Monthly Archives: July 2013

“The Lakota Philosophy of Healing Through Song”


“When we pray with our heart, we can never go wrong.” Warfield Moose, Jr.


Lakota songs carry powerful vibrations. A song sung from one’s heart can send waves of love and healing to all living beings as well as the universe.


Songs which are composed and sung by Lakota singers are very precious to me. Still, I know there are Lakota people who sit in judgment of our people who compose and/or sing songs, especially ceremonial songs. Personally, I am always happy to hear new ceremonial songs. It proves that our young singers are being gifted with new songs. It is a sign our people will continue to walk the ceremonial path of our powerful ancestors. Thus, we must encourage our Lakota singers and not judge them for their talent.


Our singers are very important people. Recently, I was asked to write a review of the CD composed by my good friends Warfield Moose, Jr. and Shilo Clifford. The CD is accompanied by a book written by Warfield and is titled “The Lakota Philosophy of Healing through Song.” The book contains beautiful images of Lakota people and places along with the stories behind each of the 13 songs. 


A forward by the late Albert White Hat, Sr. states in part “When Warfield’s dad went to the spirit world, my nephew came to work at St. Francis. We were having an Inipi, a sweat ceremony, and he came over and really honored me. He talked about his dad, who was his hero and the person he learned everything from. He said, my father is gone and I need an uncle. So would you mind if I called you uncle? It was a wonderful gift he gave me that day, to acknowledge me as a relative.”


“Leksi Albert and I would sit hours and hours talking about healing ourselves through songs and he told me we are all healers and the songs I sing will heal people just by listening. He said I didn’t have to meet everybody who listens to this CD but they will know you and they will get healing by singing your songs,” Warfield Moose, Jr.


The following paragraphs give the song titles and a short quote from the book.


Honoring My Father – “I dedicate this song to my father and all fathers who protect and guide their children. Sometimes we have to sing songs for them because they help us to become ikce wicasa – common men.”


Fire Without End – “This was a beautiful night when the spirit of the peta (fire) and the inyan (rock) gathered together to hear our voices through prayer and song. Hoka hey.”


Living – “When the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman brought the cannupa (sacred pipe) to our people, it was a time when we were strong in our prayers. Songs were composed in honor of this gift and Living is one of them.”


Green Grass – “My hope is this song will help people to heal and treat one another with love and respect.”


Mother – “To the Lakota people, Ina and Unci, Mother and Grandmother, are held in the highest regard because of the compassion and wisdom they bring to their families and this world.”


Cannupa Olowan – “My father explained that I should not call myself a pipe carrier, because it is the pipe that carries us. With our cannupa, we pray for all of the ones who need help: the sick, the orphans and those in prison. We pray for all walks of life and people, regardless of what kind of people they are. I see it as unconditional love and that’s why the cannupa is holy.”


Grandmother – “When I was young she took me to a healing ceremony in a darkened room. My grandmother explained that sometimes our eyes get us into trouble and we see things that hurt or bother us. When we aren’t able to see anything, our heart teaches our mind to trust and guides us to see good things.”


Has No Horse – “Our children, grandchildren and future generations have much to learn about our culture, history and language – but that’s the good part – because these teachings never end. There will always be something to come back when we need answers in our lives.”


Red Day – “There are people who appreciate every day they wake up to see the sun. My great grandfather, Frank Short Horn, whose Lakota name was Iyomakpe (I Am Happy), was such a person. My mother tells me a story about him, and how each morning he would use cedar to smudge throughout his home. He would cry and pray, thanking the Creator for a new day and offering prayers for our future generations.”


This Day I Pray – “You can get a better understanding of what is in a person’s heart by listening to how they speak to Tunkasila. My grandmother taught me that how we conduct ourselves is a reflection of our ancestors and relatives who raised us. I want to conduct myself in a way that honors the teachings of my parents and grandparents.”


Hoye Wayelo – “Whenever I sing Hoye Wayelo, I remember all of the young people who sing from their hearts without concern for whether they are making mistakes or trying to impress anyone.”


Wopila – “To the Lakota people, all we have, we give. We give so much that before someone is able to do something for us, we give to them. That is how we see Tunkasila: we have no expectations because we know in our hearts what we give of ourselves we have already received through the Creator.”


Remember Me – “This song was composed in the fall of 1997 and now it is sung everywhere – at many memorials and Sundance ceremonies. It makes me happy to hear young people carrying on this song. My wish is that it is sung how I composed it, with these teachings in mind. One of my father’s teaching says that people change, but not the ceremonies or the songs.”


These songs brought great encouragement and healing to me. I want to acknowledge and thank all the people who made this awesome project possible. I appreciate the opportunity to hear the songs and read the book. For more information please visit and


I appreciate Warfield and Shilo allowing me to share my thoughts about their project. I also want to say Wopila to them for their tireless efforts in bringing healing to the people.


Mitakuye Oyasin.

I have a vision of all Lakota people living alcohol and drug free lives

Many do not give a second thought about our health conditions until we fall ill. We take our health for granted, especially when we are young. It is very common for our young people to view themselves as invincible. But in reality we are all only human.


Many of us stumble through our youth engaging in dangerous behavior. Some of us will continue risky behavior until we die. How many of you started drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, abusing prescription medication or illegal drugs as a teen? I do know that most of us living on the Rez start abusing substances at a very young age. For instance, I know of many children as young as 10 years old who live on the Rez and are already drinking/smoking/drugging. Is your child one of them?


Many adults are way beyond help. Just look at all of our Lakota people who did not reach their fortieth birthday because they regularly overdosed on alcohol to the point where their organs finally gave out. They literally drank themselves to death. When I was a teenager the death rate from cirrhosis was nowhere near what it is today.


In addition, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effect (FAE) was once unheard of amongst Lakota people. Today there are many of our people who are living their lives with FAS or FAE. There is still a whole bunch of denial surrounding these birth defects which, by the way, are totally preventable.


Another disturbing statistic is the number of our people who are addicted to smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. Tobacco is a sacred substance but it is not sacred when you abuse it by sucking on a commercial cigarette or a wad of chew in your cheek. Statistics show at least one-quarter of Indian people are addicted to smoking cigarettes.


Do you have that constant cough? Do you realize how deadly it sounds to the rest of us? I smoked cigarettes every day for a very long time and it brought me nothing but illness. I am forever grateful for finding the strength to put my cigarette out for good. You will do yourself a big favor by putting out yours. Your grandchildren deserve grandparents who are not prisoner to a stinky sick-a-rette.


I am recovering from a recent illness which was serious enough to hospitalize me. I am still not well, yet I am feeling better every day. I want to say Wopila to all of you who prayed for my recovery, I appreciate you! Sincere prayers are always appreciated.


Being sick has made me realize, once again, how important good health is to our quality of life. It is not fun being hospitalized. The tests which medical staff have to perform on a patient are often painful. No one enjoys having their blood drawn every four hours. When you are in the hospital you live there with a needle in your vein so fluids and medication can be pumped into your bloodstream. While hospitalized you are always at the mercy of strangers.


Being sick is not fun. So, I want to encourage our young people to begin thinking about giving up the alcohol, tobacco and drugs because these substances will kill you. When you are my age you will regret all the drinking/smoking/drugging you did during your youth.


And those of you who have children owe it to them to get healthy because if you die prematurely someone else will have to raise the children you created. Do you really want to leave your small children behind? Some of our people did not live long enough to see their children grow into adults or to know their grandchildren. Do you want your children and grandchildren to only know you through the pictures they are shown because you died an early death?


Also, if you are engaging in unhealthy behaviors chances are very good that your children and grandchildren will follow in your footsteps. Are you coughing that rugged cough all day and night from your cigarettes? If so, you are showing your children and grandchildren that it is acceptable for people to live their lives smoking cigarettes to the point of having constant coughing fits.


Alcohol and drugs, including commercial tobacco, only serve to cover up a lot of issues. You have physical, emotional, mental and spiritual issues which those substances are covering up. To keep using is a serious form of denial. Are you going to summon your inner strength to give up your addictions and confront your issues? Or will you continue your slow suicide? The choice is always yours.


Furthermore, I hear a lot of our people constantly condemning the wasicu for all the misery they have brought to us. Still, so many of these same people are still willing to partake of the wasicu poisons – alcohol, commercial tobacco, prescription drugs and illegal drugs were all introduced to us by the wasicu. It’s totally hypocritical for us to condemn everything the wasicu does when we are still using his poison to kill ourselves, in my opinion. Do you really want to be chained for the rest of your life to the deadly venom of the forked tongues? Find the strength now to quit because if you don’t, then the wasicu has you right where he wants you – addicted to the point where you are pretty much useless to anyone, especially your own family. That drink, smoke or pill is going to send you to an early grave.


So, what kind of role model are you going to be? It’s never too late to change your behavior to set a living example for your children and grandchildren. It’s up to you to set the standard for your family. I have a vision of all Lakota people living alcohol and drug free lives – just like our ancestors did in pre-Columbus times. I need your help to see this vision become real.


Wopila to the sober Lakota people, you are the strength of our Nation.