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REFLECTIONS - WOUNDED KNEE TODAY

Like many visitors to the Reservations, I wanted to see that most famous of Indian Places, Wounded Knee. It's about fifteen miles from Pine Ridge. Nothing remains of the small village once there. The tribe has put up a small development of homes and a scattering of dilapidated mobil homes all about. There is a small church, stone monuments on top of the hill and cemetery gates. In the gravel pullout by the road, some local folk sell beaded jewelry in moderate to good weather.

Just looking at the ravines, the cottonwood trees, belies the blood bath that took place here. If you go there, take off your shoes, or step gingerly with respect on this sacred ground. No voices, no running. Just reverence and quiet whispers are expected from visitors out of respect.

Wounded Knee, the event, has two dates: 1890 and 1973. The history of the Lakota over the last 121 years hangs onto these two dates. To simplify a very complicated issue, the 1890 massacre is prominent and pivitol in the larger history of America as well.The first marker, the massacre, was on December 29, 1890 (not so long ago, really, as my Grandmother was already eleven years old at this time), and my other grandparents were born in the 1880's and 1890's.

Shots broke out as a cavalry regiment was attempting to disarm Chief Big Foot's band of Minnecougou Indians camped on Wounded Knee Creek, and once the soldiers started shooting they didn't stop until well after all the Indians had fallen or run away. At least 146 Indians died, including 44 women and 18 children. Perhaps 30 soldiers also died.* (Ian Frazier/On The Rez). At least 146 members of Chief Big Foot's band are buried in a mass grave there. Estimates on the number killed, both United States troops and Indians are probably closer to 250 souls.

"You ask me to be a Lakota, And that is the hardest thing in the world to be. I am a Lakota. So I suffer for my people."

Whoever said that, could have been any individual on the Pine Ridge or Rosebud.

My heart has taken me much deeper into Indian Country than I ever expected. I can just close my eyes and imagine myself tucked way inside the tall waves of grass. I can smell it. So beautiful and sweet and mysterious. Out here is so special and spiritual. You follow the lazy turns of the eagles or hawks circling high above. The breaks jut out of the grasses becken you to come explore them, sit atop them. They dare you. This whole land dares you.

This land has been walked by moccasins for centuries by a people and you are nothing new out here. And you know it. This IS THEIR LAND. ALL OF IT. What is 150 years compared to at least 10,000 years of people residing here, moving along to follow the game and the season and moons, living, dying?

In the wildness is the preservation of the world.

Henry David Thoreau

What is time? It doesn't count out here - except that it took only 60 years to take a whole culture and turn it on its head. How could we have possibly allowed this to happen? In America. On American soil. To Americans. Our First. Now, our last?

GRAY WOLF - THE SYMBOL OF OUR FOUNDATION

American Indians have always respected and shared their world with all natural beings, the "two-leggeds" and the "four leggeds", the winged and the finned, are all related according to Native Culture. The Wolf represents the direction of the East and is looked upon and admired as a teacher, a leader, a problem-solver, is devoted to its family, and has great endurance. It is wise, courageous, bold, swift and determined, in the hunt as well as in the fight. It can raise a rallying cry, has great heart and enduring spirit. And all these qualities were also found in the Lakota Sioux Chief, Crazy Horse, a true warrior, inspiring, persevering, looking out for others, stout-hearted, resolute, and a hero to his people. Few leaders have ever measured up to Crazy Horse' mettle. The young chief was at the top of his game at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

It is said that Crazy Horse wore a blue stone hanging from a string from his left ear for good medicine and protection. He also wore a single red tailed hawk feather on the back of his head. When in battle, he painted hail-stones on his pony, as well as a lightning strike zig-zag for good medicine for his steed as well.

We took the combination of Chief Crazy Horse' personal values and incorporated them into our lead wolf. He is calling the rest of the "pack" symbolizing human beings of all races - (note various colors of palm prints on the rest of the wolves following him) representing the Red, Black, Tan, White, and Yellow races of mankind, working together to stand together and help one another -- our Motto.

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Copyright National Geographic by Jim and Jamie Dutcher

Photo credit © National Geographic
Jim and Jamie Dutcher

Wolf I am.
Wolf I am endurance.
In darkness,
In light,
Wherever I run,
Wherever I search,
Wherever I stand,
Everything will be good because the Creator protects us.

Larry Lockwood,
Northern Cheyenne,
Riverton, Wyoming, 2009.

The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land.
We will consider your offer,
for we know if we do not, the white man may come with guns and take our lands.
How can you buy or sell the sky
- the warmth of the land?
These ideas are strange to us.
Yet, we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water.
Every part of the earth,
is sacred to my people.
When the buffaloes are slaughtered,
the wild horses all tamed or shot,
the secret corners of the forest
heavy with the scent of many men,
and all the views of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires, where is the thicket?
Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone.
Our God is the same God.
The earth does not belong to Man.
Man belongs to the earth. This we know.
All things are connected
like the blood unites one family.
The family of Man.

Chief Seattle,
Letter to President Franklin Pierce
Spiritual Ancestor of the modern Green Movement.

Wolf Pack