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  • Once, my hunka relative gave me a button pin which read

    "I have survived damned near everything."

    He also gave me a patch with a parachutist which read:

    "Survivor: Rare Breed"

    For me, these are especially true. It is true of our people in general who went through very difficult times --I think more so than many other Native Americans because they fought back and because it was some of our ancestors who killed Custer. Even to this day in the surrounding areas around the reservation where places have been named for Generals like Harney and Custer and where four American President faces have been carved into our sacred mountains generating tourism from around the world, it is difficult for our people to go off of the reservation because of the history, wrong perceptions and racism.

    It is especially true for our full-blood people who are usually the poorest of all and who are not talked to much, if at all, by the outsiders who come to visit our reservation. Those who weren't born into the right families have next to no chance at being fulfilled, no education, no employment and not even a family.

    It was true for me in my life which was filled with poverty and tragedy and things people and especially children should never have to see.

    It was true for my father who was in the 11th Airborne and who jumped out of airplanes while people shot at him during World War II only to come home to lose his wife who was hit by a car and his unborn son. He had to quit his job because his sons were being abused by other people and so he raised them on his own. Later, like his wife, he was hit by a car but survived long enough to see his eldest son also tragically killed by a car.

    It was true for our relatives who were nearly massacred at Wounded Knee in 1890.

    It was true even before my great-great grandfather and his people were killed at Wounded Knee. They survived starvation and disease, being on the run and much more.

    Despite having come from generations of people where truly terrible things happened and having lost my whole family, I AM grateful I have had a second chance at life. I still can't believe I have a family again and a beautiful baby girl.

    I never imagined how much my life would change and I pray that the truly good Lakota people back home --the ones who despite all the difficulty in living on the reservation tried to live by our traditional Lakota values --I pray sincerely that they will be blessed with happiness and the things that matter most to them. And I pray for healing for all of our Lakota people.

    Mitakuye Oyasin... All my relations.
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