The Circle’s unifying theme is a safe, sober, and spiritual welcoming for all Natives and community members, including those who may have little or no concept of their history or traditions. As participants share in the Circle, the focus is often on health matters, including stories of recovery from alcohol or other drug use. The inclusion of a meal is an integral part of the Talking Circle because it symbolizes an offering to the Creator, as well as a healing gift to all who are present.
Talking Circles are ancient ceremonies through which Native Americans have shared information, Elders have taught important lessons, and individuals have settled differences. Talking Circle ceremonies are still used today by indigenous people all over the world as a method of communication. Talking Circles can be a very powerful means of touching or bringing healing to the mind, the heart, the body, and the spirit. One could call it a very effective form of group therapy.
Unlike other communication styles within the United States, communication in Native American culture values cooperation over competition. Commonly, when Native Americans engage in conversation, they listen intently, often looking down and not establishing eye contact, until the person speaking is completely finished talking. Then, another person talks and fully expects to be able to completely finish expressing their thoughts, without interruption, before the conversation turns to another person. There is a high level of respect and a sacred quality to Talking Circles, including those hosted by the Lakota Way Healing Center.