COMMUNITY VOICES | Wakan, or “the big mystery”: The traditional Lakota view of the spiritual world

In traditional Lakota belief, a supreme being or “god,” as a representable character, is not present. Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, is often interpreted as literally meaning the Great Spirit. While an understandable translation, it leads the uninformed to think that the concept of God as we know the idea in the Western tradition also exists in Lakota belief.In contrast to the popular meaning, the actual meaning of the term Wakan Tanka is great or big (tanka) mystery or mysterious (Wakan). Thus, the traditional use of the term does not refer to a definable being. Rather, it describes Lakota understanding of the supernatural or spiritual world. Continue Reading