The Making of Relatives

Hunkakaga is the ceremony for making an unrelated person a relative and for bringing him/her into the Tiyospaye. It is one of the seven Sacred Rites. It may be done in private or in public.

Hunkakaga is a very serious action because you are taking on the Hunkapi -- the person who is adopted -- for life. When you adopt someone, you also adopt their whole family. All of their relatives become yours, and all of your relatives become theirs.

In many ways, you are closer to the Hunkapi than to your own family. You become responsible for clothing, housing and feeding him/her if that person cannot take care of him/herself.

As Lakota children grow up, their Tiyospaye is always there to support them. All members of a Tiyospaye give attention and care to young children to help them become responsible adults. In addition, each child at birth gets a second set of parents who are responsible for caring for and instructing the child in Lakota ways and traditions. Later in life, that young Lakota takes on a responsibility for his/her relatives.

The Tiyospaye has always been the true measure of wealth for Lakotas. This came from the fact that in the old days, the more people working for the common good of the Tiyospaye -- the more hunters, warriors, food gatherers, clothing makers -- the better off you were.

Wotitakuye - Kinship and Relationships

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