from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A religious ceremony widely practiced among Native American peoples of the Great Plains, typically marked by several days of fasting and group dancing and sometimes including ritual self-torture, as in penance or to induce a trance or vision.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a ceremonial dance performed by Amerindians at the summer solstice


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  • The Sun Dance is a ceremony practiced by a number of Native Americans. Each tribe has its own distinct rituals and methods of performing the dance, but many of the ceremonies have features in common, including dancing, singing, praying, drumming, the experience of visions, fasting, and in some cases piercing of the chest or back. The object of being pierced is to sacrifice one's self to the Great Spirit, and to pray while connected to the Tree of Life, a direct connection to the Great Spirit. Though only some Nations' Sun Dances include the piercings, the Canadian Government outlawed some of the practices of the Sun Dance in 1880, and the United States government followed suit in 1904. However, the ceremony is now again fully legal (since Jimmy Carter's presidency in the United States) and is still practiced in the United States and Canada.


    February 19, 2008