Monday, January 15, 2007
This week's entry to my column
This is my latest contribution to the weekly newspaper I work for. You can find it online at www.lakotacountrytimes.com
Be That Person.
This week on January 15th, we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. as a National Holiday. I don’t even have to write and tell you of the accomplishments of Dr. King and what a great man he was. We all know this, as a nation. Well, except for in Rushville, NE, where they don’t observe the holiday and still send the kids to school. Don’t ask me why? I questioned them so much about it last year, but never got an answer. Though I can say, after living there for a year, I am not surprised.
Anyway, Dr. King was a powerful speaker, no matter who you were or what color you are, you believed in yourself and your abilities after listening to him speak. He was so powerful, I believe, that his power radiated off of him and spread to those around him.
I remember seeing Rev. Jesse Jackson when he came to Pine Ridge, back when I was a youngster. I remember how when he spoke, the people responded and really believed, as he said…that they are somebody. I can still hear the crowd chanting “I am somebody.”
I once talked to an elderly lady about this and she told me “We Indians just don’t have anyone powerful enough to speak for us like that. How can we advance when there is no one powerful to motivate us like that?”
I didn’t answer her of course, only listened. I don’t know where you’re from, but where I’m from you don’t answer elders like that.
I did ponder on it and let it simmer for a few years. I believe that with over 500 tribes
in North America, and even 8 different reservations here in South Dakota, finding one person to speak for all of us, as a people, when we all have so many different issues, would be hard.
I don’t know how it is where you’re from, but where I’m from my immediate-extended family can’t even get along for more than 3 months straight. We will all be getting along fine and next thing you know there is a silent fight over who was not included in the recent casino outing, or who owes who a block of cheese.
So with that being said, how do we as the Native people of America look up to one person to speak for all of us. We have many different tribes, reservations, nations, etc., over this vast land, how do we unite long enough under one person? How do we find that one person to make us realize we are somebody? To make us see that we can make a difference? To show us that we can make this world a better place?
I say that one person is within our selves.
We are the person that can change the world. We can start right here at home.
We are the person that can show the world what strong people we come from. We can show the world how we can make a difference on our reservations, for our children, and for ourselves.
To make a difference, you don’t have to give a speech. You can make a difference by doing small things around your community everyday. Things that show you are proud of who you are and where you come from. Run an errand for an elder, pick trash, volunteer.
(I would highly recommend picking trash, as a sign blew in my yard last week that said Indian Tacos with a big arrow under it, and it was pointing at my door. The last thing I need is a line at my front door.)
Anyway my point is, instead of waiting for that person that is strong enough to make a difference, be that person.
As Dr. King says…
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.