In May, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the Sacred Bundle issued a statement that sundances should not occur this year due to the pandemic.
“The C’anupa was brought here for the health and well-being of our Nation. If someone ignores these warnings of large gatherings, it will be a challenge that is not of good intention or outcome,” wrote Looking Horse as he emphasized the importance of keeping relatives safe.
“Many of the Oyate that come to ceremony are not in good health and need prayers. It’s not right to infect others to pray, when prayer can be safe at your homes right now,” he said.
In March, Looking Horse led four days of prayer and the lighting of a sacred fire at the powwow grounds in Eagle Butte. At the time, the Keeper asked that people not share the canupa (pipe) as they normally would due to risk of spreading germs and illness. Instead, he advised people to “touch shoulders” with the canupa.
In late May, Looking Horse announced, “out of respect for the Oyate, we are not having a wi wang wac’i at Green Grass. I have asked the dancers to stay home and pray with their family.”
Looking Horse has called for a World Day of Prayer which will begin June 18 and last until Sunday, June 21.
The prayer gathering will be shared virtually “so we may continue to bring attention to the protection of sacred sites throughout the world, while honoring the precautions set forth by medical professionals,” stated Looking Horse on his website worldpeaceandprayer.com.
If individuals choose to host a sacred fire, the Keeper reminded everyone that the “most important principle is to promote the health and safety of all participants, but especially our elders who may be at the highest risk.”
Looking Horse advised those gathering at their respective locations to wear masks and to maintain social distance.
Furthermore, if individuals choose to light sacred fires, the fires may not be photographed or filmed once lit and must be maintained throughout the night.
If fires cannot be lit, candles would be acceptable, said Looking Horse.
Online coverage of speakers, dancers, and songs would be listed on the World Peace and Prayer Day Facebook page.