The Lakota Way Of The Red Road - Following The Markers Of Truth

Thunder Horse has a beautiful post that outlines the differences between choosing what the Lakota call The Red Road and The Black Road:

There are many roads in life, but there are two that are important; the Red Road and the Black Road. They represent good and bad in every one’s life. It’s the two choices people have to make frequently in life. The Red Road is the good way, the good side, and the right choice. It is a road that is difficult with dangers and obstacles that are hard to travel on. The Black Road is the bad way, the bad side, and the wrong choice. The Black Road is wide and easy to travel. The Red Road and the Black Road appear in our lives not as roads but as the personifications of right and wrong, good and bad, light and dark.

The Lakota never were known to accumulate material goods. It was never done in pursuit of wealth; it was done to get around hard times or to help someone who ran short. Generosity has its rewards. The lack of it has its consequences. It was not practical for a nomadic people to accumulate too much because it only meant more to haul when the camp moved, which could be up to three or four times a year. The more you owned, the more you hauled.  

Truth is the marker along the roads we travel in life. The Red Road has many markers. If you choose the Black Road, there is only the illusion of truth. We can be influenced by the truth or by illusion. Sometimes truth is like the wind.  You cannot see it, but you can see the effect it has. Truth is also like the sunrise and sunset. We see the sun come up over the eastern horizon in the morning and then disappear behind the western horizon in the evening.  From the perspective of our existence on a spinning globe, the sun appears to “rise” and “set.” In reality the sun does neither. Living a humble and giving life keeps one on the path of the Red Road.


Journey into Native American Heritage has a beautiful poem describing the Red Road that ends with this:

To Walk the Red Road,

you have less fear of being wrong,

because you know that life is a journey,

a continuous circle, a sacred hoop.

Mistakes will be made,

and mistakes can be corrected -

if you will be humble,

for if you cannot be humble,

you will never know

when you have made a mistake.


If you walk the Red Road,

you know that every sorrow

leads to a better understanding,

every horror cannot be explained,

but can offer growth.


To Walk the Red Road

is to look for beauty in all things.


To Walk the Red Road

is to know you will one day

cross to the Spirit World,

and you will not be afraid.


Image from KDavidClark on flickr