Shunka Wakan, is the Lakota name for horse, one the greatest assets that can be identified in my community. The introduction of the horse to the Lakota people transformed them spiritually, intellectually, physically and emotionally. The horse is honored as a relative and respected as a
spiritual being, with the ability to bring health and healing to a individual and a nation.
Today, the Shunka Wakan, help to bring balance to our youth through a spiritual connection between the youth and the horse, grounding them culturally in the history of the relationship of our ancestors. Equine Therapy is being utilized to reconnect our youth to their identity. I recently had the opportunity to attend a, horse camp for boys, with 2 of my sons ad a few of my nephews who are all part of our “Boys with Braids” group. This camp was sponsored by a local organization that works with children’s mental health. The boys learned about horse safety, and how to care take a horse. Each boy was paired with a horse after a spirit connecting exercise, and a relationship was built. for a lot of the boys it was their first time on a horse. The boys learned about traditional and modern uses of the horse. They were taught Lakota history and culture focused on health and moral education, participated in Lakota spirituality and found a new option for leisure and recreation in their community.
I am very grateful to our local university and the horse ranch that provides this service and to the horse nation for the gift they provide. I have pictures of the boys from he horse camp and a picture of my daughter at the rodeo.