This document provides specific examples of what support for healthy child development entails according to the Oglala Lakota people; through the examples, the document aims to encourage reflection of how other Child Advocacy Centers might incorporate traditional practices into their programming.
In this document, Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs, of Native Child Advocacy Resource Center (NCARC), provides examples of what support for healthy child development entails according to the cultural traditions of the Oglala Lakota people, in an effort to support other Tribal Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) with support for integrating their own traditional practices into their work with children and families. The examples provided here are used to provide children with a cultural anchor through forming a deep connection with their Lakota identity, and ultimately reducing trauma risks and harmful influences. The first example describes a ceremony for newborn children called Wakanyeja Yutima Awic’ac’upi; the second example of a child-centered traditional practice is the spiritual marking of the ears; and a third is a celebration of a child’s first words. The ceremonies in the first stage of life in Lakota tradition, which extends from pre-birth through puberty, aim to provide the children with a strong sense of self-esteem, and, for the adult relatives, emphasize the prioritization of the child’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being, so child-rearing is seen as a collective and shared responsibility.