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The Sun-Dance with Little Black Crow and Jack Rabbit

An American Indian Legend - Nation Unknown

One day Little Black Crow was perched on a limb as the wise old Jack Rabbit came hoping down the trail.

Little Crow said to Jack Rabbit, "Hey, where are you going?" Jack Rabbit said, "I am going to the Sun-Dance. Would you like to go with me?" Little Crow replied, "No thank you, the Sun-Dance is about religion and its not for me."

Jack Rabbit replied, "No Little Crow, the Sun-Dance is about a way of life". Little Black Crow thought about this and agreed to accompany Jack Rabbit.

Before going to a Sun-Dance, everyone must go into a Inipi Oolowan (sweat lodge). A sweat lodge is a small domed-shaped hut made of willow saplings. All sorts of animals, birds and humans sit on Mother Earth around a pit dug in the center. Special stones are heated red hot in a fire built outside the sweat lodge and brought inside by the Fire Keeper. Once many red hot stones are carried inside the sweat lodge and placed in the dirt pit, the door is closed tight where no light can be seen.

Sitting in blackness of the sweat lodge, Little Black Crow and Jack Rabbit listened as a loud hissing sound began to fill the darkness as a medicine man poured cool water in the dirt pit on the hot stones. Several minutes passed as the hissing sound grew louder and hot steam filled the small lodge.

Little Black Crow loudly whispered to his friend, "Jack Rabbit it is hot in here!" Soon everyone gathered around the circle began to sing, except Little Crow who did not know the strange songs. As they sang the hot steam continued to form a thick cloud and the heat was nearly unbearable for Little Black Crow. To his relief, the door opened and he quickly scampered outside. Jack Rabbit then told his friend, "Oh, I forgot to tell you we must do this four times."

Little Black Crow did not think he would survive in the cramped, dark and stifling heat of the sweat lodge. But after the last round, Little Crow gratefully poured himself outside the lodge and joined all the other animals, birds and humans on their way to the Sun-Dance.

Deep in the forest along the path to the Sun-Dance, they meet Brown Badger who gives Little Black Crow a tiny pair of moccasins so he can dance during ceremonies. Next, they meet Gray Otter who gives Little Crow an eagle bone whistle so he can call Grandfather Thunder during the Sun-Dance.

Finally, late at night they arrive at the dance grounds where many humans and creatures of all sorts have gathered. After a restful night of sleep, dance ceremonies began at sunrise with the sounds of singing and many drums pounding out a hypnotic beat as eagles and hawks flew in circles above.

Little Black Crow awoke with a startle at the sound of the loud drums and said, "Hey, what is going on? The sun is barely up yet!" Jack Rabbit said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you ceremonies go from sunrise to sunset."

Ho! Pita Wamblii, Ho! Pita Wamblii, Ho! Pita Wamblii, Ho! Pita Wamblii they sang from sun-up to sun-down. As the day passed and evening descended upon the gathering, Little Black Crow complained to his friend, Jack Rabbit, "I am hungry, it is time to find some food." Jack Rabbit looked at his little friend and said, "I am sorry Little Crow, I forgot to tell you there will be no food for four days and nights."

Little Crow wondered if he could survive the Sun-Dance, but he loved the singing, drumming and dancing. Then he told his companion, "O.k. no food, but how about some water?, I am thirsty." Jack Rabbit says, "Oh, I forgot to tell you something. There will be no water for four days." Fear struck Little Black Crow as he knew survival would be difficult.

"I told you that I did not believe in this religious stuff," said Little Black Crow. "No, no," replied Jack Rabbit. "This is not religion, it is a way of life!"

The second day goes by with all the singers singing and the drummers drumming. Little Crow goes to sleep trying to escape the hunger and thirst.

The third day the singers are singing and the drummers are drumming. The dancers are dancing. Then everyone sleeps.

Finally, the most important day of the ceremonies arrives. On the forth day the humans, animals and birds will make a sacrifice of courage and Jack Rabbit will tell why there is a Sun-Dance. By this time, Little Black Crow is weak, hungry, thirsty and frightened. But, he very much enjoyed the singing and dancing.

Regardless of this, Little Crow shows great courage and completes the Sun-Dance. Then with great ceremony, Jack Rabbit speaks.

"Aho, my friends! There was a time long ago when all the animals, birds and humans all lived together and talked to each other. Now, that time is going away. It is sad. That is one reason why we perform the Sun-Dance. So, we will not lose this gift of talking and living together."

With that and many more things said, Little Black Crow became very happy! He was jumping around and spinning in circles as he yelled, "Now I can talk to humans!"

Jack Rabbit walked slowly to his friend and said, " Oh, I forgot to tell you something. You must first Sun-Dance four times, once a year before you can talk to humans."

After the Sun-Dance there was a great feast. As Little Black Crow was busy eating and drinking to his heart's content, humans, birds and other animals gathered around Jack Rabbit. Someone asked, "Do you think Little Black Crow will come to the Sun-Dance next year?"

Jack Rabbit looked at them all and said, "Yes! He has good singers and good drummers!

"Ho! Pita Wamblii!!"

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