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  • When I was 14 in Oglala, I was taken from my parents traditionally to become in a warrior society. It was called the Tokala Society. Tokala Society was the old society that the warriors collected themselves in order to help them group to see how they would protect their people back then and in present time, we still have those societies to keep our identity for our young men, it is a young men's warrior society. They teach about protecting and providing, and we have a group of elders today that at the time they were trying to find out how we can be a warrior in protecting and providing in present time. They only had specific rules and traditions of doing it back in time, so it is really hard to give us types of tasks that we had to do. The ones I remember when its snowing, we get firewood for fires so that we can keep warm. or we go and we hunt for the people to have meat, because some families are so poor that they can't feed or they don't have jobs so we provide for them. We used to sit for up 5-6 hours a night with the young ones and the elders. About 2-2.5 hours were spoken in Lakota and the other two 2-3 hours they tell it in english to explain. The only time we got to leave is if we had to use the restroom, but we had to stay and listen and not fall asleep. They were very strict and they taught very humbly and more so it was we were scared, the way i remember is, the more humble and gentle you are, you were the most feared, because our warriors are frightened to go against respect. Many nights we would have those, but before we had them, they would come to the houses and the leaders of Tokala would talk in Lakota to our parents and tell them that they are taking them away now because we belong to the people now and we have to go through our warrior training and our initiation.

    In a way it was like our biological parents were knowing that they were losing their sons and that they have to give them up now. So the other part of the training was that we had to go up on the hill and fast for 2 days. We would have meetings and gatherings with Tokala's from all over, but the knowledge of the gathering wasn't out in the open for the community. The reason being that its an old knowledge of our past, and back then our past wasn't taken, it was taboo to think this way, because it was survival. The survival of it went against western society and western growth. As we got older, a lot of those elders and leaders, they died off. Our meetings stopped and the separation happened, and the knowledge became scarce. I seen a lot of my Tokala brothers and sisters give in to our enemy, which is alcohol and drugs.

    Now today the knowledge that I've taken myself is to learn our enemies tactics, and their education, and get to where we're not seen as equal, that is the higher job, the job with the higher money and the suit. Our enemy as in government world, the politicians, the people who are comfortable with being rich, the ones that have the right to say that money can go here or there - the higher ups, the hierarchy.

    Living today now, learning the education and trying to learn the tactics and knowledge, it's been so hard, and I've often wondered if I'm the only one that is doing it, if there is any body else. Because its almost taboo for our people to see other Natives working along side white people. So its almost like, on this journey of what we're supposed to be doing, I lost family and friends and I felt alone. I even called an uncle tom or an apple and I wasn't accepted, this was because I was trying to get education and knowledge. The more I wanted to try and tell people why I'm doing this, it's almost like the elders that do remember the old teachings of Tokala, were telling me to keep it quiet until I get to the top and I can help my people.

    Tokala didn't teach me how to be a father today and they didn't teach me how to be a husband or a partner, they didn't teach me how to sacrifice and keep on task with my everyday work. There's no teaching on how to have repetition in my every day life in the white society. They showed me how to get there, but in order to keep it, they didn't have those teachings or knowledge. I guess that the knowledge might have been coming, but they a lot of the Tokala teachings died off. So it's hard for me, I feel like I"m waiting to hear somebody else's story and I'm waiting to see if somebody has something in common with me on this, someone who has the same belief. Its almost literally, I have a lot of things I still want to get out. There's two parts of me, one is remembering how I need to be a Tokala, which in that world, in order to get on task and to do what you have to do, they don't have family's or children - because it's when you're younger - they teach you how to just take care of yourself; and that's one part of me. The other part is that today now I'm a father, a husband and trying to be a protector and provider for them, but I feel like I missed a lot on how to be a good father and husband, so I'm struggling. Without that young society task that I did have, I'm trying to find who I am. I am trying to find something that I believe so much in, like I did with the Tokala way. Now it's hard to find something that I feel so strongly about spiritually and emotionally, like I did the Tokala way of life.

    Now working alongside of the white people and learning the tasks, even on that side, I'm feeling the racism and the unwanted, like I'm not even supposed to be where I'm at there either. My knowledge of learning all these years of being hidden inside the white society, I've gotten so good, that at the jobs where the Native people aren't in hierarchy, I have become the supervisor or manage things. In all together, it's been lonely, like nobody knows where I've been, nobody has seen what I've seen.

    The real history of our people, is about sitting and being patient and waiting to be heard. So if you want to hear our history you're going to have to slow your life down, and you're going to have to have all sense to hear, you're going to have to smell, if you're sitting down for coffee you're going ot have to smell their coffee, watch the sun go down, watch the grass grow, go through a series of emotions. You can't hear our culture under a title, you have to hear our culture when your body and spirit hears it. Your human form is too crazy right now, its not all there, you're funny, it's not all there. But your spirit is when your spirit hears it and you'll actually know.

    That's why i believe in 2 different things, the human ear hears and it dies off when they do, but the spirit remembers and it takes with it and goes on to the next person. Its almost like reincarnation, our spirits live in ceremonies. See, that knowledge goes on. In other words, do I want to talk to someone who is balancing chairs, and say, "oh tell me about being Lakota". or do i want to sit with someone awho has their ear facing towards you and is listening with their heart and mind.

    The culture of our Lakota history was all about how to survive. but that doesn't teach us anything about how to be now, how to live with one another. We're still in survival. How are you going to have identity when you are living in both survival modes - paying your bills and also my old traditional teachings. its almost like cavemen who are keeping a flame and walking through all the different weather and they can't let it blow out while there traveling back to their families.
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