What does the eclipse mean to Native Americans?

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 6:44 PM CDT
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Maȟphíya Yapȟéta, in Lakȟóta it means fire cloud.

"They regard the solar eclipse as an event where this great creature up in the sky swallows the sun,” said historical interpreter Dakota Goodhouse. "And the sun, the day-star, with his headdress, burns through or cuts through and he's victorious. His light is revealed again, his headdress is revealed again."

Aug. 7, 1869. The last major solar eclipse remembered in Lakȟóta history. With an eclipse just a few days away, Dakota Goodhouse talks about how Lakȟóta people reacted when they saw an eclipse, like at Fort Rice in North Dakota.

"Some of the men pulled out their guns and fired, but most of them prayed. They held a moment of prayer and it was over. Then they went back to their regular work day, their regular life."

The eclipse wasn't feared, but a time for solemn observance.

"Just quietly pray for the light and the warmth to come back into the world. And not just the world but into each other."

One of more than a dozen ways the Lakȟóta people interpret the eclipse. The best time to view the eclipse in Bismarck will be around 12:50 in the afternoon, but only if you are wearing your ISO approved eclipse glasses.