Lakota tribal members from the Pine Ridge Reservation are taking part in a four-day Trail Ride from Wanblee to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
The ride is a spiritual journey to call attention to the planned Keystone XL pipeline.
“Sunka Wakan” – literally, “Sacred Dog” – is the Lakota name for the horse. Before its arrival, the dog was the primary animal of the Lakota. Since the horse entered the Great Plains culture, it’s been viewed by the Lakota as a sacred gift from the Creator.
Percy White Plume says the Lakota regularly take part in Trail Rides as spiritual offerings for a cause.
“To the Lakota people, the horse has always been a part of who they are,” White Plume explains. “We look into history and you’ll find that the…some of the armies that pursued the Native people couldn’t believe the riding abilities of Native people on horseback. And that’s a part of who we are. So, how else to make an awareness…and bring about more awareness is to do it on horseback.”
White Plume adds that the entire ride is taking place along public roadways.
“We want it to be as visible as possible,” says White Plume. “And it’s not a protest ride as you would say everybody’s carrying signs and everybody’s, you know, giving mean looks…anything like that. We want people to know that this is a peaceful ride. We’re riding with prayers, we’re riding with good thoughts.”
The riders are traveling from Wanblee, through the Badlands to Phillip and then to the Takini School on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
White Plume says extra horses are being brought along for those who’d like to take part in the ride but are without a mount.