Cangleska Wakan is a Lakota term meaning Sacred Circle or Hoop

Director : Aitken Pearson
Production Company : Medicine Bow Films
Film website :

Cangleska Wakan is a Lakota term meaning Sacred Circle or Hoop. It is based on the Sioux concept that everything in the universe is interrelated, human beings and all things which exist in their environment are connected in one continuous process of growth and development. Cangleska being circle and Wakan meaning holy or sacred. The film addresses the concept of the Sacred Hoop through the eyes and voices of the Lakota Nation. Shot on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota during the Winter/ Spring of 2008 /09 the cinematography captures a stark and unrivaled beauty which transcends all barriers connecting it’s heart to that of it’s audience.

The film is considered a performative documentary. Stressing an emotional response to the world it is personal, unconventional and experimental. Linking personal accounts with historical realities through interviews the film includes hypothetical enactments and historical re-enactments of events which offers the viewer a specific perspective on a world which is not theirs yet provides a spiritual connection they can relate to.

The Cangleska Wakan / Sacred Hoop represents the unity that binds the Lakota nation together with shared values and a clan system. These values include amongst others the language, ceremonies such as the sweat lodge and vision quest, the pipe, storytelling, songs, religion, bravery, respect, wisdom, generosity, the four directions, mother earth, father sky, teachings from elders and a belief that everything which is good and holy is circular in shape.

Personal and in depth discussions through interviews with people such as Russell Means, Donovin Hump and Dallas Chief Eagle plus other Lakota from the seven bands of the Great Sioux Nation such as Oglala, Minneconjou etc. Questions addressed include What is the Sacred Hoop / Circle Of Life, Has it been broken and if so when? Can it be mended?

One of the most poignant and interesting topics covered include the notion that everything that is good and holy is ‘round’ and revolves in a circular fashion such as the sun, earth, moon, planets, women’s menstrual cycle, shape of an eagles nest, tipi etc.

Some people believe the hoop was broken with the arrival of the Europeans in the 1400s, others believe it was compromised with the surrender of prominent chiefs such as Crazy Horse and Red Cloud in the 1800s.Some believe it has not been broken, yet the film does portray the fact that the Cangleska Wakan is a lifecycle which encompasses everyday life which is connected to the whole world. Cangleska Wakan is an intriguing documentary, an absolute must see for anyone interested in spirituality and the history of the American ‘In Dio’ ( In With God )

Award winning festivals –

  • South Dakota Jury Award
  • Black Hills Nominated Best Documentary
  • Portobello Nominated Best Documentary
  • Red Nation Best Docuementary
  • Southern Winds Native Spirit Award
  • Un Film Per La Pace Finalist
  • Lake Arrowhead Closing Film
  • Cowichan Aboriginal Closing Film

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