What is “Wahkan?”

People ask wherever I go “What is Wahkan” WAKAN is a Lakota Indian term that means “sacred” or “holy.” WAKAN-TONKA was the Lakota term for God the Creator. Wakan or Wahkan also meant “sacred warrior.”

During the days of Western Expansion and (call it like it is) the destruction of Native American tribes and lands by land-hungry White settlers, missionaries would enter the Native communities. There were two types of missionaries – one, the missionaries operating “schools” where they not only taught the Gospel, but stripped Indians of their culture. They sought to franchise eastern US culture among the newly conquered peoples. Much the same way as ancient cultures did, such as the Babylonians did to the Israelites they conquered.

There was another type of missionary. One who retained his/her beliefs, but rather than erradicating the culture, sought the good elements in it and allowed the people to hang on to some of it. These missionaries were appreciated and were respected as “Wahkan” or “Sacred Warriors.”

I’m a Beaver. And proud of it. Student of Native Culture as well. But also a missionary. A dear friend of mine gave me this name “Wahkan” – meaning Sacred Warrior, a couple years ago, before I ever applied to the Army. When my friend explained why, I felt very blessed that someone would be that thoughtful.

At Chaplain School, our class sounded off with “Sacred Warriors!” everytime we were called to attention. It’s on our class coins. Not all warriors are sacred. Not all sacred message bearers are warriors. But the minister or missionary who dons the uniform of Soldier, and can embrace the culture, and respect the culture, and maintain his/her beliefs, is a Sacred Warrior. So can there be more than one Wahkan? Certainly! And even if you think I’m nuts its okay. This is my blog! Hooah! SACRED WARRIORS!!

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