During the annual Okipa ceremony among the Mandan of the Great Plains of North America, in a display of his devotion to the Great Spirit, a young man would submit himself to tortures few human beings have ever experienced. The Okipa was a rite closely related to the ceremony of the
Excellent summary of Catlin's observations. I had heard that this ritual was still being preformed in secret. Have you any evidence of this?
Excellent piece, the world it’s stranger than I knew. Would be interested in a follow up that taces the lineage of these rites. How widespread was the ritual in its various forms. What functions and symbols are preserved?
Catlin's "competition of stoicism" is familiar to any basic trainee. Not having read these sources, I have immediate questions, such as how often this culture has wars, with whom, and to what ends. I take some issue with the interpretation of the ritual as a solely competitive event. The reason men endure battle is that they don't want to let their friends down. Each of these young men likely knows some, or all, of these other young men, and they have been kept together for four days, long enough to instil group response to command in a cohort of young men. Scarification and elaborate individual tortures of young men being forged as a unit of warriors describes the Reception Hall at Fort Leonard Wood. I kid, a little, but the point of all this activity Catlin witnessed is that when those boys march to war singing their equivalent of "Airborne Ranger," they are no longer individuals at all. They are an army.