Sunday, November 25, 2012

Native American Heritage Month: Jesus as Sun Dancer

Sundancer Christ by Fr. John Giuliani
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, I am reposting parts of an Easter-themed article by Rich Avery titled "Good Friday – Jesus the Greatest Sun Dancer."  The article (and the accompanying video by Pastor Larry Salway) offer an interesting contextualized view of Jesus and the Sun Dance, a ritual ceremony performed by Native American Plains Nations.  Avery writes:

Most Native North American people groups have a story of how their people were created, and this story has been passed down orally for hundreds or thousands of years. 
And many have a story of a Messiah-like figure who will sacrifice himself in order to deliver or bring greater enlightenment to their people. But few make the connection to Jesus Christ as both their Creator and Messiah. 
The Lakota, and other nations of the Plains, have a ritual called the Sun Dance, where men will punish or sacrifice themselves by piercing their body or tearing their flesh in order to hopefully bring about a closer connection to Creator – not only for themselves but for their entire community.

Sun dancers prepare four to eight days with fasting and prayer, and then have bear claws inserted into their chest or back muscles. These claws are attached by ropes to a central pole.  The participants dance around the pole until their flesh tears away from the claws.  "The flesh offering is given to the Creator as a part of a prayer to benefit a person’s family and community" (

The accompanying video link by Pastor Larry Salway "helps Lakota people see the cultural connection between what the Lakota Sun Dancer hopes to accomplish by punishing his body, and what Jesus accomplished, once and for all, through his death and resurrection."

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That was powerful. I think I'll share the video!