Altar for Hunka Ceremony.
DAKOTA (SANTEE) Anonymous (aka Dakota Sioux Anonymous; Eastern Sioux Anonymous)
19th c Native American Dakota (Santee) Applied Arts
(active 1640 - present)
Skull; hair; wood
Great Plains. United States.
New York. American Museum of Natural History.
Medicine men were involved in creating altars like this one, which was designed by the Dakota Sioux, for the Hunka ceremony. The altar contains a buffalo skull, for it was designed to bring back the buffalo, the mainstay of their traditional way of life. In addition to the buffalo skull, the altar contained a drying rack with a Tree of Life, representing the earth's center, a common mythological motif. Many shaman's visions describe climbing the tree to the heavens, and the "pole which touches the sky" was central to many Native American traditions. The Northwest Pacific Coast story of the first totem pole refers to it as the "pole that holds up the sky", and many of the dances done by Native American peoples take place around a central pole.
DAKOTA (SANTEE) Anonymous | Altar for Hunka Ceremony. | 19 c | Native American | Dakota (Santee)