Cannunpa Wakan and Looking Back Woman

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I have in my possession the Cannunpa Wakan used by Grandfather Frank Fools Crow as Ceremonial Chief and Holy Man of the Western Teton Sioux during the first through the fourth White Buffalo Calf Pipe Ceremony and Sun Dance held at Green Grass, South Dakota between 1971 and 1975.

    These are the first words from Looking Back Woman that grabbed our attention as the petite and soft-spoken, middle-aged woman of Lakota ancestry claimed she has the oldest C'anupa Wakan — also called the First Pipe, that the holy White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman taught chiefs of the Great Sioux Nations to make centuries ago.

    This serious claim came to our attention in an article published in a small newspaper in Canada, in 2003. At first, I discounted the claim out-of-hand for several reasons.

    There are only two Sioux pipes that are old and worn enough to be the "first" pipes brought to the people.

    There have been a number of false claims in the past regarding the C'anupa Wakan and in this day and age of fast-buck artists, it is best to doubt first and let the chips fall where they may later.

    Regardless, we decided to publish the article in the interest of bringing out the light of truth. And, there was something about this woman that spoke to a little voice inside that said, "What if?"

    Shortly after we published the Looking Back Woman story on this Website, James Ritchie, archivist of Boissevain Community Archives and the Moncur Museum Gallery, who is quoted extensively in the article, contacted us to add comments and clarify statements he felt were not correctly reported in the newspaper article.

    After we posted Mr. Ritchie's comments on the Looking Back Woman page, a representative of Looking Back Woman called and said Ms. Dupree wanted to share more information in the interest of seeking truth.

    This struck our bell.

    We sent Dupree a list of questions and later followed up with dozens of lengthy telephone conversations and innumerable emails over the next year or so.

    We found Dupree to be candid and quick to respond, thought her answers opened up more questions than they resolved.

    We discovered that Looking Back Woman is authentic, honest and has a good bit of history to back up a good portion of her claim, but many questions remain.

    Thus begins the story about Suzanne Dupree, Looking Back Woman