Women 's Rites Of Passage

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Introduction

Every culture in the world has rites of passage. Whether it be death and dying, birth or a transition from puberty to adulthood, every culture has certain rituals they use to christen these changes in social status within a society. A rite of passage is symbolic in how important a change is in the lives of the people who experience them. Status changes such as these are very important in the eyes of their culture and the ceremonies they produce help them retain stability while their society adjust to the changes that are occurring to the individuals. An interesting rite of passage that can be found in many cultures around the world is a young girls transition into womanhood. Two of the cultures that one examined this rite in were the Oglala Sioux of South Dakota, and the Tukuna of the Amazon. With the genocide of the Native Americans, many of the rituals and ceremonies they use have not been seen by outsiders. Information on any ceremony can be hard to find. Fortunately, the Oglala Sioux Wichasa Wakhan, holy man, Black Elk recorded these ceremonies before his death. In the book The Sacred Pipe, Black Elk discusses the seven sacred rites of the Oglala Sioux, one of which is Ishna Ta Awi Cha Lowan, preparing a young girl for womanhood. (Black Elk, 1989). In this ceremony, the rite is performed just after the young girls first menstrual cycle. Black Elk states that this transition is very important to the Oglala Sioux, because this is when a young girl makes
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