At the center of my peoples’ connection with Great Mystery stands the cottonwood tree.  At the center of Christianity’s connection with God stands the cross.  Both trees represent great sacrifice for the good of the People, as the dancer is tied to the plant nation.  Both create a road directly into spiritual realms, where gifts of healing for the People can flow through the human vessel doing the sacrifice.  God breaking through directly into this moment, opening into timelessness. 

Missionaries have been used to divorce us from our faith.  I grew up in the church.  I am a Christian.  I have a personal relationship with Jesus as my Savior.  This is true.  It is also true that as I grew in my understanding, I realized that I was being fed only one aspect of Jesus—the aspect that has been filtered through European history.  So, as I sought to understand on a deeper level, it came to me.  Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed—to be hung on a cross for the People.  I don’t have to sacrifice myself that way because he did it first.  In a similar way, Sun Dancers are tied to the tree, and they say they dance for the People.  I am the “people” they dance for.  Sometimes “they” ask me if I’m a Sun Dancer.  When I answer them and say, “I support the Sun Dance, but I have not hung from the tree” they say “You should try it.”

Robert “Running Fisher” Upham

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