Home - Articles - 25 How the Sacred Pipe Came to the People

How the Sacred Pipe

Came to the People

Now Playing: 'To All My Relations'
By: Cody Sunbear Blackbird
From CD: Raven Speak
Contact Sitting Owl for a copy

The Story of 'White Buffalo Calf Woman' as found in:

‘The Bear Tribe’s Self Reliance Book’.

It is almost identical to the story found in

‘The Sacred Pipe’,

by Joseph Epes Brown as spoken by Black Elk.

(From: ‘Earth People’ Volume 3 Number 1)

Many winters ago, two young friends were out hunting in the time of the morning when the light first touches the earth.  As the first liquid rays descended, they touched a beautiful form and figure, standing on the path the young men would take.  It was a young woman of striking beauty, with her arms folded around a long bundle.

Seeing her, one of the men was struck with desire of the disrespectful sort, and made a couple of lewd comments to his companion, who immediately chastised him, saying, “Do not say such!  Surely she is a sacred person, coming to us in such a manner!”

She beckoned to the young man who had made the disrespectful comments, and grinning back at his companion, he swaggered towards her.  As he approached, a cloud descended and covered them from sight, and when it lifted, nothing was left of him but bones, which were being eaten by snakes of a vile aspect.  The other young man shuddered, for he knew that the snakes were the desires, which would eventually eat up all those who lived for the world of the senses alone.

Stepping forward, she said to him, “Always remember what you have seen on this day!  I have come to speak with your chief, Standing Hollow Horn; go to him and say that I have words of great importance for him.  He is to prepare a great lodge, and to gather all the people within.  There you and your people will wait for me.”

Speedily the messenger was transmitted, and the lodge, consisting of twenty-eight poles was soon raised.  One of these poles is the ‘key’, and upholds the rest.  In the ways of the Sioux people, this pole represents the Great Spirit, who sustains the universe, which is symbolised by the rest of the lodge.  The people, flushed and excited, soon were gathered together in the lodge, wondering who the mysterious woman was, and what she wished to say to them.

Some of the young men stationed themselves near the door of the tipi where they could keep watch, and shortly excitement rippled through them as the one at the door called, “There is a beautiful movement in the distance!” and then, suddenly, she was there.

Entering the lodge, she walked sun-wise around the fire, and stopped before Standing Hollow Horn.  She pulled forward the bundle which she had slung on her back, and holding it extended in her two hands, said, “Behold this and always love it!  It is very sacred medicine, and no one who is not holy and pure must be allowed to touch it.  Within is a pipe, and with this pipe you and your descendants will send your prayers to the Great Spirit.”

She then unrolled the bundle and removed the pipe and a small stone, which she placed on the ground.  Uplifting the pipe to the sky, she said, “In this way with this pipe shall you walk upon the Earth, your Grandmother and Mother.  Every step should be a prayer, and always remember that She is sacred!  The bowl of this pipe is of her blood and bones; it is a red stone, as red as the blood of your heart.  Carved in the stone and facing the centre is a buffalo calf, who stands for all the four-leggeds of the Earth.  The twelve Eagle feathers hanging here where the bowl joins the stem are from the Spotted Eagle, and thus are all the people of the air represented here also.  The stem, which is wooden, stands for all that grows upon the Earth, and so, when you join your voices with the smoke of the pipe, do all these things pray with you.  In this joining of all your prayers will your voices reach Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, and so you will pray with and for everything when you smoke this pipe."

She then reached downward and touched the foot of the pipe to the stone which lay on the ground, and said, “This pipe joins you to all your relatives, your Grandfather and Father, your Mother and Grandmother.  This round red rock which is also given to you by the Great Spirit is the good red earth upon which you shall flourish and multiply.  The Earth is red, and the two-leggeds are red… you have a red day and a red road.  Those who walk in the Path of the Great Spirit will walk the good red road from the place of the source of Life to the place of Wisdom, which are represented by South and North.  Only those who are interested in Material gains and in gratifying their senses will travel the black road of destruction, which runs East to West, and goes nowhere.  To travel in the Circle of Life you must always strain to travel upwards, and not to be content with travelling the level path.  Do not forget, for all this is sacred!  Every dawn is sacred, and every day… all who move upon the Mother are sacred… you must remember this!”

“Onward from this day will the pipe stand upon the earth, and with it will the people send the sweet smoke with their songs and prayers upward to the Great Spirit.  Remember and be grateful, Standing Hollow Horn; you must be good to your people and to these gifts.  Remember always that you have seven days with which to pray to the Great Spirit as long as you live.”

She turned to leave, but turned back and said, “Behold this pipe!  Never forget that it is sacred.  In me are four ages, and I will look back on my people in each age, and in the end I will return.  Always remember how sacred the pipe is, and treat it as such, for it will carry you to the end.”

And walking sun-wise, she departed from the lodge.  After walking a little way she sat down, and the people rubbed their eyes, for where she had been was now a young red and brown buffalo calf rising from her place.  After a few more steps, the calf lay down and rolled on her back, and rose up a white buffalo.  Once more she walked a few steps and rolled, and this time she became a black buffalo, which walked a few paces, bowed to the four winds of the world, and disappeared over the hill.

The Sacred Pipe.

By Bear MedicineWalker..

Most of the Peoples Nations have stories about the 'Sacred Pipe', many of you may think of it as a Peace Pipe. Hollywood has glamorized the pipe through old western movies. Yet they could not be farther from the truth. The Sacred Pipe is to the Native American People as the cross would be to Christian cultures. The pipe, in many forms is prevalent in most tribal cultures around the world. Every Nation has used the pipe in some form of ritual and have passed the stories of where the pipe came from. One of the more well known is the Lakota story of the White Buffalo Woman bringing and sharing wisdoms with them.

It is not important how the pipe first arrived, or who it came to first. What is important is that the pipe is revered as a sacred item and was a gift handed to us by The Creator. The Sacred Pipe was brought to all people of this world, for we all must share this world, as one race ...the Human race This story is from the T'salagi and shows the importance once again of the Pipe as means to Prayer, Balance and healing.

At a time when the world was new, a tribe of red skinned people came to live on the lands around The Blue Smoke Mountains. This is a time animals of the world still spoke to all of us teaching us how to live and care for the land. These people were called "Ani Yun Wiya" or the One True People. In this tribe lived a brave warrior woman. She was called 'Arrow Woman'. As a young woman she was taught to use the bow, the spear and the knife. Even though it was a man's job to hunt and fight, Arrow Woman could shoot straighter with the bow than any man. She could throw the knife so as to split a branch no bigger than your thumb and she could throw the spear into the eye of a hawk in flight. Because of all this, no one would tell her to act like a woman should be within the tribe.

One day while on a hunt, Arrow Woman came upon the tracks of "Yona" the bear. She saw blood on the ground and knew him to be wounded, so she followed his tracks high into the mountains. Soon she came to a place that she did not know. It was at this place, a place known only to the animals that she finally saw "Yona" the bear. He had a deep gash in his side. As she watched him, he bowed down in prayer. She saw him bowing toward a large field of tall grass and speaking words that she had not heard before. Suddenly, the grass shimmered and became a lake. Arrow Woman saw "Yona" the bear, dive into the water. After a time he emerged from the water, his side was completely healed. 

"Yona" the bear looked up and saw Arrow Woman walking towards her, he spoke, "This is the sacred lake of the animals. It is called, 'Atagahi' and it's location is known only to the animals. It is where we come for healing and strength. You are the first human to see the Sacred Lake. You must never tell your kind of it's location for it is the home of 'The Great Uktena'. After speaking to her "Yona" the Bear turned and walked into the woods and disappeared.

Arrow Woman sat and contemplated all that had occurred. Yet she was tired from following "Yona" all day and needed to rest a while. So she built a small fire next to the lake, and sitting down she began to prepare a meal that she had brought with her. She reached over and took a drink of the water from the lake as she did Arrow Woman felt instantly refreshed. Amazed, she felt strong as Yan'si the Buffalo, and as if she could run faster than Coga the Raven could fly. The woods were quiet, the Sacred Winds where sleeping, Father Sun was shining bright, the surface upon the lake was completely calm, Arrow Woman began to get sleepy.

It was at this time that 'Uktena' appeared to her. As a child she had been told of him yet no one in her tribe ever claimed to have seen him. High above the water he raised his great serpent's head, the jewel in his forehead glistening. He began to move toward her. Arrow Woman grabbed up her spear and stood up to face the great creature coming to her, standing proud, showing no fear, the way any warrior should. She raised her spear and prepared to strike the huge beast.

Uktena stopped a short distance from her. He smiled at her, showing his fierce rows of teeth he began speaking to the brave woman on the bank of his lake, "Put down your weapons for I mean you no harm. I come only to teach." Arrow Woman laid down her spear and began to relax, somehow knowing Uktena spoke truly.

Uktena told her to sit and to listen. He then dipped his head below the surface and came back up a moment later. In his mouth he had a strangely crooked stick and a leather pouch. These things he laid on the ground in front of Arrow Woman. Then the teaching began.

"This that I have laid before you is the Sacred Pipe of The Creator. Pick up the pipe. The bowl is of the same red clay The Creator used to make your kind. The red clay is Woman kind and is from the Earth. Just as a woman bears the children and brings forth life, the bowl bears the sacred tobacco and brings forth smoke. The stem is Man. Rigid and strong the stem is from the plant kingdom and like a man it supports the bowl just as man supports his family."

He then showed Arrow Woman how to join the bowl to the stem saying, " Just as a man and a woman remain separate until joined in marriage so too are the bowl and stem separate. Never to be joined unless the pipe is used." Uktena then showed her how to place the sacred tobacco into the pipe and with an ember from the fire lit it so it burned slightly. He then spoke these words, "The smoke is the breath of The Creator, When you draw the smoke into your body, you will be cleansed and made whole. When the smoke leaves your mouth, it will rise to The Creator. Your prayers, your dreams, your hopes and desires will be taken to Him in the smoke. Also the truth in your soul will be shown to Him when you smoke the pipe. If you are not true, do not smoke the pipe. If your spirit is bad and you seek to deceive, do not smoke the pipe."

Uktena continued his lesson well into the night teaching Arrow Woman all of the prayers used with the pipe and all of the reasons for using the pipe. He finished just as the moon was beginning her nightly journey across the sky in search of her true love. He told Arrow Woman to wrap the pipe in cloth, keeping the parts separate. With this done He told her that she would never again be able to find this place but to remember all that she had learned. Uktena then returned to the depths of the lake. Arrow Woman saw the water shimmer and become again the field of grass. She left, taking with her the pipe and her lessons and a wondrous tale. Ever since that time, The People have used the sacred pipe and never again has any man seen the sacred lake of Uktena.

The Sacred Pipe is not a symbol of things that are sacred. The Pipe itself is sacred. Not everyone is called upon to be a pipe bearer. The person who carries the pipe and practices the pipe ceremonies and traditions has a great responsibility to his brothers and sisters, his land and country and to the Great Earth Mother.

The pipe bearer does not 'own' the pipe that they carry. They simply carry the pipe until the time comes for them to pass it to the next bearer. The pipe bearer is given certain powers of sight from the pipe as well as an ability to heal and purify. Should the bearer fall from grace and become a liar, thief, neglected their duties when asked, or become deceitful, the pipe would repossess these gifts and then the possibility of misfortune for the former bearer may exist.

One should be ready to accept the responsibility of the pipe for it may make demands upon you. It will become your teacher and guide. It can also be your worst enemy if used for the wrong purposes.

Chanunpa, the Sacred Pipe, white buffalo pipe..

Next Article (#26)
Previous Article (#24)



Top of Page



If you would like to make a donation to Sitting Owl
please use the contact button to discuss how.

Contact Sitting Owl

Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Detection Software