Near the end of the Sibbald Lake on Sibbald Flat, across the field from Stop 9 on the Sibbald Flat Trail, reside skeletons of structures created predominantly from poplar and willow branches. This is the site of The Sun Dance Ceremony which took place here in June of 1984. I approach on a faint trail in the grassland and enter at the historical plaque placed here to explain and commemorate the spiritual ceremony.
An excellent article on Sibbald Flat can be accessed at a page called Speechless. I found it very informative and revealing from a unique and individual perspective.
The faint trail, through grass, passes a structure that has collapsed. A short distance further, the remnants of the Sweat Lodge and another shelter still remain remarkably intact after 27 years. In spite of their open exposure to the elements and a rugged winter, they have not changed a lot since my hike here last year to Deer Ridge and Eagle Hill.
I walk a circuitous route around the Sweat Lodge for photographs of the structure which remains stubbornly intact. It is a spiritual place to the Nakoda-Stoney people and I maintain respect for this very special location. Colorful cloth on the branches is reminiscent of Tibetan prayer flags.
An additional structure hosts a present day fire pit and arches of willow branches clearly define its original identity.
The site, on this warm, sunny day is a reminder of the spiritual bond each of us is entitled to experience and enjoy. Even this brief visit conjures up images of the celebration hosted here in the summer of 1984. It is a good experience for me and, with reluctance, I leave to make my way home to Calgary. At the religious site I leave nothing but footprints and take away only photographic memories to share with you.
If someone from the Stoney Nation finds this post, I would be very interested in learning more about this religious Sun Dance Ceremony. I believe many of my readers would be interested as well. Modern society has a lot to learn about our relationship with nature. Please leave a comment.