Longhorn Complex Fire on Rosebud Reservation at 21% containment

The Longhorn Complex started on Thursday, July 19, 2012, and has been burning actively since then. This Complex initially started as four separate fires that have now burned into two fires. The Beads Creek Fire is estimated at 6,093 acres and The Longhorn Fire is estimated at 1,443 acres. Containment for this complex of fires is now at 21 percent. Lighting is the cause of both fires.

The Iron Shell Fire, which started burning at 2:40 pm this afternoon has forced the evacuation of 50 residences in the Spring Creek Community. Evacuation Centers have been opened at the St. Francis Community Center and the St. Francis Indian School Gymnasium. This fire is located in steep, rough terrain and is estimated at 300 acres. Three Heavy Air Tankers and one single engine air tanker (SEAT) are being used in the suppression of the fire.

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C, a Type II Team, has assumed command of the Longhorn Complex Fire as of 6:00 p.m. Saturday, July 21, 2012. Incident Commander, Joe Lowe, stated at the nightly briefing, “We will continue to build on the successes of the local firefighters, they have done an excellent job with minimal resources.”

There is a chance of thunderstorms this evening, which may bring strong, gusty winds and could produce additional lightning. Firefighters will be working throughout the night, providing structure protection, patrolling the fire perimeter, and working to mop-up hot spots.

Road closures have been put in effect due to heavy smoke and safety concerns for firefighters and residents in the area. The following road closures are in effect:

  • At the junction of BIA 1 and BIA 7
  • At the junction of BIA 5 and BIA 7
  • At the junction of BIA 3 and BIA 7

Residents should expect to see smoke for several days and are encouraged to use caution on roadways as visibility may be limited. Persons with asthma or other breathing difficulties are encouraged to stay indoors or temporarily leave the area until smoke diminishes.

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3030/

Disease of the mind is an acute mental illness

Good health means a genuine commitment to total wellness. This means maintaining health in all aspects of our lives, including our innermost thoughts and emotions. A truly healthy human is one who is emotionally intelligent. Wikipedia defines emotional intelligence as “the ability, capacity, skill or a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.”

 

The lack of healthy emotions and thoughts will contribute to a totally preventable illness known to many as the disease of the mind. Chief Arvol Looking Horse once stated we “must realize this disease of the mind will spread even faster, if we don’t take control of our behavior.” It is disheartening to witness the actions of many people today as they exhibit the symptoms of extreme cases of disease of the mind.

 

In my opinion, a diseased mind is one that is poisoned by thoughts of denial, paranoia, violence, revenge, etc. The thoughts controlling a diseased mind are rampant with plots of retaliation. There is a true lack of discipline in a mind dominated with constant negative or violent thoughts. You are the only person in control of your thoughts. No one forces you to think these thoughts. No one!

 

When emotionally unhealthy adults throw temper tantrums or threaten/commit violent acts on others it is often a regression to the first time they were hurt as a child by the primary caregiver in their lives, in my opinion. For example, if an adult male was hurt by the female figure in his life when he was say, 5 years old or so, he reverts back to that age when angered and seeks revenge through violent thoughts or acts. I see this happening quite often among our people who are afflicted with the disease of the mind.

 

Consequently, the diseased mind encourages disrespect. A person who is afflicted with a diseased mind reveals their personal sickness through what they say about others. For instance, a diseased mind encourages many men to constantly conjure demeaning phrases, many filled with violent connotations, about the women of his tribe or family.

 

Much of today’s hard core rap/hip-hop music is marked by derogatory lyrics aimed at females. Also, a lack of education is apparent in a limited vocabulary marked by constant swearing. Limited education is compounded by ignorance in many instances. When rappers have to use four-letter words it shows what they lack as artists in terms of originality.

 

Stay in school and expand your vocabulary! It is never too late to learn new words! The more you learn the less chance you will succumb to living your life crippled by a diseased mind.

 

Also, it is a great sign of disrespect when the men who are widely recognized as either spiritual or elected leaders of our tribes feel they must spread lies about their own people. It is very disrespectful when a Lakota man who professes to be a spiritual or political leader assaults the mother of his children or threatens to physically attack other women and elders. It all goes back to their state of mind.

 

The mind is very powerful. Your own violent mind can convince you that an obvious lie is really a truth to be upheld! Listen to what people say because it is usually what they are thinking. Again, your mind will convince you of things which are not real. This is the nature of the disease of the mind; one’s own distorted thought process convinces him/her of the righteousness of violent acts and behaviors.

 

The story of Pte San Win is about the spiritual maiden who appeared to two men bearing a very sacred gift. One of the men was afflicted with disease of the mind. Still, she allowed him to approach even though he harbored a violent thought. When he got close enough, he was engulfed in a cloud. When the dust cleared the maiden remained untouched while all that was left of the disrespectful man was a pile of bones.

 

We do not deserve to be threatened or hurt with physical violence. Our children deserve better. As mothers, it is our responsibility to protect our children from situations where there are people afflicted with the disease of the mind. Disease of the mind can be classified as an acute mental illness, in my opinion. Adding drugs and/or alcohol to someone with an acute mental illness is not a good idea.

 

As women we are looked upon as the caretakers of our children. When a woman makes the choice to bear a child, she accepts responsibility for that child’s well-being. You brought a life into this world and must care for the life you created. No one else is responsible for your children. No one!

 

The entities and people who are not responsible for the children you create are the tribe, the state, your parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family. They do not hold the primary responsibility to ensure the well-being of your child. You alone are responsible for the children you have. Our children are precious but it seems as though we have totally forgotten this as many little ones are suffering.

 

Today we make many excuses in order to enable parents who do not want to care for their children. We might see mothers/fathers with alcohol, drug or relationship problems. We justify their addictions and believe they cannot care for their children. We accept the fact that many of our own children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care.

 

You have no excuse to lose your children. If you do not have the means or desire to care for a child, you have to think twice before engaging in the activity leading to pregnancy. Honor both yourself and the life you create when you have children.

 

My prayers are always with the spirits of innocent children who die a violent death at the hands of their family members or other caregivers.

White Plume attending United Nations Seminar

Owe Aku International Justice Project (“IJP”) is participating with the guidance of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, which is led by Chief Oliver Red Cloud, in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 3rd Seminar on Treaties. Chief Red Cloud personally signed the intervention. This 3rd Seminar, using the UN Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements, completed by the late and highly respected Cuban diplomat, Miguel Alfonso Martinez, is called “Strengthening Partnership Between Indigenous Peoples and States: Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements.” It will be at UN Headquarters in Geneva 16-17 July 2012.

Owe Aku International Justice Project’s conference room paper and supporting annotation can be found at www.oweakuinternational.org/Owe_Aku_IJP/3rd_UN_Seminar_on_Treaties.html

The intervention and conference room paper is personally signed by Chief Red Cloud and is being carried to the United Nations in Geneva by the Eyapaha, or Spokesperson, for the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, Alexander White Plume.

The primary purpose of the conference room paper was for the Lakota Oyate to explore, within the United Nations, action-oriented mechanisms based on creative solutions to enforce international treaty law. Imposing sanctions, diplomatic pressure and international court proceedings have all been suggested. The Lakota Oyate is ready to stand up in defiance of colonial arrogance and suggest that the violation of international law by the United States is, for example, no different than the violation of international law by Iran. We invite Indigenous peoples and nations, with or without treaties, along with member nations with a sense of justice, to join with us in this struggle.

The Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council is the traditional governing body of the Lakota Nation, sometimes referred to as the Lakota Oyate or the Sioux Nation (“Sioux” is the colonial term). Historically and contemporarily, the Lakota Oyate has provided some of the strongest resistance to the United States government’s continued efforts to deny our inherent sovereignty and illegally invade and colonize our people, territory and resources. We were never defeated by the United States militarily and in 1868 they were forced to enter into a nation-to-nation treaty with the Lakota Oyate. The treaty stands in full legal force and effect under the United States Constitution, a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and the United Nations Study on Treaties, Agreements and Other Constructive Arrangements.

For further information you may contact:
Kent Lebsock
Director
Owe Aku International Justice Project
for Lakota Treaty Justice & Advocacy
oweakuinternational@me.com
646-233-4406
646-395-1617 (fax)
www.oweakuinternational.org

We are the Ancestors of the Future

The Indigenous people of Mother Earth have been doing ceremony since the beginning of time. All over the world there are Indigenous people still hosting the life renewing rites known as ceremony. Where would the human race be without the prayers offered by the people who continue to conduct powerful ceremonies?

 

The 19th and 20th centuries saw countless attacks upon the spirituality and way of life of the Indigenous peoples. This was the era when our Turtle Island was overrun by swarms of human beings from other continents. These initial encounters with unscrupulous people from other areas of the world were not very good for us.

 

Our ancestors witnessed the murder of their families and the destruction of their homes. We have to remember that our ancestors were probably very trusting people. When they first encountered the newcomers they most likely saw no reason to not trust them. It must have been very painful to realize they had been tricked in more ways than one by the strange, white-skinned humans.

 

I do not blame my ancestors at all for the choices they made. I am grateful to them because without their ability to look ahead to the coming generations none of us would be here. If our ancestors could see what we have become, they might have taken greater steps to resist the demands of the wasicu.

 

One option would have been to not surrender at the military posts which were established throughout Indian Country. If that had happened we definitely would not be here today as our people would have starved to death. Some of the east coast tribes disappeared this way. The starvation of our peoples was a master plan of the invaders.

 

The Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island weren’t supposed to survive. Our ancestors stood bravely against the many violations they suffered. Their spiritual intelligence kept our ceremonial way of life alive during those very dark times.

 

My grandparents were among the first Indian children sent to boarding schools. They learned how to speak English. They learned to read and write. They were also used as slaves in the missionary schools they attended.

 

For example, they went to classrooms for half of a day and then they learned a trade for the rest of the school day. This trade was working for the mission by taking care of gardens, tending to animals, working in the fields, building things, sewing clothes, doing laundry, cleaning the buildings and cooking the food.

 

There was also time in each day which was allocated for going to church and learning either Catholic or Episcopal prayers. My parents were raised Catholic so this is what they taught me. I learned these religions are based on fear.

 

Our people who attended the mission schools in the beginning were taught that our prayers to Creator were evil. Ceremonies were held to worship deities of the dark, according to the church leaders. This carried over into modern times as we still have preachers on our reservations who believe that Lakota spirituality is akin to demon worship. They seek to instill fear. Some preachers use intimidation by threatening us with an afterlife of never ending pain if we continue to pray in our ceremonies.

 

The government also continues to work against the ceremonial way of life which Indigenous people have carried on for centuries. For example, there have been stories in the news recently regarding the US Forest Service and how they have stifled ceremonies on both the west coast and in the southwest. Even when tribal people obtain the proper permits to basically pray upon their own land, they are still bothered by government or state employees.

 

For instance, the Winnemem Wintu tribe in California has been harassed for many years over a Coming of Age ceremony they conduct. Last week, members of the tribe who participated in the ceremony were issued citations by the US Forest Service for supposedly violating the closure of a portion of the river which is included in the ceremony.

 

Another instance of harassment took place when the US Forest Service extinguished a ceremonial fire on the San Francisco Peaks. I realize that this summer is one of many raging fires in several parts of the country. But a ceremonial fire with experienced keepers should not be viewed as a threat. There are prayers which go into the starting of these sacred ceremonial fires. I suppose it is way too much to expect employees of the US Forest Service to understand this. After all, they are bound by their government rules and regulations which are totally devoid of culture and spirituality.

Recently, my family participated in a Coming of Age ceremony hosted by my Ihanktonwan relatives east of the Missouri River. I cannot comprehend being harassed at ceremony as it is something I have never experienced. Still, I learned that cabinet-level officials employed by the state of South Dakota and others have harassed the Ihanktonwan over the use of the grounds where they hold the summer ceremonies. The harassment by government officials and their employees is a continuation of the genocidal tactics used on our ancestors in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

Some of our own people lack the understanding regarding the importance of ceremony. For instance, the Coming of Age ceremony held for young ladies who reach puberty is crucial to their well-being.

 

In today’s society many of our people do not teach their own children healthy behaviors. Our ceremonies are the only way for us to instill essential teachings into our children. Our Lakota/Dakota/Nakota girls who complete a Coming of Age ceremony have a much greater chance of walking gracefully into womanhood than the girls who do not experience this rite.

 

Always think of yourself as an ancestor. Stand bravely in these difficult times we face. Please pray for the descendants so they can one day carry on the same ceremonial way of life which you are now living.

 

 

 

Police respond to possible kidnapping call

Residents of the Rosebud Reservation were speculating about what happened on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Bank in Mission, SD. Several people were reporting that there had been a robbery at the bank.

 

However, law enforcement officials received a call from one of the bank tellers who reported a possible kidnapping. Police responded to the call which turned out to be unfounded. There was no bank robbery. Thank you to law enforcement officers who responded to the call and made sure everyone was safe.

Cante Ohitika Okodakiciye now has over 100 members

Today the majority of our people live in a world of unending violence. We have several communities on the rez where violence is totally out of control. Many of our people also live in homes with family members who act on their violent thoughts and regularly abuse those who cannot stand up for themselves.

 

Our young people and children are hurting one another because they have witnessed the adults thoughtlessly commit violent acts in front of them. Violence can manifest in many ways. For instance, this week America observes their Independence Day on the 4th of July. This time of year brings out what seems like a million fireworks vendors marketing dangerous Chinese made products loaded with flammable black gunpowder.

 

Consequently, those fireworks are being used by young adults, teenagers and children to purposely hurt one another in our communities this week. Many young people are awake all hours of the night shooting one another in the streets with bottle rockets or artillery shells. There are also innocent people who are being kept awake all night because there is so much noise from the fireworks explosions. During this fireworks season pray for everyone to be safe, please.

 

Another area of extreme violence which is also exploding can be seen within the circles of our teenaged girls. Our girls learn how to act by imitating the many women in their families and communities who prefer to walk through their lives as violent role models. Women who physically assault other women are successfully teaching our precious girls to viciously fight one another.

 

My hands are tools. I use my hands to write this column every week. And like most women, I prepare meals for my family with my hands. It isn’t right to hit someone with the same hands I prepare food with. Furthermore, it seems as though your prayers are rendered useless when you assault someone with the very same hands you use to make your prayer ties with. As Lakota women we would do much better as conscious, non-violent role models for our daughters and granddaughters. No one else is going to teach our girls how to do good things with their hands.

 

This violence amongst our girls is glaringly apparent in the countless videos on Facebook and You Tube which feature many young ladies using their hands to hurt one another. These assaults are happening in school restrooms, on the streets and in our homes. It seems as though our children have nothing better to do than fight and post up their violent encounters online like they are part of some kind of sideshow. These videos are very real and often extremely violent. I believe our young people are seeking the attention they lack at home by uploading these videos to be viewed by the entire online world.

 

Most of the violence we are witness to stems from the subculture of addiction which manifested during the era when our people were forced onto reservations. Violence is an addiction all by itself, in my opinion. There are many people who have overcome their addiction to substances or behaviors but they are still very violent in their thoughts and actions. They are the people regularly terrorize their family members.

 

Columnist Chris Hedges states “Violence is a disease, a disease that corrupts all who use it regardless of the cause.” So if violence is a disease; what is the cure? It is up to us to cure our society by breaking this vicious cycle of violence. We can start working to change our thought process to one influenced by peace instead of violence. Only you can change your thought process. And when you seek the path of healing it really does help to have a healthy support system.

 

One example of a healthy support system is Lakota/Dakota/Nakota ceremony. Our people do various ceremonies, both public and private, all year round. Summer is when our sun dance is held. This is also the time of year when the Ihanktonwan Cante Ohitika Okodakiciye (Brave Heart Society) hosts the Isnati Awica Dowanpi.

 

The mission of the Brave Heart Society is: “To enhance and preserve the Dakota/Nakota/Lakota culture for coming generations, thereby creating strong, competent, worldly families with a strong foundation of values, morals, and worldview.” I believe this mission statement succinctly states what we could all be working toward as Indigenous people.

 

I hear many of my own Lakota people state that the women’s ceremonies are lost. This is not true as I was part of a most powerful women’s ceremony last week. I watched eleven young ladies spend four days praying and learning skills which will help them get through life as competent Lakota/Dakota/Nakota women. It was a very powerful experience for them. I was very happy to see them embrace their own way of life.

 

These young ladies are now part of the Cante Ohitika Okodakiciye, which has seen over 100 members complete the Isnati Awica Dowanpi. This ceremony is held to acknowledge puberty. Those who participate are given a myriad of teachings to help them move through their adult lives better equipped to deal with womanhood. Our young women were shown how to use their hands in productive ways. These young ladies are role models which even women my age could learn something from.

 

I watched these young ladies complete tasks which many Lakota people believe are no longer possible. These young ladies matured in many ways over their four day ceremony. One day in the future, they will be the women who continue the teachings of the Isnati Awica Dowanpi so their granddaughters can learn the same life skills they did.

 

I want to say Wopila to the Sisters, Moms, Aunties and Grandmas who supported their girls throughout the Isnati Awica Dowanpi. I also want to thank the organizers of the Cante Ohitika Okodakiciye for their valuable work in ensuring that our women carry on the teachings left for us by our Lakota/Dakota/Nakota ancestors.

 

 

 

 

Purify your heart while you still have time

A family I know is going through some drama. Now this is nothing new because we all know about drama on the rez and how it affects our families. I believe it is better to stay out of other peoples’ issues as I have enough of my own to tend to.

 

In other words, I work hard to mind my own business. It would be great if everyone who lived on the rez would do this too. But, you and I both know those people who just have to meddle in the affairs of others.

 

I guess the only time I might get involved with the drama people surround themselves with is when the actions of the adults have a negative impact on children. I will not hesitate to call the proper authorities when I witness children being hurt.

 

Anyway, I really didn’t know what was going on with this family until recently. Then I was approached by a man one day a couple of weeks ago while I was at the post office checking my mail. He asked me if I knew anything about a woman being involved in drugs. I said I didn’t know because I don’t hang out with people who use drugs. He told me that he realized that but he wanted to ask me about her anyway. He went on to say derogatory things about her.

 

I didn’t respond to the things he said about her because I don’t see the point in worrying about what someone else is doing in their life. And I especially don’t want to be caught up in whatever rough times a family is trying to work through. So I have no idea why this man, who is not a tribal member, approached me in public to bash one of our Lakota women.

 

This Lakota woman is someone I know on both a personal and professional level. Last week I went to visit with her about a great many things, including the questions the non-Indian man had been asking about her. During the course of sharing information with her, I learned this same man had also made derogatory statements about me.

 

Article I of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 reads in part: “If bad men among the Indians shall commit a wrong or depredation upon the person or property of any one, white, black, or Indian, subject to the authority of the United States, and at peace therewith, the Indians herein named solemnly agree that they will, upon proof made to their agent and notice by him, deliver up the wrong-doer to the United States, to be tried and punished according to its laws; and in case they willfully refuse so to do, the person injured shall be reimbursed for his loss from the annuities or other moneys due or to become due to them under this or other treaties made with the United States.”

 

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe also has an exclusionary law against non-members. Tribal members can file petitions in tribal court to banish non-members who cause trouble on our homelands.

 

Recently, I wrote about people who manipulate others to get what they want. In this case, a non-Indian man is running from person to person telling lies about Lakota women. He manipulates information to make people look bad.

 

I realize there are many people like him on our rez. Eventually, people do figure out who is not truthful. Liars lose credibility with many people. It’s like that story about the boy who cried wolf.

 

I suppose people who have a lot of time on their hands feel they have to be doing something. But it’s a shame when they use their time snooping around other peoples’ private lives. Maybe they think they are doing some kind of good by going from person to person trying to find out what is going on in someone else’s life. In my opinion, they wind up looking like a busybody. What they are doing is wrong and can hurt people. And they look totally foolish!

 

There will always be people who make it a mission in their life to hurt as many people as they can. I am not sure what their actions accomplish. In the end we all have to face the Creator who can see what is in our heart. Will you face your maker with a pure heart? There is still time to purify yourself from all the wrong you have done against other people.

 

Furthermore, our children see all of this. They are the primary witnesses to the dysfunction of the adults in their lives. And so many of them quickly learn how to gossip, lie, backstab and spread rumors like their adult role models do. In fact, they believe it’s normal and acceptable to be like this because that is what the adults are showing them. It’s bad enough when our own people set bad examples. It’s even worse when we also have non-members living amongst us who are also poor role models.

 

Our children deserve to grow up in peaceful, drama-free homes. They deserve to be raised by healthy adults. Only those people who have a real mean streak will spend their precious time trying desperately to dig up dirt on other people. Do not treat others with animosity because you teach your children to act the same way.

 

Finally, Lakota women are sacred. In more ways than one there would be no tribe without the backbone of the women. I really do not appreciate some non-Indian man telling lies about us. Time grows short and we should be cleaning up our own lives. Still, I have seen the karma of personal choice hit people in ways they would not expect. Be careful because it seems as though karma has a quicker turnaround time now.

 

Even if you are in denial about what really lives within your own heart, remember that the Creator can see it all.

Fire in Rosebud’s Timber Reserve under investigation

A fire fueled by high winds charred approximately 305 acres of timber and grass on the Rosebud Reservation.

 

The fire, which began late in the day on June 14, remains under investigation. Local firefighters initially had the blaze under control that same evening. However, the fire flared up on Friday morning in an area marked by deep canyons filled with Ponderosa Pine trees.

 

The fire, which started about 1/4 mile west of Chases the Woman Dam, was approximately 80% contained as of Sunday morning, according to Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Officer Dana Cook. Two hand crews from Rosebud were joined by eight other crews from the surrounding area to work non-stop in digging a line around the center of the blaze.

 

The South Dakota National Guard provided crucial assistance in fighting the blaze by providing air support. Officials credit the aircraft for helping ground crews halt the progress of the fast moving fire. A Black Hawk helicopter spent several hours carrying water from Chases the Woman Dam in a 600 gallon bucket to dump on the blaze.

 

During the height of the fire, officials took safety precautions by closing BIA Road 5 to local travel. Several residents of the Grass Mountain Community were also asked to evacuate their homes on Friday. The request was made as a precaution because the fire jumped established lines due to the high winds. Communities on the west side of the Rosebud Indian Reservation saw large quantities of smoke blowing through from the fire on Friday.

 

The RST Emergency Preparedness Program was activated to assist with the needs of fire fighters. Command centers were established at the Rosebud Fire Hall and Ghost Hawk Park to provide support services to firefighters. The entire burn area will be monitored for at least a week.

 

For more information please contact Dana Cook at the Rosebud BIA Fire Department, he can be reached by calling (605) 747-2700.

 

Our children need prayers…

I always welcome summer by offering a special prayer with tobacco and water at the solstice on June 21. Many Lakota people also celebrate the time of solstice with ceremony, song and prayer. Our ancestors came together to complete the sacred sun dance to mark the beginning of another year. Back then there was only one sun dance and the people traveled from the four directions to pray together. Today things are very different.

 

A while back, there was a documentary made which focused on the Rosebud Reservation. The film is called Rape on the Reservation. The piece was done by Vanguard and is described as: “One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where the growing sexual assault epidemic has finally escalated to murder.” The full episode can be viewed online at http://current.com/shows/vanguard/92468120_rape-on-the-reservation.htm

 

The Internet has transformed our world into a very small place. What used to be privy to us on the rez is now available for anyone with a computer and online access to watch. Many people from all parts of the country and world have already viewed the documentary.

 

There are many people in this world who still think of our people as savages. And after watching the documentary I can see why the world sees us as still being savage. Many of our young people are raising themselves. They are often left to fend for their own meals while their primary caregivers are out drinking alcohol, using drugs, gambling or pursing a member of the opposite sex. Nowadays we see many adults on our reservations put aside their children in favor of these unhealthy activities. This is not the Lakota way.

 

The online documentary also shows the attitudes of some of our people. The mindset of some of our Lakota boys and girls, in my opinion, is unacceptable. But this is the reality of life on the reservation where violence, alcoholism and drug addiction are the norm. When you are living on the reservation I suppose you become accustomed to the violence happening all around you. And if you experience violence from your parents then of course it will seem normal.

 

Is this how we are to instill the Lakota virtue of strength in our children? By acting out every violent thought we have? How sad for our children who are regularly referred to as sacred by many of us. We do not really consider our children precious if we are exposing them to extreme violence on a regular basis.

 

The same goes for our women. A woman is not really sacred if you are her partner and are physically, verbally, mentally, spiritually or sexually assaulting her on a regular basis. Our ancestors did not instill Lakota values into our great-great-great grandparents by beating them. Beating on children was learned during the boarding school era.

 

Still, after witnessing countless violent crimes and being a victim of beatings inflicted by their own parents, our sacred children might think it is normal to act out in violence. Thus, our children grow up with violent thoughts which soon manifest through their behavior. Our boys and girls watch their parents engage in violent physical altercations all the time. No wonder our reservations are the way they are.

 

It is up to us to change the conditions of our reservations. I love living on the Rosebud Reservation. I have spent a lot of time contemplating how I can change things. But I can only change myself. I cannot change anyone else. I cannot tell anyone how to behave. We are role models whether we want to be or not. We teach our Lakota children how to act through our behavior. Are you behaving the way you want your children to act when they are your age?

 

One thing I can do is write these words and remind everyone that our children watch every move we make. Our children watch us drink all that alcohol and consume all those drugs. Our children sit at home alone and they get very angry when their parents are spending all the money on gambling, drinking alcohol or buying drugs. When you lose all your money gambling or spend all your money on alcohol/drugs, there is no money left to provide a simple meal for your children. Hungry children grow up to be angry adults.

 

In my opinion, many of our people on our reservations are living in an alcoholic subculture. This subculture is not Lakota. This foreign subculture is created by both the conditions of our reservation along with our personal choices to engage in unhealthy behaviors which are most definitely not Lakota.

 

For example, I went to a local rodeo last weekend. A couple parked near us were drinking and fighting in front of their children. In fact, there were many people drinking openly. I watched many of the people who had been drinking alcohol all day get behind the wheel and drive away with their children in the car after the rodeo was over. There were no designated drivers.

 

I am grateful for our Lakota people who choose not to perpetuate the alcoholic subculture. Thank you to the sober parents I saw at the rodeo. Your children appreciate you.

 

Once again, I ask all of you who are preparing for your annual sacrifice in the sun dance to pray hard for our Lakota people, especially our children, women and all the unborn generations. Call upon the ancestors who danced in the ceremonies of long ago on these same lands to hear your prayer and see your sacrifice for the children of today.

 

It was the prayers of long ago that brought us this far, let’s continue that powerful prayer of our strong Lakota ancestors so our children can once again see the day when they will experience what it is like to live a happy, sober, non-violent life.