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  • Lakota

    My name is Leon Red Kettle Jr; I live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I am half Oglala Lakota/Rosebud Lakota. I am currently a full-time student here at Oglala Lakota College located in Southwestern South Dakota. I have been asked to give some personal emphasis on "something beautiful about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation," So here is my perspective. So much of our people and culture have been steeped in contradiction for centuries, even into the modern day American psyche. Recently the impacts of our cultural problems have made headlines such as the festering White Clay Nebraska situation, Racism in the towns surrounding our borders have been on the rise, Suicides among our youth, Furthermore negative misconceptions have over-ruled the true essence of our heritage. Stereotypes and misinformed opinions flared by racism seem to over rule the truth about the true being of our culture. I want state that not all is as dismal as the media has been portraying it to be, yes alcoholism and poverty are ever so prevalent amongst our society along with the suicide rates, and unemployment the issues do go on. Statistical data seems to back up all these notions brought forth into the attention of current events, but in the midst of all notions our culture and beliefs remain intact.

    Amongst the multi-million dollar tourist and mining industries lies our most sacred of sights The Black Hills, Bear Butte and Pe’sla just to name a few, all of these places are considered to be the center of this planet to us, Our legends say that we indigenous people emerged from Wind cave located in Custer state park I think it's ironic that the park is named after a person who created such harm and pestilence. The Great Sioux Nation Consisting of bands from The Dakota, Nakota and Lakota had roamed freely following the vast herds of buffalo and game, Some were farmers dwelling in the woodlands to the east of the plains. The land base was greatly diminished after the Fort Laramie treaty and Manifest Destiny, what is now North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana in theory would have been our great "sioux," reservation. Many of our great chiefs such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Red Cloud have struggled and fought to keep these sacred sights’ and our way of life, free from desecration, the disputes continue on into this new millenia,

    In retrospect there are many things that are astounding about our reservation, from the fossil laden badlands to the rolling prairies and native wild life, one thing stands out among these wanders of nature! It’s the people of the Lakota tradition, still alive, ancient and powerful. I love it when the summer season begins bringing the return of the thunder beings (Wan’kiya) in our legends they are mystical and sacred in the form of the bird so (wan’kan) or holy, so mighty that when they flap their wings they cause the thunder you can here in the sky with their eyes burning with the energy of a thousand stars spewing out from their eyes which causes the lightning. They are said to be able to have the ability to create life and also to destroy it because they control the weather. So after the dead of winter subsides they bring back the rains that make everything green again thus turning the seasons of spring and summer over and renewing the cycle of life again. During this time also means the pow-wow season begins! I love going to watch the dancers and hear the music. My daughter also is learning our custom as a Jingle dress dancer. Contests for the best costume, best drum group are rewarded. There are nine districts on the reservation each host its own pow- wow during the summer season. With the Oglala Nation Pow-Wow/Rodeo in Pine Ridge being the largest, it happens annually during the last week of July. One can make a good living on attending and participating. People can sell their artwork, beadwork and a myriad of other personally made items. Almost every event has lunch and dinner provided by the community we are a culture that does not leave out the less fortunate. One can still buy an Indian taco or other items. The grand entry is an awesome sight, with all the dancers entering the circular arena all at once in a clockwise motion from the east. Usually veterans from all around our communities lead the way with the flag of the United States and our tribal flag. We have always been a nation of warriors and are proud to honor our akicita's or soldiers. So a beautiful thing about this reservation can be many things, for me it’s the culture and the struggle that comes with it. Being born and raised here has been a challenge. I left the reservation when I was younger to join the service, something lured me back here again. I always felt out of place out in society, I was confused, For a long time it didn’t occur to me what I was missing about this place, I realized some years ago it was my culture and my oneness to this place, this is the only place on earth that I can feel safe, like my ancestors before me, I too will live and die in my home land, This is where I belong and this is where I shall remain.
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