In the early hours of Monday, 7th June 2010, this year’s Sun Dance attendants erected the first teepee. Others soon followed it and the little camp grew rapidly.
At the same time, an arbor was erected, a fire-pit was dug and an inipi (sweat lodge) was constructed in the traditional manner of the Lakota people.
Tuesday was ‘tree day’ – bushy pine trees were cut and placed around the arbor frame, leaving the eastern gate open so that the rays of the rising sun could enter unhindered. Finally, the tree of life, a tall birch with a single fork was selected by the elders and ceremoniously cut down. Many willing hands caught the tree as it came down and carried it to the trailer on which it would be transported to the Sun Dance grounds.
Once the tree arrived there, those same willing hands raised it in an effort that surpassed the flag raising on Iwo Jima.
The dancers settled into their teepee and the fire, which would burn for the duration of the ceremony, was lit.
In the morning, before the sun rose, the dancers entered the inipi, cleansed their bodies and prepared to dance to the sound of a drum and the traditional songs. Solemnly they entered the arbor through the eastern gate and began their dance that would not cease until the sun had traversed the sky and touched the western horizon. They finished the day with another ceremonial cleansing and then retired for the night, denying themselves food and water.
This was repeated for the following two days, culminating on the fourth day with their final sacrifice.