Brave Heart is part of the Protect the Sacred Campaign to protect sacred land and water and animals against tarsands pollution.
We hosted the Lummi Totem Pole at its beginning point here at Ihanktonwan along the Missouri River. Its end destination was Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, where it was erected with prayers collected all along the way in summer of 2015. A water ceremony was done and water was sent with the Pole.
Faith speaks in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline during the U.S. State Department's sole public hearing in Grand Island, Neb., Thursday, April 18, 2013, to allow citizens to make their views known on the $7.6 billion Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Cante Waste Woju
The Brave Heart Society operates a 3-acre community garden, tended primarily by youth, which produces a wide variety of vegetables that are distributed to elders and families on the Yankton Reservation.
Dakota Language Nest
The Dakota words and phrases children learn at the Brave Heart Society’s Dakota Language Nest are likely among the first words children learn in their native language. The language lessons are referred to as a “language nest” because symbolically, a nest is when a mother bird constructs it piece by piece so that young birds become strong.
Waterlily Storytelling Institute
For generations, the rich cultural knowledge of the Dakota people was passed down from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren. Each year, at Brave Heart’s annual Waterlilly Storytelling Institute, more than 1,000 participants hear traditional stories told to them firsthand by Native storytellers at local school assemblies during a four-day period.
Lightning Sticks LaCrosse Team
Our Lacrosse team is called the Lightning Sticks and has been playing for four years. We have united with four other communities to revive the game of shinny/lacrosse in our communities of Yankton/Ihanktonwan, Lower Sioux/Cansayapi; Rosebud/Sicangu and Winnebago. We have formed an intertribal team and have camps during the summer. We hope to form a Northern Plains League.
“Lacrosse was one of many varieties of indigenous stick ball games being played by American Indians at the time of European contact. Lacrosse may have developed as early as the 12th century in the Americas, and played a significant role in tribal community and spiritual life,” says the American Indian College Fund's website. “Originally these games, many of which lasted for days and included as many as 100 people rotating to play on each team, were said to have been played to give thanks to the Creator.”
“Women are nurturers, but they are also Mother Bears, ready to defend the land and water.""
~Faith Spotted Eagle
Our camps and cultural programs are designed to revive cultural traditions for Nakota, Dakota and Lakota Sioux women and girls.
Isnati Awica Dowanpi – Coming of Age Ceremony for Young Teen Girls
Featured on National Public Radio’s 'Hidden World of Girls", one of the Brave Heart Society’s greatest accomplishments has been the rehabilitation of the once forbidden and nearly lost Isnati Awica Dowanpi, or Coming of Age Ceremony for girls. One of the Seven Sacred Rites given to us by White Buffalo Calf Woman, the all-importance of this ceremony as a “rite of passage” for young women has eroded and been nearly lost in tribal society. Prior to the 1978 American Indian Freedom of Religion Act, cultural practices such as the Isnati Coming of Age Ceremony for girls were forced underground if not completely extinguished.
The purpose of Isnati is to teach young women to respect themselves, their roles and their bodies as developing women through the instruction of elder women. By piecing together knowledge from elders, the Brave Heart women revived the Isnati ceremony in a community camp setting in 1997.
As of 2009, over 80 young women have successfully participated in this powerful reconnection with our identity as strong, sacred women.
• Promotes Tribal and Self-identity
• Provides healing for families separated from culture
• Utilizes knowledge of elders/inter-generational support and respect
• Connects youth with outdoors/animals
For those who have suffered the traumas of abuse and addiction, Brave Heart’s Nagi Kicopi (Calling Back the Spirit) healing retreat, led by founding grandmother Faith Spotted Eagle, focuses on healing through the rediscovery of cultural identity.