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Narlen Blue Arm


A'tola (Narlen Blue Arm) paints the colors of the sun, posing the real and the imaginary together; a solid yellow in its dense form circumscribes the ball that has yet to see the night. The light in its diffractions outward begins with the white-hot corona. then it becomes yellowish gain. Next on this side of the mountains, in its absence, it becomes a pitch-black night. At the times of its rising from and setting on the horizon, the sun beecomes the most beautiful red. Only at sun-up and sundown can it be viewed firectly by the unaided eye from earth because of the intervening dust particles reducing the glare.

Sensing fully the singular importance of the sun to their existence, the two sundancers in tribute do the wiwangwaci, the sundance. Although not shown in the painting, an intercessor as well as the singers and so to mention the many other ready helpers fill in to complete the exercise of will and prayer. And further, the Sun Dance Ceremony involves the flesh and the piercing, the shedding of blood. As ways to eventual atonement with the Great Holy Spirit (Tunkasila).

Simply garbed with only a light, loud-color blanket belted around the mid-waist, a sagebrush chaplet, and an eagle-gone whistle as required outfit, both dancers are into their last day of dancing. From the center pole of a select cottonwood tree, here only a branch and leaves visible, two ropes extend out to the dancers, hooked into the flesh of unfinished dancer.

The other rope is snapped from the torn flesh of the just now finished dancer. Sharp pointed willow sticks had pierced the flesh two places in the chest, now torn loose, with the sticks visible in free-frame in front of the disembodied head of the last dancer. The remaining dancer disciplined and self-sacrificing is intent on tearing loose from the claw. If he wavers, his attention is re-focused by the floating eagle feathers numbering the mystical four, the first meaning being the four directions. At the center of the mystical four, the dancer is keeping time, with this whistle and with his feet, to the sacred song and the beat of the drum, until his flesh is  torn free.

Not too far away, the land-based buffalo and the wind-blown eagle suggest the diverse make-up with in the existence of other Lakota worlds that had been or have not yet been-of which the uninhibited dancer is freely celebrating in the words of an unknown traditional seer: Ake yanipi ktelo! "You shall live again"!

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