Sunise Crow Sun Dance

The Spirit of the Elders Lives on
The 2-DVD Documentary Set

Sun Dance Lodge Shoshone Sweatlodge Center Pole Ceremony Crow Sundancers

Documentary and Special Features Details


Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way

Native Spirit & The Sun Dance Way are two unique documentaries contained in a 2-DVD set .

Native Spirit Documnetary
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Native Spirit – 44 minutes

As the Plains Indians were hunted down and driven onto government reservations, their spiritual and cultural traditions were threatened with extinction. The American government sought to not only physically contain the Indians, but more importantly, to forcibly destroy their culture and spiritual traditions. The brutal attempt to destroy the Indians centuries old way of life took a terrible toll.

Nevertheless, the spirit of the elders was strong and the traditions were secretly preserved and survived despite the ruthless tactics used by the U.S. government.

Native Spirit movingly tells the history that many Americans would prefer to forget, and poignantly conveys a story many Americans have never heard: the story of the ultimate triumph of the Native Spirit.

The Sun Dance Way Documentary
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The Sun Dance Way – 57 minutes

This is the story of a remarkable preservation of an ancient sacred ceremony. The Sun Dance still remains at the center of today’s Plains Indian tribes despite a government bent on its destruction. In this documentary, the ceremony is described in the words of Thomas Yellowtail, a revered Sun Dance Chief of the Crow Indian Tribe for over thirty years. Yellowtail s first person account is brought to life by the narration of internationally known Native Peoples actor, Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall ). Yellowtail's words provide a first hand account of the symbolism and meaning at the heart of the Sun Dance. Unique photographs and video footage of more than 15 Crow and Shoshone Sun Dances, from as far back as 1903, reveal the mystical beauty of this ancient sacred ceremony. The Sun Dance Way provides a message of inspiration to Native and non-Native people everywhere. For as Yellowtail wrote, “Once you know about these things, you will also love them, because you will see that without a sense of the sacred, you are less than a man.”


Special Features
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DVD Special Features – approx. 90 minutes

The 90 minutes of special features on this 2-Disc DVD are rich in content and importance.

Other rites of the Sun Dance Religion are revealed and explained in the words of Sun Dance Chief, Thomas Yellowtail, and narrated by Gordon Tootoosis (Legends of the Fall).
There are individual segments on each of the following…

Sweat Lodge – “When a person has the proper intention and observes all of the rules, the sweat lodge purifies the person not only on the outside, but also throughout his inner being.”

Vision Quest – “When a person is on a vision quest, he must have certain attitudes and intentions for his prayers to be sincere, and then he must carry these over into his daily life.  If you participate because you know the purpose of the rites and you want to express your gratitude and love of the sacred ways, then you may eventually receive a great reward.”

Prayer with the Pipe -  “The presence of the pipe, the preparation for its use, and the prayers that are offered through its smoke, hold a central position in the daily life of a traditional Indian. The pipe is the sacred form that was given to us for our prayers, but it is the smoke that offers the prayer. “

Yellowtail Biography This feature takes an in-depth look at the intriguing life of Thomas Yellowtail whose words make up the narration of The Sun Dance Way. The viewer learns how Yellowtail’s earliest years spent on government reservations formed his character and encouraged his eventual life as a Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief.

Conversations with the Elders- Prominent tribal elders and spiritual leaders from the Sioux, Crow, Shoshone, Salish and Apache tribes offer their insights and advice on how to preserve the sacred wisdom and culture of their people while “living in two worlds.”
Images from 2-DVD Set

Luther Standing Bear

“Regarding the “civilization” that has been thrust upon me since the days of the reservation, it has not added one whit to my sense of justice; to my reverence for the rights of life; to my love for truth , honesty, and generosity; nor to my faith in Wakan Tanka – God of the Lakotas…”
Standing Bear, Oglala Lakota.

Chief Plenty Coups

"Their (white man's) wise ones said the we may have their religion, but when we tried to understand it we found that there were too many kinds of religion among white men for us to understand, and that scarcely any two white men agreed which was the right one to learn. This bothered us a good deal until we saw that the white man did not take his religion any mroe seriously than he did his laws, and teh he kept both of them just behind him, like helpers, to use when they might do him good in his dealings with strangers. These were not our ways. We kept the laws we made and lived our religion. We have never been able to understand the white man, who fools nobody but himself".
Chief Plenty Coups - Absaroke

Red Cloud

"Hear me my friends, for it is not the time for me to tell you a lie. The Great Spirit made us, the Indians, and gave us the land we live in. He gave us the buffalo, the antelope and the deer for food and clothing... We fought our enemies and feasted our friends. Our old men talked with spirits and made good medicine. Our young men herded the horses and made love to the girls. Where the tipi was, there we stayed and no houe imprisoned us. No one said, "To this line is my land, to that is yours." In this way our fathers lived and were happy..."
Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota

Black Elk

"Perhaps the most important reason for lamenting (vision quest) is that it helps us to realize our oneness with all things, to know that all things are our relatives; and then in behalf of all things we pray to Wakan Tanka that He may give us knowledge of Him who is the source of all things, yet greater than all things."
Black Elk - Oglala Lakota


Lodge at Sunrise

Pow Wow Male


Pow Wow Female

Dancers 1st Night

Entire Tribe

Mother and Child





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