Sitting Bull, Ghost Dance, Wounded Knee & Nearing Death Awareness 

Historical References / Anniversaries:

December 15, 1890 – Sitting Bull is murdered by American Indian Police

PBS – The West – Regarding Sitting Bull and the Ghost Dance

The History and Culture of the Standing Rock Oyate: The Ghost Dance

December 17, 1890 – Sitting Bull and the police killed during his arrest are all buried with honor.

December 29, 1890 – Wounded Knee

Wounded Knee Massacre

Wounded Knee – PBS We Shall Remain

Wounded Knee Museum

December 29, 2010 – Remembering Wounded Knee – with a quote from Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:

“It was the fourth day after Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 1890. When the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters. Across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN.”

December 29 – Annual Chief Big Foot Memorial Ride
An Article about the 2011 Event.

Meet Shad Agard: Big Foot Memorial Ride Staff Bearer – Article Dated 10/30/12

For many American Indian people, the month of December can bring a number of mixed emotions. It is the month that Sitting Bull was murdered by American Indian police who believed he would be attending Ghost Dance. It is the month when approximately 300 American Indian men, women and children were killed at Wounded Knee shortly after Christmas. It is difficult for me to think of Christmas and not reflect on these grievous events. I have not been to the place of the massacre yet, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I can sense all the ancestors around me and can hear their voices.

It reminds me of a book I am reading, “Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying” by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley. The authors are hospice nurses and the book is a collection of stories of those who were dying and their ‘Nearing Death Awareness’.

It is my understanding that one of the elements of the Ghost Dance that was uncomfortable for some non-America Indian people was the concept of ancestors coming back from the dead or their perception of how indigenous people interact with the dead. We see it in movies quite a bit. One of my favorite movies is “Thunderheart”. Val Kilmer’s character is having visions of running for his life along side those who were running at Wounded Knee.

As Christians, we often don’t know how to ‘receive’ these concepts of hearing from the dead, seeing the dead, and joining in ceremony with the dead. Not only that, but we struggle with the theology of seeing in the spiritual realm, hearing spirits, seeing spirits and discerning spirits. I believe a lot of that confusion and apprehension comes from conflicting teachings.

All of that being said, I find this book very validating, comforting and exciting. I can see how the concepts and stories can be a bridge between cultures and faiths. The stories include people who see their dead relatives before they die, people who see spirits before they die, people who see Jesus or God before they die, people who see into the spiritual realm and who have conversations with beings in the spiritual realm before they die, and people who have a keen awareness that they are dying and who are trying to communicate their needs.

Of course, all of these experiences are not just for the dying. However, according to the authors of the book, the dying can experience a heightened awareness.

Scripture has given us a lot of examples of Christ and the disciples talking about and speaking into the spiritual realm in terms of what we call ‘spiritual warfare’. Today, let’s look at “Nearing Death Awareness” in the Word. The following Scriptures are just a few of what are available to study in this matter.

In Hebrews, there are two verses that talk about the presence of dead ancestors in a positive light: verses 1 & 23.

“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 Amplified

“But rather, you have come to Mount Zion, even to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless multitudes of angels in festal gathering, And to the church (assembly) of the Firstborn who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the God Who is Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous (the redeemed in heaven) who have been made perfect, And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance].” Hebrews 12:22-24 Amplified

The following verses describe Christ’s experiences of interacting with the supernatural, in speaking with the dead and of his own awareness of His nearing death. (Of course, we know that Christ lives! However, we can not deny that His physical body died prior to His resurrection and He, being man, experienced death awareness and death as a human being.)

“Saying, The Son of Man must suffer many things and be [[f]deliberately] disapproved and repudiated and rejected on the part of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be put to death and on the third day be raised [again]. And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [[g]disown himself, [h]forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, [i]refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [[j]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it [[k]from the penalty of eternal death]. For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself? Because whoever is ashamed of Me and of My teachings, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the [[l]threefold] glory (the splendor and majesty) of Himself and of the Father and of the holy angels. However I tell you truly, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God. Now about eight days after these teachings, Jesus took with Him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as He was praying, the appearance of His countenance became altered (different), and His raiment became dazzling white [[m]flashing with the brilliance of lightning]. And behold, two men were conversing with Him—Moses and Elijah, Who appeared in splendor and majesty and brightness and were speaking of His exit [from life], which He was about to bring to realization at Jerusalem.” Mark 9:22-31 Amplified

Matthew 17:1-11 and 22; Mark 9:1-12 and 30-32; Luke 9:21-34 and 44-45.

The next verses illustrate Christ’s knowledge of when He would die, how He would die and His use of symbolism in talking about death, which is also common among people who are having Nearing Death Awareness.

“When Jesus had ended this discourse, He said to His disciples, You know that the Passover is in two days—and the Son of Man will be delivered up [a]treacherously to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2 Amplified

“And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire. And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again a second time He went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass by unless I drink it, Your will be done. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were weighed down with sleep. So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, using the same words.” Matthew 26:39-44 Amplified

Matthew 26:39, 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42

Another component to Nearing Death Awareness is need for specific events or tasks to take place before death. For instance, some people need to bless family and friends, some need reconciliations with people or events, and others need important rituals or ceremonies. The following scriptures illustrate some of the elements needed for Christ’s death.

“And while He was in Bethany, [a guest] in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining [at table], a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment ([a]perfume) of pure nard, very costly and precious; and she broke the jar and poured [the perfume] over His head. But there were some who were moved with indignation and said to themselves, To what purpose was the ointment ([b]perfume) thus wasted? For it was possible to have sold this [perfume] for more than 300 denarii [a laboring man’s wages for a year] and to have given [the money] to the poor. And they censured and reproved her. But Jesus said, Let her alone; why are you troubling her? She has done a good and beautiful thing to Me [praiseworthy and noble]. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you will not always have Me. She has done what she could; she came beforehand to anoint My body for the burial.” Mark 14:3-8 Amplified

Matt 16:21-23; Matt 26:10-12; John 12:7, 16

Prayer Regarding Sitting Bull, Ghost Dance, Wounded Knee and Nearing Death Awareness

“Father, Creator of All, thank You for the many intercessors praying for Your indigenous people. Thank You for their courage and their commitment. Father, there are times when being an intercessor is hard work, emotional, draining, challenging and rewarding. It can be a bittersweet calling, with highs and lows, and full of mystery. Father, today Your intercessors come together to seek Your face, Your heart and Your will in how to pray regarding heartbreaking issues. During a time when Believers celebrate the birth of Your precious son, Jesus, and the fulfillment of prophecies and promises, we also look at wrongs and injustice. During this month of December, we reflect on the murder of Sitting Bull, the misunderstandings of Ghost Dance, and the tragic deaths of 300 indigenous people at Wounded Knee. Lives that were lost at Christmas time when a gun misfired and people reacted. Father, give us Your heart. Move in us. Spirit, lead our prayers. Show us how to put aside our nature to ‘fix’ and ‘make right’ and let us be still as we see with Your eyes. For over a hundred years, there have been people praying for healing and reconciliation over these huge painful and traumatic events. Yes, there is lots of progress! Yes, there are positives. Yes, people are drawn together and yes, healing is taking place. Yet, there is still such a huge pain. Father, in the stillness, teach us how to be open to what You want to show us and how to pray, that our prayers will be effective in a mighty and powerful way, according to Your will and Your glory and Your great purpose. Father, as we pray concerning indigenous people who have been killed and the conflicts over indigenous ceremonies that recognize the spirits of those who have crossed over before us, teach us how to pray. The testimonies of those who work in the field of death and dying, as well as Your Scripture, give tremendous insight. We see that even as Jesus was approaching death, He was not afraid of the spirits of the ancestors that came to visit Him and encourage Him. Yet, even with Scripture and testimonies, this is an area of discussion that people are often afraid to look at, teach about, talk about or accept. We thank You for the courage it takes to face these controversial subjects head-on. We thank You for the trust You put in us to hear and obey and pray. Yahweh, in the name of Your son Jesus, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and according to Your perfect will as the One and Only Supreme God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, and all that has breath, we pray that You will nurture this opportunity to bridge the gap between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, the Believers and the Non-Believers, in regards to death and dying, in such a way that Your truth would be made manifest in new ways, in new dimensions, and through new opportunities. Your indigenous people have so much to teach us in this area. Father, as Your Church trusts in You and trusts in the process of listening, bridge the gap. Father, provide opportunities for indigenous communities to teach the Church about death and dying through their eyes. Father, as Your Church listens, grow the relationships between peoples. Father, continue to heal the past wounds and the huge canyons between the Church and indigenous people. Father, we pray that as You create opportunities for discussions on death and dying, that You will bless and nurture those discussions, according to Your perfect will, that will move into new discussions about eternity, salvation, and Christ’s return. That we can, according to Your good purpose and according to Your perfect will, be open to hearing what the elders were saying about Ghost Dance and Jesus’ Second Coming. Give the people of North America another opportunity to find common ground as they talk about You, Your names, and Your prophecies that are yet to be manifest. Thank You, Father. Amen.”


Historical References / Anniversaries

December 6, 1748 – “Our Enlightener” Iroquois Believer who helped abolish the sale of alcohol to American Indians crosses over.

December 8, 2010 – Claims Resolution Act

Indian Trust Settlement

December 14, 1915 – Reverend Red Fox James (Blackfoot) delivers endorsements of a national day of recognition of American Indians to the White House.

Mid –December 1975 – Mi’kmaq Activist Anna Mae Aquash murdered on Pine Ridge

December 19, 2010 – Obama Signs Appropriations Bill

December 19, 2012 – Conversation for Reconciliation: A Public Reading of the US Apology to Native Peoples Public Event – Host: Mark Charles – Wed., Dec. 19, 2012 at 11:00am in EST

On the third anniversary of the signing of the 2010 DOD Appropriations Bill, a diverse group of citizens will host a public reading of H.R. 3326 and its enclosed apology. We invite you to stand with us in our efforts to begin a conversation moving towards reconciliation between the United States of America and the indigenous hosts of this land. –

“Page 45 of the 2010 Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 3326) contains an apology to Native Americans on behalf of the citizens of the Unites States. This apology is buried in a 67 page bill that has never been clearly communicated or shared with the nearly 5 million Native American citizens of this country.”



Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday

(Note: This is a study that was originally prepared in December 2012 in partnership with NIAP Prayer Shield)

Books Used in this 12 Month Study

The Holy Bible in the following translations: KJV, NIV, Amplified, NASB, CEV and The Scriptures.

“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L. Shelley

“Encyclopedia of Native American Wars & Warfare”. General Editors William B. Kessel, Ph.D. and Robert Wooster, Ph.D.

“This Day In North American Indian History” by Phil Konstantin

As with the First Nations Monday prayer and Scripture studies, I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.


First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – New Testament

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – Old Testament

Cherokee Bible Project Titles in Book form:
(A joint mission of the Cherokee Bible Project and Four Rivers Native American Church)
Genesis in Cherokee
Haggai in Cherokee
Jonah in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
JAMES to JUDE in Cherokee
John’s Revelation in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)

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