Changes to Ceremonial Practices

Once the Sun Dance and other Indigenous ceremonies were prohibited in the 1895 Indian Act, bands often altered their traditional practices when performing the Sun Dance and other ceremonies.  This reduced surveillance and scrutiny from police and government officials. Some of the strategies used included elimination of the aspect of skin-piercing, performing the ceremony at night, travelling south of the border to participate in ceremonies held in the U.S., integrating components of the Christian religion, and admitting entrance of Euro-Canadians.

The Sun Dance was perceived to be a 'pagan ritual' and an illegitimate expression of spirituality that perpetuated what the government coined "barbarism", thus impeding the spread of Christianity. The official prohibition of the Sun Dance, therefore, was a method of the government's attempt to cause a complete cultural eradication. Despite government attempts, Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan continued to practice the Sun Dance (practiced widely across the Plains) and other prohibited ceremonies, though in some cases they were forced to modify their practices in order to avoid interference from government officials.
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