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Lakota Amulet Pouches

The Lakota (Teton or Western Sioux) are one of three groups of the Sioux Confederacy of Native Americans (Indians) distinguished by their languages: Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota. The Lakota live on five reservations in the north central states of North Dakota and South Dakota in the USA. Many have also moved into American cities.

They have a developed religion with a deep interest in the symbols and meanings of the stars. Among the constellations or groups of stars they recognize are the turtle (Keya) and the lizard or salamander (Agleska). In each constellation lives the spirit of that animal.

A Lakota pouch made to carry the umbilical cord of a boy. The lizard is considered to be especially able to take care of himself because if chased it can lose its tail and grow another one later.

Photo courtesy of John Sumerlin

The turtle amulet pouch carries the umbilical cord of a baby girl. The turtle represents safety because of its hard shell and long life because they do live a long time.

Photo courtesy of John Sumerlin

A priest will pray to the Creator to give baby girls the qualities of the turtle through the Turtle Spirit, things like long life and strength. He will also pray so that the lizard spirit will give the qualities of a lizard (speed and the ability to change, among them) to baby boys.

Before a baby is born, its mother makes two beaded pouches, one shaped like a turtle and the other like a lizard. When the baby is born, its umbilical cord is placed inside one of them, the turtle for a girl and the lizard for the boy.

The umbilical cord connects the baby with its mother while inside the mother. After the baby is born it is cut and tied, leaving the navel (the belly button) on the baby.

Most people throw this little bit of tissue away, but the Lakota place them in the pouch the mother made for them and they keep them all their lives. When they die, they are buried with them.

The following web site pages were used in preparing this page:
And thanks to John Sumerlin.


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