Dancing Together: The Lakota Sun Dance and Ethical Intercultural Exchange

  • Ronan Hallowell Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
Keywords: Native American Sun Dance, Lakota Traditions, Intercultural Communication, Ceremony, Ethics


Reflecting upon my twenty years of participation in several Lakota Sun Dance ceremony communities, this article explores ethical questions that arise from non-Native people practicing traditional Native American ceremonies, especially the Lakota Sun Dance. Through personal stories of lessons learned attending twenty Lakota Sun Dances, being taught for many years to sing ceremonial songs by a fluent Lakota singer/elder, and a historical overview of the Sun Dance, I discuss paths toward mutually enhancing intercultural communication based on respect, shared sacrifice, generosity, integrity, and the cultivation of long-term thinking for the well-being of people and the planet, now, and for generations to come.

Author Biography

Ronan Hallowell, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
Ronan Hallowell, EdD is a Research Associate at the Center for Process Studies at the Claremont School of Theology in Southern California. He's currently conducting research for the project "Toward Ecological Civilization" on how to redesign educational and agricultural systems to serve long term sustainability.  He aslo serves as Chair of Social Science and History at New Roads High School in Santa Monica, CA.


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