Isnati Awica Lowanpi
"First Moon Ceremony"
Most printed versions of the Isnati Awica Lowanpi are very Christianized and don't come close to the actual ceremony which is all done by women. Men never come near the ceremony and have no part of it. The ceremony is done for girls whom are on their first "moon" (menstrual cycle). It is conducted by the mother, grandmothers, and elderly grandmothers of the community.
During this four day ceremony time the girls create quill work (given to them by double woman) in preparation for the final days give away. The girls are then taught the roles and responsibilities of a Lakota women and how they are take on those roles and carries these teaching throughout their life. They are kept within a lodge this entire time outside of the lodge there are red sticks surrounding the ceremony area these are to protect the girls from wondering spirits whom are drawn to the immense power the girls have during that time. The girls are not allowed to touch themselves for any reason so they collect cherry stick to scratch, their mothers or sponsors feed them, clothe, and brush & braid their hair. This is meant as a passage into women as a symbol that this would be the last time they are cared for as children.
During the four days the girls have made numerous items from quill work that are then gathered on the fourth day to where they have a "coming out ceremony." They are then presented to the tribe as women ceremony songs are sung, a giveaway is taken place with the items the girls have made as well as items collected by the families. These items are given to those whom have helped with the ceremony and participants of the final ceremony. The girls then feed the people and thank everyone for helping them.
"It is very important that our children experience and retain our Way of Life as was handed down to us from our Elders generations ago. It is through these teachings of our cultural ways that our Language, History, Song, Dance and Ceremonies will stay alive through our young people.
It is with utmost respect in your endeavors for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the beautiful Isnati ceremony.
Rochelle R. Ponca