What image is conjured when you hear the phrase crabs in a bucket? When I use this phrase in my writing, I use it in reference to my own people. There are many Lakota people who seem to be content in perpetuating a very unhealthy crab in the bucket approach to life. I am not sure what to do about it because people have to change themselves. I cannot change anyone. The only person I can change is me.
I used to like living with a crab in the bucket mentality. It was an excellent way of justifying my bad behavior. Looking back, the most troubling part of it was I didn’t realize I was living my daily life chained to that debilitating crab in the bucket mentality. I was blind to my own arrogance and denial. I could not see how badly I was treating my own people. I would hear about the crab in the bucket mentality all the time but I really didn’t believe it applied to my life.
Now maybe you are thinking to yourself “oh she isn’t writing about me, I am open-minded, I care about all of my Lakota people no matter who they are or what they do.” That’s what I used to tell myself too. But our inner thoughts are a common way to justify our actual behavior. So many self-proclaimed traditional people living on my Rez are locked in the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality. Are you one of them?
Nowadays, many of our people use the phrases internalized oppression and lateral violence. I did a little research on these phrases and found the following definitions:
“Oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. It can also be defined as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed, and the feeling of being heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, and anxiety. . . In sociology and psychology, internalized oppression is the manner in which members of an oppressed group come to internalize the oppressive attitudes of others toward themselves and those like them. For example, sometimes members of marginalized groups hold an oppressive view toward their own group, or start to believe in negative stereotypes. Examples include internalized racism, internalized sexism, and internalized homophobia.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internalized_oppression#Internalized_oppression
“Lateral Violence occurs within marginalized groups where members strike out at each other as a result of being oppressed. The oppressed become the oppressors of themselves and each other. Common behaviors that prevent positive change from occurring include gossiping, bullying, finger-pointing, backstabbing and shunning.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_violence
On the Rez, these concepts manifest as an all too common us-against-them mentality. This might be apparent in, for instance, the full-blood versus mixed-blood versus lineal descent drama which is happening on my Rez. Some of you get really heated up over the fractions listed on the papers we all have on file at the tribal office. Four quarters hating on one quarters or vice-versa is really comical when you think about it. It’s also an excellent example of internalized oppression and lateral violence!
Also, internalized oppression and lateral violence behaviors are often carried into ceremony by many Lakota people. I see many of my own Lakota people trying very hard to outdo one another when it comes to ceremony. Is it not enough to say a simple prayer? Instead I hear people trash talking one another all the time about how so-and-so shouldn’t be praying with the Cannunpa because of <insert your own personal list of one zillion reasons here>
Another great example of internalized oppression and lateral violence is division between the Lakota-speakers and the non-Lakota speakers. We have even more drama over who is fluent in the language and who is not fluent. Do we have to teach our children how to put one another down? Don’t we all carry the blood of famous Lakota Chiefs?
Internalized oppression and lateral violence have turned many Lakota people into very dark-hearted human beings. Are you even human when your heart has become black? When you can read the energy of other humans you will feel instinctively what those people are really like inside.
And it doesn’t matter how gracious the dark-hearted people are to your face, it doesn’t matter how hard they shake your hand, it doesn’t matter how genuine their smile seems – if you are an energy reader you see right through their false front. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to mask your real motives from a skilled energy reader. Some spiritual leaders are skilled energy readers. I bet they see more about a person’s true intent than they would like to.
So many of our good Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people are attacked every single day by their fellow tribal members; when you are leading people down a good road which is paving a path for our future generations to follow, you can be sure that your own people will have negative things to say about you at some point. I want to encourage you to keep moving forward in your work to bring positive change for our coming generations.
Also, if you are employed at a job or involved in a cause and hold a lot of excitement about the positive change you are working to bring to the people, stay strong! You can be sure your good work will be noticed by those corrupt crabs that do absolutely nothing to deserve their biweekly paycheck. You are a threat to them because your hard work to do good things and bring change will eventually draw the attention of their supervisors, who might one day see them for the unproductive employees they really are.
Even when someone is really good at justifying why it is okay to hurt their own fellow human beings, remember that Creator sees everything in their heart. People who use lateral violence/internal oppression tactics are like mirrors. You can always look to them to see how NOT to act.