Fort Peck Journal News
Volume: 2008, Issue 7: 2008-02-14
Written by Louis Montclair
Through the canupa (pipe) will the Sioux nation survive hard times to come, said two Lakota speakers who came to Fort Peck this week.

Jake Arapaho, of Pine Ridge, S.D., and Jason Charger, of Cheyenne River, S.D., are on the Fort Peck Reservation this week as part of what they call spreading the message throughout Indian Country.

According to Charger, their message of healing and culture will be very important for hard times to come because it will unite the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people again.

[Our message is to] create healing through the canupa for future generations, Charger said.

The two men travel through Indian Country spreading that message of hope and peace at all places they visit.

It all started in Green Grass, S.D. home of the sacred white buffalo calf pipe - and from there it spread to all neighboring reservations and soon reached tribes in other states, Charger said.

In the prophecies through the elders many years ago, they spoke of hard times that would fall upon people, which could be anything, he said. It will make the people come together, he said.

Speaking at a gathering at the Greet the Dawn Building in Poplar, Arapaho said that there are many reasons they came to Fort Peck, one of them being the misuse of the Lakota way of life.

We are people of mother earth and its our responsibility to take care of mother earth, Arapaho said.

One of the misuses he spoke of was the use of the canupa and the devastating effects it can have. There are laws that you have to walk and obey to carry the canupa and some people who do so are only hurting their own people.

When he was younger, Arapaho said that he had arteries that were 65 percent clogged. He was big then, and he had an uncle who was bigger than him, but had a perfect bill of health.

Arapaho was going to go to the hospital but his uncle warned him against it, saying that white doctors test their drugs on Indian people. He remembered that his father was given some pills years ago that ate holes in his kidneys and because of that, he was on dialysis for years until he died.

Instead, his uncle told him to go to the traditional canupa and inipi ceremony, which he attributed to the reason he had good health. At the inipi ceremony, he said that he felt something that was like a jolt of electricity hit his heart.

After the ceremony, he was told to go to the white doctors for an examination.

When he went, they told him they were going to put a balloon in his veins to remove the clogs in his arteries. But when they checked, he said they found no problems in his arteries or heart.

If you follow your ways, you will be around for years to come, Arapaho said.

In several other ceremonies after that, different spirits told him the same thing: the canupa ceremony is a root that is getting soft and smaller. He asked them how to make the root strong and hard again, and they told him they must get people together, and unity will make it better.

That was when Charger and Arapaho started traveling Indian Country spreading the message of the canupa.

According to Lakota culture, long ago the White Buffalo Woman appeared to the people and gave them a pipe and bundle. Looking Horse is the man that the pipe is entrusted to today.

The sacred pipe is still with the Looking Horse family in Green Grass, S.D., the site where the pipe was given to the Lakota people. Today it is considered one of the holiest sites for the Lakota people.

Charger and Arapaho met when Arapaho received a call from Looking Horse one day, telling him to come to his home right away. Though it was a three hour drive, he made it there and seen a busted window in his trailer and no food in the house. He went to town and later he went into a sweat and met Charger. It was during a sweat in Green Grass they were told to spread the message of the canupa throughout Indian Country.

Arapaho said that there are many rumors going around about Looking Horse that are not true, such as that he sold the sacred pipe or he buried it somewhere.

Another reason they came to Fort Peck was to seek help for Looking Horse, who is currently having a very rough time all around. People dont know what he has to go through to make ends meet, Charger said. As Lakota Dakota people, its our responsibility to help him.

If the pipe keeper has hardships and dies, then the White Buffalo Calf pipe could also go away, Charger said.

Its through the pipe that we can change our future and reunite as a nation. Its only when we stand together that we can heal and move forward to a better future, he said.

But first, they must reach the young people.

One of the consequences of forgetting the traditional ways of the canupa ceremony is jealousy, hatred, and backstabbing, Arapaho said.

Charger said he encourages all people on Fort Peck to attend the Sundance at Green Grass and learn what he learned when he was there.

The canupa can bring peace to the Sioux people. The canupa is the key to healing, and the man who turns that key is Looking Horse.

The canupa ceremony can help people, but for it to help the people, there has to be a change, and part of that change must also be helping the current sacred pipe carrier with his troubles.

Looking Horse does need help, and thats one of the reasons they came to Fort Peck - to seek help of the Fort Peck people. Its everyones responsibility as a pipe carrier and as Lakota Dakota Nakota people to help Looking Horse, since the pipe was given to the Sioux people.

Before they left, they told the people who braved the cold weather that they would be back sometimes this year to reaffirm their message with the Fort Peck people.

If you would like to help Looking Horse, contact Charger at 1 (605) 964-4526 or (605) 200-0003. Arapaho can be reached at (650) 441-9886.

Article Database: Volume 2008 Issue 7: February 14, 2008

Thank you Stephanie M. Schwartz ( )
for passing this on to us to share with others.