The beautiful traditions of the Sioux people, explained in the words of Charles Alexander Eastman - Sioux writer, physician and reformer.
The Indians were religious from the first moments of life. From the moment of the mother's recognition that she had conceived to the end of the child's second year of life, which was the ordinary duration of lactation, it was supposed by us that the mother's spiritual influence was supremely important.
Her attitude and secret meditations must be such as to install into receptive soul of the unborn child the love of the Great Mystery and a sense of connectedness will all creation. Silence and isolation are the rule of life for the expectant mother.
She wanders prayerful in the stillness of great woods, or on the bosom of the untrodden prairie, and to her poetic mind the imminent birth of her child prefigures the advent of a hero - a thought conceived in the virgin breast of primeval nature, and dreamed out in a hush that is broken only by the sighing of the pine tree or the thrilling orchestra of a distant waterfall.
And when the day of days in her life dawns - the day in which there is to be a new life, the miracle of whose making has been entrusted to her - she seeks no human aid. She has been trained and prepared in body and mind for this, her holiest duty, ever since she can remember.
Childbirth is best met alone, where no curious embarrass her, where all nature says to her spirit: "It's love ! It's love! The fulfilling of life!" When a sacred voice comes over to her out of the silence, and a pair of eyes open upon her wilderness, she knows with joy that she is borne well her part in the great song of creation.
Presently she returns to the camp, carrying the mysterious, the holy, the dearest bundle ! She feels the endearing warmth of it and hears its soft breathing. It is still a part of herself, since both are nourished by the same mouthful, and no look of a lover could be sweeter than its deep, trusting daze. She continues her spiritual teaching, at first silently - a mere pointing of the index finger to nature - then in whispered songs, bird-like, at the morning and evening. To her and to the child the birds are real people, who live very close to the Great Mystery; the murmuring trees breathe its presence; the falling waters chants its praise.
If the child should chance to be fretful, the mother raises her hand. "Hush! Hush!" she cautions it tenderly, "The spirits may be disturbed!" She bids it be still and listen - listen to the silver voice of the aspen, or the clashing cymbals of the birch; and at night she points to the heavenly blazed trail through nature's galaxy of splendor to nature's God. Silence, love, reverence - this is the trinity of first lessons, and to these she later adds generosity, courage, and chastity.