Seven Lakota Rites

Presentation of the Pipe & Rites

As legend states, long ago, the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman came to Earth and gave the Lakota people a Sacred Pipe and a small round stone.

These gifts were to be used in the first rite: Wanáǧi YuhápiKeeping of the Soul. She taught them this first rite and stated there will be six other rituals later revealed to them, including:

  • InípiRite of Purification
  • HaŋbléčheyapiCrying for a Vision
  • Wiwáŋyaŋg WačhípiSundance
  • HuŋkálowaŋpiMaking of Relatives
  • Išnáthi AwíčhalowaŋpiA Girl’s Coming of Age
  • Tȟápa Waŋkáyeyapi Throwing of the Ball

Each of the seven rites contained a common element — the smoking of the Sacred Pipe.

After presenting the gifts and teachings, the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman left the people saying,

“There will be four ages, and I will look in on you once each age. At the end of the four ages, I will return.”

As she left, she changed from a beautiful woman into a black buffalo. Her coat then changed to red, and then to yellow, until finally changing to white. She then disappeared into the clouds.

The bowl of the pipe she gave the Lakota people was made of red stone, representing the Earth. A buffalo head was carved on the pipe, symbolizing all of the four-legged animals that roam the earth. The pipe’s stem was made of wood, representing nature. Twelve eagle feathers hung from the place where the bowl joined the stem; this symbolized all the birds.

The round stone was made out of the same red earth as the pipe and had seven circles on it, representing the seven rites.

When a Lakota person smokes a sacred pipe, his or her voice is sent to Wakȟáŋ TȟáŋkaThe Great Spirit.


The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, recorded and edited by Joseph Epes Brown.

The Gift of the Sacred Pipe, Based on Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux, recorded and edited by Joseph Epes Brown. Edited and Illustrated by Vera Louise Drysdale.