As I write this, there are no positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on either the Rosebud or Pine Ridge reservations. I check the State Health Department web site for daily updates. Health officials post new information as it comes in.
Even though there are no positive cases on either of our reservations that we know of, I also know there are many of you who are feeling fear, anxiety or both. Instead of feeling panic or fear, I want to encourage all of you to make sure your family is prepared to stay at home for an extended period of time, if need be. We know there are a lot of Lakota families who have no resources to prepare for any type of emergency. I do know our tribal officials are doing everything they can to stay on top of this pandemic. I see no reason to panic, especially if you are already healthy.
We’ve all seen the information being shared on television and many of you regularly listen to the radio. I don’t see a need for panic, fear or worry. Yet, some of you are accustomed to worrying about every little thing in your lives. There are others who are constantly afraid; these are our people who are now feeling the need to panic. However, fear, worry and panic won’t make it go away. Again, I suggest using your time to prepare as much as you can in order for your family to be safe until this pandemic is over.
President Rodney Bordeaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe called a meeting of Wicasa Wakan (medicine men) last week to ask for their help and guidance with the coronavirus (COVID-19). The meeting was attended by several local medicine men and the general public. The open discussion helped to calm the fears of many Lakota people who may be at risk for possible infection.
Our medicine people are interpreters. That is, they each have a Hocoka (altar) in which to conduct ceremony to help our people with guidance and healing. As Lakota people, we are very fortunate to still be connected to our spirituality. Our ancestors prayed with the Cannunpa (sacred pipe) for all of us alive today, as well as the unborn generations coming. The ceremonies Lakota people attend regularly are all connected to the gift of the Cannunpa.
Medicine men Leksi Leonard Crow Dog and Leksi Richard Moves Camp offered words of advice to everyone in attendance. Other Lakota people who pray every day also talked about our spirituality. The Lakota people who pray with the Cannunpa regularly, talked about how we’ve survived many illnesses and other incidents which could have killed us. Now is the time when we have to turn to the way of life our ancestors fought and died for.
Lakota people who attend Inipi and participate in hanbleceya, as well as the sun dance, understand the power of prayer. We must all make our prayer and have faith in it. Prayer is for naught if you do not have faith in what you are doing. This is the time when all Lakota people could be making their way back to the Hocoka on our reservations. Don’t be afraid. We are all Lakota. Our DNA contains the memory of praying in ancient ceremony running through our blood.
We are a fortunate people to still have our way of life. I encourage you to take this time we’ve been given to help our children understand what being Lakota really means. Pray for good health for everyone. Tunkasila hears the prayers of all Lakota people. We must all show the courage of our Lakota ancestors during this time of uncertainty. Mitakuye Oyasin.
Vi Waln (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist. She can be reached through email firstname.lastname@example.org