See that picture up there, it was taken by a family friend Father Bucko,an anthropologist. I met him in high school. He stayed around these parts long enough to learn our language and then moved onto Creighton University. I think we are the only family with a family priest and none of us are Catholic.
Anyway that picture is of Red Shirt Table, north of here. You drive along on this road and all of a sudden BAM, in the middle of the prairie is that. It is beautiful, kind of like a mini grand canyon. Badlands that were formed during the ice age and are probably loaded with dinosaur fossils. Although fossil hunting here is illegal. Anything found must be turned into the government, who in turn profits from it. Since we are on federal land...which always confuses me, if it is our reservation then why can't we profit from it. Why does the government only get to say who fossil hunts here? Anyway Red Shirt table and the badlands here are beautiful. (even where the bombing range is, where the government used to test bombs back in the day) They survived this long. Someday when they ice cap melts thanks to that aqua net, I spray back in the 80's, we will be the fossils. But among this land lives a proud people whose culture has survived amongst the dinosaur graveyards.
We still have our culture.
That simple sentence up there means the world to me.
I received this package in the mail on Friday, it had been sitting there for like a week. So I finally catch the office when it is open and they find it somewhere in the back. It is addresses to my dad and I. And it says under our names Oglala Sioux Tribe and under that it says U.S.A.
It is from some British guy in Japan. He was on Larry King and GMA and various other shows for walking across the continents or something. He;s a professor. He sent us a DVD of his accomplishments. And showed how he made the government apologize for all they did to Indians in the past. Now mind you it wasn't any bigwig in the government, just a BIA bigwig who apologized on his knees even on behalf of the B.I.A. (Bureau of Indian Affairs.) This apology was never made public or anything...oh well, It's not like we expected it after hundreds of years anyway.
So this guy is all about cultural revival.
And I am thinking.
We have our culture.
Not all of us, because believe me ignorance is everywhere and there are a bunch of ignorant Indians too. People that think the old ways are just that...old.
But when I think of how I always grew up around our religion when I was a kid. I would go to my grandpa's for ceremonies, I have felt the liveliness of the ceremonies, spirits and Inipi, which is a sweat lodge ceremony. I can speak about how ceremonies affected me with the same passion a born again speaks of Christ. It is just our ways. the ways of my people that live on.
Despite the government's ban on our ways, they survived. And it is up to us to keep them going. I am thankful my dad has chosen to take the path that he has to pass it on to the grandchildren. For I could think of no other way I would rather raise my children.
Someday I hope they be just as proud to say...
We have our culture.