Monday, October 12, 2009

Native American Day

In many places today people are enjoying a holiday from work and school, and typically it is known as Columbus Day. Here in South Dakota we celebrate Native American Day, a day set aside by our former Governor George Mickelson in his declaration of a decade of reconcillation. That decade has come and gone and I'm not sure how much reconcillation has been achieved but I am proud to have a day that celebrates my heritage. My Father was half Indian and my mother is white, which makes me a quarter Indian. I grew up on the Indian reservations in South Dakota and my family is from the Oglala Lakota Tribe. I grew up with a respect and love for a beautiful culture and have made an effort to learn about the traditions, beliefs and values of Indian people. It is with pride that I remember my ancestors on this day and think about the values and beliefs that shape my life. A belief that all things are sacred, whether it be the earth, the skies, the animals, or humans. That there is a circle of life, the circle is important in Indian culture, in early days their homes were made of a circle, the camps were made in a circle, just as the birds made their homes in a circle. The cycle of life is a circle and in Indian culture the values of the circle include belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.

Children were raised with a sense of belonging, whether it was within their immediate family or the extended family called a tiospaye, which played an important role in their lives. Children were sacred and cared for by the entire tribe, they had a sense of belonging. They were gently instructed and trained in skills to acquire mastery for themselves in areas of their lives; independence was encouraged and lovingly supported and finally in all things generosity. Indian culture does not value acquiring material possessions, relationships were far more important and they only took what they needed. Sharing food, your home, or belongings was and is common. Growing up I remember anyone who ever came to our home was provided a meal and I also remember my father literally giving the coat off his back to those less fortunate.

My life has changed dramatically from what I knew in childhood, I have moved away from the reservation and acquired an education as my father encouraged. For all intents and purposes I have been successful in my life and enjoy the fruits of my labor. But today, I remember those lessons learned and honor my family and my tiospaye (extended family). Mitakuye Oyasin - This Lakota phrase means "we are all related." Kinship with all creatures above, below, and in the water is a living principle that gives the Lakota a feeling of safety in the world, as well as a feeling of reverence for all lives, a sense of purpose for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all, and above all an abiding love.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Bear, who is a beautiful black lab has been in our lives for the past 8 years. He has brought such joy and laughter to our home. We have loved him and he truly has been one of the best dogs I have ever had. Our other lab, Cordie, loved to lead Bear astray...Bear never left the yard or ran off when he was out of the back yard with us, but when or if he and Cordie got out together they ran, and ran, and ran. Sometimes they were gone for hours, we worried and we would be out looking scouring the neighborhoods for signs of them. They loved to follow the creek to the north end of town. Unfortunately Bear was injured on those wild outings, on more than one occasion. He tried hard to keep up with Cordie but she was a very fast runner and it was just too much for him. His back hip has bothered him for some time now and we took him to the vet last week, they said his hip is shattered and the ligaments and tendens shredded, we have spent the last 4-5 days trying to come to grips with the fact that it was time to put him down. The last two days for him have been difficult, he has cried and had trouble getting up the stairs, I hated to see him suffering so today my daughter, husband and I took him to the vet and had him put to sleep. It was very difficult to do but I am also glad he is no longer in pain.

I prayed that his good friend Abby, my daughters dog who died awhile back, was there to welcome him to heaven and that they are once again running, wrestling and playing together, pain free and enjoying the wonderful blessings of heaven. We will miss him terribly and it has been a very sad day for us.