Four Winds Ceremony

There are many different Four Winds ceremonies on the internet.  There are versions specific to Cub Scouts or special events like Eagle COH, versions with most of the Indian words removed, and there are versions that include detailed stage directions. The Four Winds Ceremonies are all originallly based on the Pipe Ceremony which has been banned from NOAC (National Order of the Arrow Conference) Group Dance Competitions at the request of Tribal councils along with The Ghost Dance, The Pipe Dance, The Sun Dance, The Hopi Snake Dance, and the Peyote Ritual. The Four Winds Ceremony conducted without a pipe is not mentioned under NOAC rules, nor do NOAC rules prevent a ceremony from being used at a local level. In any case, it is always performed by Scouts for entertainment only as a dramatic presentation in which they are acting out their parts, not as an actual religious ceremony. The one below is based on one from Otena Lodge, Order of the Arrow, the Peace Pipe Ceremony in Seton’s Birch Bark Roll (1921 ed. is titled The Book of Woodcraft), and the description of Barefoot Windwalker (Bob Hardison) of a typical Pipe Ceremony. The order that the winds are addressed is west-north-east-south, as described by Apota (Julian Harrison Salomon) in Indian Crafts and Indian Lore, 1928. The Lakota name of Father Sky and a few other Indian words and phrases are from various sources. I replaced the spelling of “how” with “hau”, the correct spelling of the Lakota word which means both “hello” and "yes". Of old, Lakota warriors addressed each other with "hau kola" (hello, friend or ally); women used the word "han" instead of "hau". We do not wish to perpetuate the stereotype that all Indians use this greeting. Also, a reference to the “ways of the white man” has been removed as possibly offensive. (Greg Bonney, Troop 760 OATRA, Boone Trails Chapter, Shawnee Lodge)

The Ceremony Of The TATE UYETOPA (Four Winds)

Hau mitakuye Oyasin. Greetings to all my relations. Meetah kola nayhoon-po omnicheeyay nee-chopi. Hear me, my friends, we are about to hold a council.

Now light we the Council Fire. Know that the Great Spirit, whose dwelling is above the Thunderbird, hath been pleased to smile on his children and grant us this sacred fire. By this we remember he will be present at our Council, that his wisdom will be with us.
As Anpetu-Wi, the great sun, transverses its fiery arc across the sky, the shadows of the trees move clockwise.  So shall you move when you are in the council ring.

[If there will be dancing , the following may be added: If you are pleased with a warriors dance, you will not clap.  Instead, you will respond with the Lakota word "HAU."]

Silence must be maintained at all times except when having answer to the phrase "HAY-OON-KEE-YA" you will reply "NUN-WE."
Remember, the council ring is sacred.  Respect it as such.

[If a pipe were used, now would be the time to light it. The Woodcraft Indians used "cedar bark and kinnikinick, or dried red ozier dogwood bark, in the bowl of the pipe." It is also said that, "The bark of the red willow has a pleasant aroma, and served in the old days as a substitute, when tobacco was scarce on the great plains." Other herbs used for American Indian ceremonies included sage, cedar, and sweetgrass. Sage or cedar were used in a smudge to drive away negative spirits, and sweetgrass was burned to bring in good spirits. The sweetgrass could then also be used to light the pipe once the ceremony has started.]

MY friends, lend ear, take heed, for the ways of council have descended upon us.  And as our forefathers have done many moons before us we shall open council by asking for the blessings of the Great Spirit, the earth, the sky, and the four winds.

[If a pipe were used, it would be offered to each of the 7 directions (inward, downward, upward, north, south, east, and west) as each spirit is called upon. A real medicine man in a real pipe ceremony would blow smoke in the 7 directions. Scouts, of course, should never smoke a pipe.]

WAKANTANKA, the Great Spirit, Creator of us all, Creator of all things, Creator of the Four Winds, Mother Earth, and Father Sky.  Bring your wisdom and strength upon us tonight, that we may hold this council in peace. 
HAY-OON-KEE-YA. NUN-WE. (All answer: NUN-WE)

INA MAKA, Mother Earth.  Green is the color of Mother Earth. Each rock, each four legged, each two legged, all creatures, plants and minerals, we are all related. We respect our Mother Earth and protect her. Be with us tonight O Gentle One, that we may hold this council in peace. 
HAY-OON-KEE-YA. NUN-WE. (All answer: NUN-WE)

MAHPIYA A'TE, Father Sky in union with Mother Earth are like two parents. Father Sky gives us energy for our lives and heats our bodies and our lodges. Be with us tonight, Father Sky, and guide us with your stars, that we may hold this council in peace.
HAY-OON-KEE-YA. NUN-WE. (All answer: NUN-WE)

WIYOHPE YATA, Spirit of the Sunset Wind. West is Black. Black stands for the Spirit World. We will all go to the Spirit World and we will all know one another and our deeds. Spirit of the West Wind, come not in your strength upon us, that we may hold this council in peace.

WAZIYATA, Spirit of the Winter Wind. White is for the North. The North Wind brings a blanket of white snow that covers Mother Earth. Spirit of the Winter Wind, come not with your chilling winds upon us, that we may hold this council in peace.

WIYOHIYA PATA, Spirit of the Sunrise Wind. The East is Red. Red is for the Rising Sun which brings us a new day and another chance to learn. Spirit of the Sunrise Wind, trouble us not with your rain, that we may hold this council in peace.

ITOKAGATA, Spirit of the Hot Wind.  The South is Yellow. Yellow is for the color of Spring and the yellow hoop of the sun. Spirit of the Hot Wind, strike us not with your fierce heat, that we may hold this council in peace. 

The fire of cheerfulness shall now burn brightly upon the sacred alter of Brotherhood for the circle of the Four Winds is now complete.  It has no beginning and it has no end.  We are now at the center of the universe joined by the flow of life. 

[In OA ceremony, the following will then be added: Therefore let us begin the ways of the Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahumui.]

Definitions and Pronunciation
(Unless otherwise noted, all American Indian words are from the Lakota language. If pronunciation is not given, it's because it's already spelled out phonetically. Seton's version used all phonetic spelling.)

  • Anpetu-wi – (ahn-pay-too-wee) "the sun" literally the day sun
  • Hau - (houw) yes, agree, hello
  • Mahpiyah Ate – (mak pi yah ah tay) Father Sky
  • HAY-OON-KEE-YA - "Be with us"
  • HAY-OON-KEE-OON-EE-YA-SNEE - "Come not upon us"
  • Ina Maka – (ee nah mah kah) Mother Earth
  • ITOKAGATA - (ito ka`ga< ta) South
  • Meetah kola nayhoon-po omnicheeyay nee-chopi - "Hear me, my friends, we are about to hold a council."
  • Mitakuye Oyasin – (me-ta-koo-yea oh-ya-seen) We are all relate
  • Nun-we - (Noon-way) May it be so, let it be so, Amen!
  • Wakantanka – (wah kahn than kah) Great Spirit or Great Mystery
  • WAZIYATA - (wazi< yata) North
  • WIYOHIYA PATA - (wi yo< `hin yan pata) East
  • WIYOHPE YATA - (wi yo< `hpe yata) West


  1. Otena Lodge, Order of the Arrow, FOUR WINDS CEREMONY
  2. Barefoot Windwalker, The Native American Chanunpa, the Sacred Pipe
  3. Ernest Thompson Seton, Book of Woodcraft and Indian Lore, 1921 ed.
  4. Lillian Elizabeth Roy, May Folwell Hoisington, Woodcraft Boys at Sunset Island, 1919 - fictional work, describes a Woodcraft Indians Pipe ceremony in detail, including details not mentioned by Seton such as what they used in the pipe ("First I light the cedar bark and kinnikinick, or dried red ozier dogwood bark, in the bowl of the pipe. Now I offer the peace-pipe to Wakonda, the Great Spirit and Maka Ina, Mother Earth, imploring their presence at the Council.")
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