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  • This is one of art works that I made a few years ago. It's a buffalo horn spoon that has been carved, shaped and inlayed with sandstones and mother of pearl. The face that has been etched onto the polished horn is that of Sitting Bull. There is a famous photo of him with an old felt hat on and in the hat band he had placed a Monarch butterfly wing. Not too many people notice the wing because the photo is black and white and not in focus too good but, I saw it!

    When I look at this photo its very sad for me. I think about the time that this photo was taken and what Lakota People were having to endure at that time..... probably in the late 1880's. Sitting Bull was one of our greatest leaders and had the responsibility to lead the People. This was at a time that we were being murdered, having our land stolen, it had been forbidden to practice our spirituality, most of the buffalo had been wiped out and we were starving.... just about everything that we lived for was gone or taken away.

    I think of that Monarch wing in his hat, how did it get there, what was going on at that very moment. I imagine he was walking and looking down and wondering what the future held for his People. He came upon this Monarch that hadn't made the long journey Monarchs take every year to Mexico to be with their Oyate (family). He must have picked it up as gently as he could because everyone knows how fragile butterflies are and said a prayer over it and then put it in his hat band. This single gesture tells me a lot about what kind of man he was. I wonder how many world leaders today would even notice such a simple thing on the ground..... maybe one or two that I can think of.

    I have also had a very special encounter with a butterfly. I was told later by a medicine man that from that point on every time I would see a butterfly I would be reminded of our Lifeways. For the last 15 yrs. I have encountered Monarchs and Swallowtail butterflies at moments when it doesn't seem possible to see a butterfly. My wife also will see them the same time as I do. There could be a thousand people and a Swallowtail butterfly will fly over their heads and we will be the only ones who see it. It makes me think of the moment I first became aware. I think of love, my homeland, family and our lifeways. It keeps me grounded of who I am and where I am from. I cry sometimes at how such a simple thing can be so powerful and that I am gifted this experience and awareness to notice these special moments.

    When I carved this image on this buffalo horn it would make me smile the whole time. Surrounding Sitting Bull with this beautiful little Being, he obviously had a connection with, was kind of my way of putting him in a safe place and giving thanks. After all, even the Monarchs fly thousands of miles every year to a place they've never been to be with their own kind. This love that this small being shows is truly amazing. It shows the power of love and how it doesn't matter how small or large who's feeling it will do anything for it's relatives. It's really a miracle and because of great leaders like Sitting Bull who made the ultimate sacrifice for us to be here today.

    Everything is connected. We just need to be aware.
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