Red Stick Ritual By Michele Curtis

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Red Stick Ritual as it is sometimes called, is for young Mandan wives to get naked and wear a buffalo robe. The red sticks would be placed in a line on the floor. The young wives would squat and walk along some red sticks that represent the male buffalo’s sexual organs. This of course represents the women having sex with the buffalos and then in turn they would really have sex with the older hunters, not their husbands. They thought this would transfer the buffalo’s powers to these hunters.

Sometimes it wasn’t just the young wives that did the ritual sometime the young men would do the ritual with the older men. This was if they could agree to it the younger man would get the hunting powers of the older hunter.

When the Europeans made contact with the Mandan Tribe they soon saw the ritual and a way to get use it to their advantage. The men used trade and power to get the tribe members to agree to have the ritual done but with the European men and not the hunters of the tribe. The tribe didn’t see what the men were really after and the young wives were taken advantage of. It is unknown if the men of the tribe knew about what the European men really doing and just let it happen to keep trade and riches coming to them.

Harrod, Howard, 1932. Becoming and remaining a people: Native American Religions on the Northern Plains  73 – 74

Lvi-Strauss, Claude, 1976. Structural Anthorpology, Volume 2, page 246

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