clark Wissler, for example, investigated “ceremonial societies” on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1903, which included a variety of “Dream Cults” (Heyoka, Elk, Bear, Black-Tail Deer, and Buffalo), but never mentions the word Yuwipi (Wissler 1912). In 1918, Frances Densmore noted that dreaming of a small stone was “a sign of great import,” indicative of the dreamer acquiring supernatural power resulting in the ability “to cure sickness, to predict future events, and to tell the location of objects beyond the range of his natural vision”: classic components associated with Yuwipi rites (Densmore 1918, 204). Densmore reports the use of sacred stones in a medicine man’s “demonstration” prior to “curing of the sick” during which time these stones are described as “flying through the air in the darkened tent” (205). Densmore also refers to a ceremony by Bear Necklace in which the man’s arms and fingers are bound and his body wrapped in a buffalo robe in a darkened “tent,” after which he was released (218). Densmore refers to yet another kind of “demonstration” performed by a man “skillful in the use of sacred stones” who was “tightly bound with thongs” in a darkened “tent” only to be found “wedged between the poles near the top . . . with all the restraining cords cast from him (246). Bear Necklace’s performance appears to be a “Yuwipi” rite in all but name. Similarly, the “curing” rite held in the darkened tipi is also “Yuwipi” in all but name. Both events appear to predate the early reservation period (245–46). Ella Deloria (1889–1971), working between 1928 and 1938, collected ethnographic reports about her people and refers to “the Rock people” (Taku-skanskan) as “mysterious aids to certain types of medicine men” (Deloria 1928–1938, 18). Deloria, the daughter of one of the first Lakota Episcopal priests, did not witness or participate in any rituals but quotes various “informants,” Blackbird and Little Moon, who relate to her stories of medicine men being bound upon going “into the Mysterious” and being released by the Taku-skanskan (22, 23). It is difficult to deny the cumulative weight of this early testimonial evidence associating “the rock people” in Densmore, Tyon, and Deloria’s ethnographic accounts with Yuwipi-like binding and unbinding of Lakota ritual specialists. If we recall Eugene Buechel’s definition of “yuwipi” as the “transparent stones” (yuwipi wasicun) used in Yuwipi ceremonies (Beuchel 1970, 656), there seems to be an inescapable connection between the early literature’s “rock dreamers,” stone “spirits,” and the historical origin of the Yuwipi rite. Both the word “Yuwipi” and anthropological awareness of the Yuwipi rite only emerge after the appearance of John Collier’s 1934 circular on “Indian Religious Freedom and Indian Culture” (Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs), which stated that “No interference with Indian religious life or ceremonial expression will hereafter be tolerated” (Collier 1934). That is, it is only once the US government decided that there should no longer be “interference” with or “censorship” of Indian religious life that the named tradition first appears (Steinmetz 1998, 17). This suggests that it was kept secret or “underground” in both name and form during the previous half-century.12 The conspicuous silence on “Yuwipi” in the early anthropological literature can thus be attributed to a variety of factors, no single one of which seems to be determinative. These factors include: (1) fear: all traditional Lakota ceremonies were outlawed by the federal government (1883–1934) and practitioners were subject to arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment; (2) isolation: Yuwipi rites were primarily located in rural areas like the Wanblee district, eighty miles away from the Pine Ridge Agency’s government and ecclesiastical officials, allowing for the rites’ relative obscurity to be maintained into the mid-twentieth century; (3) secrecy: Yuwipi rites were held at night in private residences in isolated rural areas; (4) ritual innovation (name): the ritual terms Lowanpi (“they sing”) and Yuwipi (“they tie up”) were not included in the “Seven Rites,” indicating that they would not have been recognized as “traditional rites” (at least by reservation officials) and were less easily identifiable and persecuted; (5) ritual innovation (form): Yuwipi rites were formulated in the 1880s to 1890s as private communal prayer meetings with ceremonial feasts, which indicates that they could have slipped under the radar as cultural unknowns (White Hat 2012, 79). Moreover, this ritual innovation served to preserve and revitalize traditional Lakota religion through a secret network of Yuwipi men in different reservation districts; (6) exclusivity: nonbelieving Lakota (and non-Indians) were discouraged from attending Yuwipi rites (while believing members kept its existence a secret), further serving to keep the Yuwipi tradition unknown; (7) misinformation: the possibility of Lakotas intentionally misleading government officials, anthropologists, and religious authorities,13 whether to insure their own safety and security or as “hidden transcripts” of resistance (Scott 1990). Given this atmosphere of religio-political persecution, fear, isolation, and secrecy, it is not surprising that the word “Yuwipi” is never mentioned in print prior to 1946. YUWIPI AND ANTHROPOLOGY (1946–2016) In 1946, anthropologist Gordon Macgregor stated that “the Yuwipi meeting” represented “the only continuing cult of the old Dakota religion” (Macgregor 1946, 98–99). Macgregor’s fieldwork, conducted from 1942 to 1943, refers to “Yuwipi” as a known quantity. He does not explain its etymology, provide a history of the tradition, or betray any sense that the rite is a recent innovation. On the contrary, it is the “only continuing cult” of an ancient religion despite that such “cults” were “bound for extinction” (Macgregor 1946, 103; cf. Malan and Jesser 1959, 43, 49). In September 1947, Joseph Epes Brown met Nicholas Black Elk and his family in northern Nebraska and almost immediately began working on recording Black Elk’s account of the “Seven Rites” of the Lakota, which Brown would publish as The Sacred Pipe in 1953. Brown, like Neihardt, never mentions the Yuwipi ritual in The Sacred Pipe. It was not until 2007, with the publication of Brown’s letters, that the full extent of Brown’s participation in Lakota ceremonial life (in relation to Black Elk’s own goals) in 1947 and 1948 was revealed. In several letters, Brown refers to Little Warrior as a Yuwipi man (Brown  2007, 103, 112). On December 26, 1947, Brown attended a Yuwipi ceremony conducted by Little Warrior. Little Warrior lived near Kyle but spent the week with Brown and Black Elk in Manderson and performed various “ceremonials” (108). Even taking into consideration Brown’s quasi-religious sentimental romanticization of a lost Lakota past, it is clear that what Black Elk—and Little Warrior—had in mind was a collaborative effort, with Brown as the amanuensis, of the revitalization of the Sacred Pipe religion (112). In January 1948, Brown reports that Black Elk and Little Warrior met to discuss who should be the new Keeper of the Pipe, again illustrating Black Elk’s ongoing investment in the “old religion” (116). Finally, in the late summer of 1948, Brown refers to additional Yuwipi rites conducted by Little Warrior (“as mysterious and extraordinary as ever”) (120). Brown clearly knew—and experienced—far more about contemporary Lakota religion than he shared in The Sacred Pipe (1953). Brown never even mentions Yuwipi or the fact that he participated in Yuwipi meetings in his 1953 publication. This may be because Black Elk did not regard Yuwipi as one of the seven “Sacred Rites,” so its inclusion was ethnographically inappropriate, but just like Neihardt’s silence on Black Elk’s Catholicism, Brown’s silence on Yuwipi and Black Elk’s collaboration with Little Warrior in revitalizing the Pipe religion perhaps suggests more than an ethnographic romanticization of the past. It is all the more interesting that Brown kept his involvement with Little Warrior relatively quiet in light of the fact that Little Warrior’s Yuwipi altar was revealed (by “informants”) to Wesley Hurt and James Howard (c. 1950), the first anthropologists who explicitly identified Yuwipi as a derivative of the “Conjuring” tradition or “Shaking Tent” rite (Hurt and Howard 1952, 299, 292–93). In 1952, Hurt and Howard inaugurated what would become a long-standing academic convention: conflating Yuwipi-like accounts (the “binding” of “shamans,” “shaking tents”) in the literature with the Lakota Yuwipi rite (Hurt and Howard 1952, 286–96). They suggested that the Yuwipi ritual is an example of “the tendency for institutions concerned with native medical practices to linger” after the social and economic forms that gave rise to it have changed (286, emphasis added). Nonetheless, they note that “the institution seems destined to survive for some time” (294), especially because one of their “informants,” an unnamed “Dakota college student,” told them it was “a profitable business for the practitioners” and had “heard of several Dakota who are planning to become wapiye for mercenary reasons.” Hurt and Howard also note that although there was “apparently no conflict” for the Yuwipi men in affirming and practicing both Lakota religion and Catholicism simultaneously, “Two of the men were ordered to stop on the penalty of excommunication, while the other was whipped with a quirt for practicing the rite” (294). Although they are openly skeptical about a central feature of the Yuwipi rite—the so-called “‘Houdini’ trick (loosening of bonds)” which had “supposedly been untied by the spirits in the darkness” (295, 291, emphasis added)—it is the quality of their “informants” that marks their work as inadequate. For example, according to one of their “informants,” not all Yuwipi men unbind themselves in the darkness, because “some have a committee which does this afterwards” (292). Similarly, they claim that “apparently a vision is not necessary at the present time” since “Black Elk, a Pine Ridge informant, claims that several of the present-day shamans have dispensed with these preliminaries.” Another such “informant,” Wallace Walking Bull, claimed that “at present anyone who desired to practice the Yuwipi rite might do so” (293). Although Hurt and Howard concede that this was “not confirmed by the majority of native informants,” they conclude their short study by claiming how “certain” Yuwipi men “apparently continue their practice purely for mercenary reasons” (296, emphasis added). Neither Hurt nor Howard had ever attended a Yuwipi ritual.14 In August 1953, Robert H. Ruby, a young US Public Health Service surgeon, began an eighteen-month-long residency at the Pine Ridge Indian Hospital, Although Ruby published an account within a few years of his residency that described a Yuwipi ceremony conducted by George Poor Thunder, Ruby’s relatively casual ethnographic tourism and categorical imprecision are evident throughout (Ruby  2010a, 62–66). For example, Ruby flatly states that “the Indian Religion is Yuwipi,” although the Yuwipi ritual is only part of the Lakota ceremonial complex (44). Ruby also errs in stating that “long ago, the Indians worshipped in the daytime. Today, the ceremonies take place at night. The present-day service has been perverted” (45). It is not clear, in such cases, where Ruby is getting his “information” from, since there is no evidence that Yuwipi was ever regularly conducted during the daytime. Similarly, when Ruby discusses the Yuwipi ritual, he opines: “The services vary in procedure. Some medicine men manage immediately to loosen the sinews that bind their hands and then untie the rope around their bodies. In this case, the lights are relit in about two minutes’ time. Other medicine men wait until the service is over . . . Medicine men who slip their bonds tell the worshipers that the Great Spirit has freed them” (47). Ruby gives readers the impression that the Yuwipi rite is a kind of magical performance or “act” with financial motives: “Medicine men make a substantial living from their services. They receive money, food, and other articles” (49). Ruby suggests that “The Indians do not talk about Yuwipi because it displeases the Great Spirit to have the white man know about a thing that is sacred to them.” They also “fear that the Great Spirit might take out his displeasure on them, if they divulged information about sacred things” (54). I would suggest, however, that “The Indians” avoided discussing the Yuwipi tradition with Ruby largely to avoid the skepticism, disbelief, misrepresentation, and reductionism so evident in his account. The recent publication of his personal correspondence provides an intimate picture of Ruby’s daily experience and confirms Ruby’s thoroughgoing skepticism (Ruby 2010b). In a letter dated December 11, 1953, Ruby notes that “many Indians believe in Yuwipi. They come to our hospital, but they practice Yuwipi before they come, or they leave the hospital to practice it” (Ruby 2010b, 73). Ruby seems to have attended his first Yuwipi meeting with George Plenty Wolf in November 1953 (60). Several months later, Ruby concluded that “The medicine man goes rapidly about the room and taps people on the shoulders and head. Yet you do not hear him as he moves about” (110–11). On February 16, 1954, he attended another Yuwipi meeting with about “thirty people there, all Yuwipi believers except Mrs. Forshey and myself” (119). Despite Ruby’s repeated exposure to Yuwipi meetings, he concedes that he “can’t figure out how the medicine man or the helpers performed the service . . . I can’t figure it out” (122–23). As a non-Native surgeon fulfilling a temporary residency on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Ruby clearly preferred the role of observer to participant, and left the reservation not long after, presumably never having “figured it out.” A similar assessment can be made of Stephen Feraca’s brief study of “the Yuwipi cult” (Feraca 1961, 155; cf. Feraca  1998). In June 1956, Feraca was a master’s degree student at Columbia University (Feraca 1957) visiting the Pine Ridge Reservation as a self-described “ethnologist” (160) when he attended a Yuwipi meeting at the Loafer Camp Road community. Feraca suggests that gaining permission to attend the Yuwipi meeting was contingent on his ability to sponsor the meeting’s meal: “Through an agreement it became necessary to give some money” and that “by this act the writers reluctantly became the ‘promoters’ of the ceremony” (156). Feraca never names “the Yuwipi man,” but repeatedly refers to him as “the Yuwipi man” or “the shaman,” despite the fact that he names several other individuals. What are we to make of this apparently willful erasure and omission of the “shaman’s” name and personal identity? This seems to be indicative of a somewhat misguided attempt to reduce “the Yuwipi man/shaman” to a stereotype and render his individuality irrelevant. While Feraca does provide a fairly accurate description of the meeting (Feraca 1961, 158–61), his transparent skepticism further renders his conclusions questionable: Despite the many stories of trickery told throughout the Sioux country, the devotees continue to believe in the power of the Yuwipi men, ignoring these stories or in some cases actually accepting the noises and flashes as part of the show . . . .Yuwipi is a good show and a relief from the boredom of reservation life (Feraca 1961, 161–62, emphases added). George E. Tinker describes Feraca’s work on Lakota religion as a classic example of “racialized colonialism,” and Feraca’s discussion of the Sun Dance, the Vision Quest, and Yuwipi as “misleading, unclear, misinterpreted . . . or just plain wrong” (Tinker 2004, 79, 81). Tinker criticizes “the racism inherent” in Feraca’s “objectivism,” a perspective infected by skepticism and “laced” with “gratuitous insults to Lakota people,” betraying “the smug superiority of both the writer and the assumed (White, academic, etic) reader” (84–85). Feraca’s “careless scholarship” and “total lack of understanding of the actual meaning of the Sun Dance” render his analysis critically useless and ethically offensive. The same pattern emerges in Eugene Fugle’s fieldwork on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1959. Fugle provides detailed descriptions of ritual “paraphernalia,” yet his identification of Yuwipi as a “cult,” a “séance” (Fugle  1994, 6), and a form of “shamanism” is marked by skepticism, suggesting that “the secret” behind the untying was “evidently . . . the few knots tied . . . Also, his assistants probably helped in freeing him” (30 n. 9). When he describes George Poor Thunder’s ritual, he notes that “A few sparks could be seen at various places in the room accompanied by a sound resembling that of an empty cigarette lighter. Evidently Poor Thunder had more than one assistant” (7). When he describes Frank Good Lance’s ritual, he reports that he “later learned from a reliable source that Good Lance used a small rubber toy mouse which squeaked when squeezed to produce the sounds which supposedly came from the eagles; also among his paraphernalia were several wings and claws of a large hawk or eagle as well as a small stick with phosphorous paint on the end to produce the green glow” (9). Fugle illustrates a common pattern in the literature: detailed descriptions of Native rituals conceptualized in anthropologically determined categories (“shamanism,” séance, cults, etc.) combined with insinuations of ritual deception and eyewitness accounts of a wide range of extraordinary phenomena that go unexplained (Hultkrantz 1967, 61). In August 1968, Thomas H. Lewis, MD, a “part-time staff psychiatrist at a mental-health clinic at the Public Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge,” began attending Yuwipi ceremonies with Frank Fools Crow (Lewis 1987, 182; cf. 1990). As a medical doctor working on the reservation, Lewis claims that his interest was “professional.” For Lewis, these ceremonies could be likened to “a group-therapy experience.” The Yuwipi ritual is “reservation theatre, rural-music, archaic poetry” (185–86). Like a doctor, “the yuwipi medicine man provides advice to his rural clients. He gives primary care for chronic and acute disease, family-practice instruction, and referral when appropriate.” If there is any medical value to these performances, the Yuwipi man “ascribes therapeutic efficacy to his supernatural helpers” (187). Accordingly, the healer “pays scant attention to allopathic-homeopathic dualities, to cellular physiology, germ theory, biochemical dynamics, or other fundaments of Western medical theory . . . The medicine man has little interest in linear or multifactorial causality in a Western sense. He is impatient with sequential certainties . . . he endures as an institution in a culture that still needs him” (187, emphasis added). It is not surprising that Lewis’s medical-anthropological study has been criticized as reductive (Irwin 1991, 537; Markowitz 1992, 153–54; Kemnitzer 1992, 217), particularly in likening the Yuwipi man to “the illusionist” (Lewis 1987, 186). In his 1968 University of Pennsylvania PhD dissertation, “Yuwipi: A Modern Dakota Healing Ritual,” Kemnitzer provides a detailed description and analysis of Yuwipi as a kind of shamanism and asks: “how did a minor ritual become the focus of modern traditional religious activity?” (Kemnitzer 1968, 181, 20). According to Kemnitzer, “the increase of activity centered around yuwipi meetings and the proliferation of practitioners have occurred in a recent period of increasing first-hand contact with non-reservation Euro-American culture, on the one hand, and of more tolerant attitude and behavior by the Christian missionaries on the other” (20). As a result, Yuwipi represents “one of several alternative ritual methods of dealing with confusing and indeterminate situations.” Since Christianity in particular denies “the existence of disorder and affirm[s] only the existence of supernaturally-controlled order,” whereas Yuwipi “relies on the admission of disorder and actively transforms this disorder into order,” Yuwipi integrates traditional Lakota belief in nonhuman agencies (“spirits”) and facilitates the influence of Christian tradition (197). Kemnitzer thus constructs a social-psychological explanation, effectively bracketing the “reality” of nonhuman phenomena and agency in the origin, development, and dissemination of Yuwipi. Unlike most anthropologists, William K. Powers began his life-long relationship with the Lakota people long before he began “studying” them. Like Joseph Epes Brown, Powers first visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1948. He received a Lakota name (“Good Eagle”) in 1949 and was adopted by Frank Afraid of Horses in 1952. He did not begin his academic career until the 1960s, earning a doctoral degree in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975 (Powers 1977). Powers’s study, Yuwipi (1982) is based, therefore, on professional training, personal relationships, and “participation” in several Yuwipi rituals during the summers of 1966 and 1967. Powers’s involvement with the Lakota also represents a chronological bridge between early anthropological perspectives that viewed Lakota culture as “data” of primitive religious “cults” to be recorded with the aid of “informants” and a postcolonial era in which such attitudes begin to be treated with suspicion and severe criticism. Powers affirms the typological classification of the Lakota ritual specialist as “shamanic,” noting that “‘shamanism’ is found worldwide,” having “diffused from Siberia” (Powers  1992, 167, 172). Although Powers affirms the typological comparison between Yuwipi and similar “shamanic cult institutions” as “widespread throughout subarctic North America” (Powers 1982, 6), he also suggests that the classification of Lakota ritual meetings should be discussed “from the Oglala point of view” (15). Indeed, from the Lakota perspective, the word “Yuwipi” now represents “a generic term for all night meetings”—so that a Lowanpi meeting can also be referred to as a type of Yuwipi meeting—as well as an identity marker of Lakota belief (“He’s Yuwipi”) (18, emphasis added). Formally, the Lakota classify their ritual specialists based on their particular role and source of power (wowakan) (Powers  1992, 192). A wicasa wakan could be a wapiye wicasa (a “curer”) as well as a Yuwipi wicasa, terms imprecisely translated with the generic labels “medicine man,” “healer,” and “shaman,” but reflecting the insider/outsider problem of negotiating emic and etic perspectives. While the etic account redescribes the Yuwipi specialist in terms amenable to comparative analysis (McCutcheon 1999, 17), emic and etic perspectives are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, despite the admission that Lakota “tradition, religion, and ritual frequently defy neat categorization and simplistic classifications and demarcations,” David Posthumus has recently proposed a tripartite classification of “Types of Nineteenth-Century Lakota Magico-Medico-Ritual Practitioners” (Posthumus 2015, 443; cf. 350–411), categorizing specialists according to the particular practices performed by various “dreamers” (ihanblapi), including the “Holy Man, Shaman” (wicasa wakan), the “Medicine Man, Herbalist” (pejuta wicasa), and the “Conjuror, Magician, Extractor or Introducer of Illness” (wapiya wicasa). Powers and Posthumus both attempt to construct ethnographic classificatory systems “ultimately verifiable by the Oglalas as well as by anthropologists,” that is, “thick descriptions” based on direct observation within a culturally integrated context. Such emically sensitive and culturally specific categories coexist in some tension not only with characteristic references to Indian “holy men,” “medicine men,” and “shamans,” but also with the rise of different stereotyped perspectives in popular culture that saw the Lakota ritual specialist not as a local healer embedded within a particular rural community, but as a universal archetype fit for non-Native spiritual edification and commercial consumption. In the late 1960s, for example, author Richard Erdoes began visiting the Lakota Sicangu of the Rosebud Reservation, collaborating with John Fire Lame Deer, a partnership that would result not only in the publication of Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions, but a veritable industry of as-told-to Indian “autobiographies” with Leonard Crow Dog, Archie Fire Lame Deer, and Dennis Banks (Erdoes 1972, 183–97; 1992; 1995). Similarly, in 1974, Lutheran minister, artist, and author Thomas E. Mails met Frank Fools Crow and began writing a popular biography on the famous “ceremonial chief,” bringing both Fools Crow and the Yuwipi tradition to more public attention (Mails 1979). Whether one attributes the revitalization of Yuwipi rites to “the influence of AIM” [the American Indian Movement] (Posthumus 2015, 539 n. 369), tribal “insecurity and assaults on personal and cultural identity” (Kemnitzer 1970, 40–41), or their greater efficacy in treating life-threatening illness (Deloria 1973, 252–53), “the Lakota Sioux holy man” was no longer just of interest to a few mystically inclined poets and/or an object of study for anthropologists, but the Holy Grail of a whole new generation of spiritual seekers as the concept of the “Indian shaman,” like the hippy generation, came of age in the late 1960s. The analytical utility and propriety of the term “shaman” in the comparative study of religion has been much discussed (Eliade  1964; Znamenski 2007; Porterfield 1987, 721–39; Atkinson 1992, 307–30). Derived from the (Tungus) word “shaman” (šaman), the term originally referred to ritual specialists among Siberian hunting tribes (the Evenki) and was subsequently appropriated by Western intellectuals, cultural anthropologists, and scholars of religion as a cross-cultural “type” of “primitive” religious specialist (Kehoe 2000; cf. Hamayon 2001, 1–27). Alice Kehoe argues that the term “shaman(ism)” now functions as an ideologically loaded and reified monolithic construct that perpetuates covert racism, collapses and elides differences between cultures, and facilitates New Age (neo-shamanistic) “appropriations” in which Native cultures are commodified and commercialized for mass consumption (Kehoe 1996, 377–92). Today the study and practice of (neo-)shamanism represents a controversial intersection with Native American, and particularly Lakota, culture, religion, and spirituality (Vazeilles 2001, 367–87). Andrei Znamenski has shown how the contemporary study and practice of “shamanism” derives from its introduction as a “metaphor” into various Western academic and non-academic contexts (Znamenski 2007; cf. Hutton 2001, viii; Boekhoven 2011, 27). Originating as an anthropological and ethnographic term, the term began to be deployed by spiritual seekers as a cross-cultural technique or practice. More recently, Suzanne Owen has analyzed the New Age “appropriation” of Native American spirituality, focusing on how Lakota reactions to New Age “exploitation” resulted in a Lakota “Declaration of War” (1993) and a “Proclamation” (2003) barring non-Natives from participation in Lakota ceremonies. Owen notes how the accusation of “appropriation” also spills over into the academy, with “New Age appropriation and academic exploitation . . . often addressed together by Native American scholars as two sides to the same problem, that both are continuations of the Western colonization of indigenous ‘territories,’ including knowledge” (Owen 2008, 19). Accusations of Eurocentric bias and intellectual imperialism strike nerves and chords within the Academy (Gill 1994, 963–76; cf. Irwin 1998, 887). Indeed, many Native American communities do not recognize themselves in academic discussions of “shamanism.” For many, the term “shaman” is an “outsider” term rarely used by indigenous people in describing their ritual specialists. The term serves Western academics in labeling and categorizing varied and diverse phenomena, but it also re-inscribes an intellectual imperialism that “names”—and thus (re)defines and harmonizes (that is, colonizes)—whatever it “studies.” Consequently, the term “shaman(ism),” derived from a particular culture, can be criticized as a catch-all theoretical container deployed to represent allegedly universal phenomena extrapolated from a particular cultural context. At first sight, then, Lakota Yuwipi rites would seem to fit the “shamanic” model, given that Yuwipi practitioners are said to communicate with spirits, prophesize, heal, find lost objects, and manifest extraordinary powers.15 Yet there are lingering doubts about the propriety of this model. Hultkrantz is illustrative. Admitting that the word “shamanism” is “ambiguous,” yet defining the word “shaman” as “a practitioner who, with the help of spirits, cures the sick or reveals hidden things etc. while being in an ecstasy” (Hultkrantz 1967, 32–33), Hultkrantz suggests that “shaman” means one who can either enter a trance and “leave his own body” or “simply summon the spirits to him.” The Yuwipi rite thus belongs to “a very old, fixed shamanistic tradition” (46–47). Hultkrantz suggests that northeastern Woodland, Plains, Plateau, and Eskimo traditions represent a ceremonial “complex” that has “a common historical origin,” although tracing the “diffusion” of this complex is virtually impossible (48). Nonetheless, “the hypothesis of a rapid dissemination and a single origin is justified” (52). Hultkrantz claims that it is “useless to speculate about the place of this origin,” but apparently not to speculate about the idea of “a common origin” (55). The problem is that Yuwipi practitioners do not regularly experience any kind of (Eliadean) “ecstasy” (57), are not pathologically neurotic, do not typically enter a “trance,”16 do not routinely make a “heavenly journey” or “flight,” and are not “possessed” by “spirits.”17 Moreover, there is no verifiable way to trace the “diffusion” of the Yuwipi rite in ritual, cultural, and geographical terms while the imposition of Western vocabularic terms (“shamanism,” “séance,” “guardian spirits,” “tricks”) and slights (“the rope-binding trick”) serves mainly to undermine emic categories of ritual specialization while collapsing multiple cultures into an intellectually colonizing research topic, with “shamanism” becoming the catch-all categorical cipher for every non-Western, non-Eurocentric indigenous religious tradition and people on earth. CONCLUSION The anthropological study of the Lakota Yuwipi tradition originated within a colonialist project that was often complicit in affirming physical and cultural evolutionary theories, government oppression, ecclesiastical prejudices, and local expressions of racism that continue to negatively affect the Lakota people. While contemporary anthropologists have made significant strides in acknowledging the imperialistic agenda(s), derogatory terminology (“cult,” “show,” “séance”), cultural biases, as well as the epistemological presuppositions inherent in Western frameworks, I have suggested here that a postcolonial approach to the study of this tradition could facilitate greater understanding and appreciation for this specific religious tradition. A postcolonial approach could also inform wider discursive interests and help us move beyond the colonial project of (mis)classifying and categorizing Native phenomena, beyond Western theoretical frameworks that prejudge what is “observed,” beyond physical and cultural evolutionary theories of “primitivity,” and even beyond “inter-faith dialogue” and the theological colonization of the Other toward new horizons of reengagement, collaboration, understanding, appreciation, and respect. Second, I have suggested that the Lakota Yuwipi tradition is most explicable within its own ritual nexus of land, language, and community context(s) rather than when subject to “outsider” categorization and classification. The Yuwipi tradition illustrates the interconnectivity of this nexus of land, language, and community and requires that any explanation of Lakota religion be subject to how successfully it navigates the complex interplay of these interrelationships. Moreover, insofar as Yuwipi rites require Lakota-speaking ritual specialists who derive their power and authority from personal visions, ancestral relationships, and community reputations, the Yuwipi tradition serves as corrective to any tendency—whether within the Lakota community or among those who would “exploit” Lakota ceremonies—to export Lakota ritual knowledge beyond the cultural-communal, spatial, and linguistic boundaries of reservation life. If Yuwipi rites are oriented to a particular land, language, and community, then “Yuwipi” in both name and form may also best be understood in Lakota terms, where the Yuwipi wicasa or wapiye wicasa more clearly identifies the role and function of the Lakota specialist than Western pan-Indian terms like “healer,” “medicine man,” “holy man,” or “shaman.” Third, I have argued that, historically speaking, the Lakota Yuwipi ritual was initially encountered within a Christian theological framework that viewed it as “devil-worship,” that is, its “supernatural” phenomena were presumed to be real, albeit diabolical. By the late nineteenth century, American Indian religious traditions, and the Yuwipi ritual in particular, began to be understood within an anthropological framework that viewed it as a kind of “shamanism.” Beyond both theological frameworks and anthropologically reductive models, however, is an opportunity to revisit this Native American religious tradition, especially since Yuwipi practitioners continue to be important figures of Lakota ritual specialization, fulfilling multiple roles as spiritual leader, medical doctor, community counselor, and focal point of Lakota religious identity. Once demonized by an outdated theological worldview based on soteriological exclusivity and misrepresented by anthropologists as an antiquated superstitious throwback of primitive shamanism, the Yuwipi ritual specialist continues to embody multiple intersection(s) of Lakota religion, kinship, land, and community. The Yuwipi ritual is not a spectator event and the Yuwipi man is not a magician conducting a performance for private entertainment. While it is possible to “fake” some of this phenomena—and there have always been accusations of such deception—sincere participants are not supposed to attend Yuwipi rites to test the spirits or the Yuwipi practitioner, but rather to participate in prayer on behalf of those attending the ceremony. The purpose of Yuwipi is community health, help, and healing, not converting nonbelievers. For all the above reasons, researchers are encouraged to adopt a methodological position of epistemological humility in their experiential encounters with Lakota ritual practices. More work needs to be done, not only on the origin and history of the Yuwipi tradition, but in remembering the lives and careers of those who kept this tradition alive throughout the early reservation period.18 A collaborative archival research project could facilitate the preservation of the oral traditions and social memories of different Lakota communities and establish a Native library that sustains long-term interest in and understanding of the tradition. A post-Vatican II era of ecumenical dialogue in conjunction with postcolonial sensitivities and self-reflexivity provides us with unparalleled and unprecedented opportunities to better appreciate the cultural, spatial, and linguistically specific components of this tradition that both reveals and conceals the ties that bind Lakota families, extended tiospaye, and networks of kinship relations together. 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Today I am a scholar of religion with particular expertise in Christian origins, yet my participatory observation at over a dozen Yuwipi and Lowanpi ceremonies (with Douglas White, Earl Swift Hawk, Everett Poor Thunder, Marvin Helper, and Rick Gray Grass) certainly informs the present article. 3 The archives of the dialogues are held in the Special Collections and Archives section of Raynor Memorial Libraries, at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I would like to thank Mark Thiel, archivist in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives of Marquette University, for facilitating my access to this archive. 4 There have been no formal Protestant “dialogues” conducted with Yuwipi practitioners, despite the fact that the majority of non-Indians in the state of South Dakota are denominationally Protestant. See Gerhardt 1969 for missionary activity conducted between 1665 and 1965 and Sneve 1977 for a history of the Episcopal Church in South Dakota between 1859 and 1976. 5 Deloria (2006, 86–88) uses the subheading “Red Bird’s Yuwipi.” 6 Yuwipi practitioners have been almost exclusively men, but Delphine Red Shirt (2002, 25) relays how her great-grandmother, Turtle Lung Woman (1851–1935), was a Yuwipi woman. 7 On July 11, 1910, Chips purportedly told Walter M. Camp that “Tonhcha Hansha [Tonkce Hanska] (“Long Shit” or “Long Turd”) was Crazy Horse’s medicine man at the Little Bighorn” (Hardorff 1998, 85), yet Chips does not identify “Tonkce Hanska” [sic] as a Yuwipi practitioner. The original manuscript of this interview is held in the Walter Mason Camp papers, MSS 57 Box 4. Nineteenth Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. I would like to thank Rachel Maxwell at the reference desk for her assistance in obtaining a digital copy of this interview. 8 I would like to thank Larry Belitz for providing access to historical documentation of Charles Horn Chips’s tribal licenses issued in 1939, 1940, and 1943 under the authority of Ordinance No. 14 of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council. 9 Thomas Tyon’s original Lakota manuscripts are housed in the Dr. James R. Walker Collection (MSS #653), History Colorado, Denver, Colorado. I would like to thank Sarah Gilmor, reference librarian at the Stephen H. Hart Library & Research Center, History Colorado, for providing me with a PDF scan of Walker’s original typewritten Lakota manuscript. 10 Bolz 1986, 225: “Nach Thomas Tyon . . . hat dieses Ritual seinen Ursprung in einer Gesellschaft von ‘Rock dreamers,’ die als ‘Yuwipi society’ bezeichnet wurde.” 11 Buechel’s reference to yuwipi wasicun should not be confused with his description of yuwipi as “transparent stones,” since in this context wasicun refers to “any person or thing that is wakan, as tunkan—[wasicun], yuwipi—[wasicun],” that is, “a person or thing having or characterized by special powers resident in the universe and looked upon as a container or carrier of ton, i.e. that by which the person or thing is wakan; also, any object into which has been put ton by a person such as a wicasa wakan for his ceremonials” (Buechel 1970, 551). 12 Thomas Biolsi (1992, 134) states that “in January 1938 the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council unanimously enacted an ordinance which required medicine men and practitioners of the peyote religion and of yuwipi—a healing ceremony—to obtain a five-dollar license and to submit written descriptions of their ceremonies subject to approval by the council.” 13 Bucko (1998, 100) refers to Oglala Lakota “ethnognosticism” as a kind of intentional obscurantism: “When cultural information was transmitted to outsiders (particularly anthropologists), it was deliberately altered in order to protect the true tradition.” 14 In January 1958, Hurt (1960, 48) noted that his “informants could recall only 2 non-Indians who had previously been invited to a Yuwipi ceremony at Pine Ridge.” 15 See, for example, Bolz 1986, 226: “Die Yuwipi-Männer sind Schamanen, die ihre Macht, Kranke zu heilen, durch eine Vision erlangten.” 16 On the problematic notion of the so-called shamanic “trance,” see Hamayon 1993, 17–40. 17 Yuwipi practitioners are not “possessed” by “spirits.” Rather, the Yuwipi ritual specialist functions as an “interpreter” (iyéska), translator, or spokesperson for “spirits.” 18 I would like to thank Richard Moves Camp for our preliminary discussions toward a collaborative Lakota oral history project on the origins and history of Yuwipi on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. Personal communication, Wanblee, South Dakota, July 10, 2017. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of the American Academy of Religion – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 20, 2018
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