Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Russell Means Activist turned Actor

While visiting Russell Means the Activist turned Actor, I was allowed to ask many questions and it was a great honor.  My views of Mr. Means has moved to a lack of understanding or ignorance,  then to a full understanding and admiration for this Warrior.  Of course he is an elder and is a walking history book.  His knowledge of the past is very powerful and I believe one of the greatest American Indians to walk this earth. 
I was able to meet and become friends with Russell over the past ten years.  I was curious to understand the Man behind the "AIM Look".  He could walk in a room and it would be full of emotions.  He would litterally scare the life out of "White" Folk.   The Book Where White Men Fear to Tread is a great book of knowledge and stories.  He gave me a book and I asked him to write in the book to my dear friend, but he actually put,  "To my Young Friend".  Kola' is a very powerful word in Lakota and I appreciated the way Mr. Means considered me a friend.  Once when I asked him about him and the others ransacking the Wounded Knee buildings, he told me it was the feds that tore things down.  There is a cross in the back of the cemetary and I remember being told my Grandfather Gilbert Matthews put the cross back up with his friend.  It still stands today and is a powerful memory to know my relatives have been a strong part of the history of Wounded Knee.  I assumed the American Indian Movement tore down the cross but now I believe what Russell told me.  Afterall you need witness to make sure you get the truth, he was the key person in the takeover at Wounded Knee.  I did not develop a strong opinion on what was done at Wounded Knee but I realize now the Liberation of Wounded Knee has had a profound affect on the rest of American Indian life. 
I have been a strong advocate of Russell Means in the past few years because, that is what friends do.  Oh back to the "AIM Look", it has been a great way to impact the world.  The look has been around and it has scared people and made its point throughout the world. Russell told me the 60s and 70s did not know what to do with "Angry" Indians.  They took the world by storm and their War Cry was heard around the world.  It must have been a magnificent time to be alive.
This reminds me of Tony Fast Horse who would become Robert Grey Eagle.  Tony was studying at Tabor College a Christian College in Hilsboro, Kansas.  Tony came home at some point and told me he got off the bus and ran right into a Rally in Gordon, Nebraska.  Well it must caught his ear as he left Tabor College and joined the Movement.  He went on to get his law degree and returned much later and stood before a group of teenagers at the Gospel Fellowship and proclaimed to be a Christian.  Powerful words for a man who in his youth took up the cause of civil rights for Indians and became a lawyer and then returned to his roots of being a Christian.  I am proud to know these men and it is a little ironic because Robert Grey Eagle planned to become a minister and serve the Gospel Fellowship in Pine Ridge.  I am now the pastor of the church and have served almost two decades.  Ah, to be alive in the aftermath of the civil rights movement is powerful because it is the old ones who can tell you great stories of what took place in the early seventies and before.  These guys laid thier lives down so I could be free to have my faith.  So everytime you pass a canupa(pipe) or pierce and seek visions along with purification ceremonies know these men were willing to lay down their lives for the People.
 It was pretty cool one day when Russell came to the Higher Ground and was having a muffin and a Rattle Snake Brew coffee.  We had great discussion at the coffee house,  I was asking him a question about the past, he told me to read the book, my reply was I wanted him to share with me. I wanted to hear the stories first hand because it is more powerful listening to a friend relive his life.  I could listen to him for hours and just like good friends that is what would happen.  Time would stop and we would dream of a better world for the Lakota people. 
I asked one question that I will always remember, I asked him why did AIM choose him.  He told me in a very powerful manner, He said it was because he was intelligent, educated, and he spoke well.  I believe he is all of those things still, but now he has the wisdom of an elder.  I asked him when he was still in his sixties if he thought himself to be an elder.  He still had the warrior spirit and I know he wanted to keep fighting but alas, he told me what he wanted for the future.  He wanted for "US" the younger ones to continue the fight with what is rightfully our birthright, FREEDOM! Don't you just love Braveheart?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Crow Dog the Holy Man

         Land is seen as what the Lakota refer to as Unci Maka or Grandmother Earth.  Lakota have known they come from the earth rather than the earth is meant to master.  In thinking about the idea of land ownership it reminds me of my traveling to a nearby town looking for some fencing.  The lady helping me told me, I should know what I needed because I was a man.  Of course my reply was, we didn’t need fences until your people came to our area.  If you look at the land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation you can see how only a few benifitted from land ownership.  People have interests that have been passed down because of a lack of understanding of American value of private property.  Some people have been able to buy land from other tribal members but there is a lot of land that was taken out of trust and now Non-Indian people own that land.  It is purely a difference between two cultures, one believes it can own the land and the other understands the land is where we come from and where we will return.

                When the first settlers came to America they came searching for a new way of life.  The old world was a place the few held the land in ownership.  Share cropping was a way of life and people who did not own the land did not have the oppurtunity to advance.  So when the oppurtunity came to come to America and risk their lives, they jumped at the oppurtunity because it was a chance for a new beginning.  White slavery was how the United States started but it was called indentured servitude but in the end they were simply involved in human trafficking.  Most of them worked for around six years and then were given the oppurtunity to own land as well.  They were offered one hundred acres in the new world.  This practice was only stopped as it became cheaper to own African slaves and this was a very lucritive business as ship loads were brought from the Africa.

                When the Lakota fought for the hunting rights of their people it was not to own the land as much as it was to be allowed to live life.  Indian suffrage came in the twentieth century and it was almost a quarter century before that took place.  I suppose it is easier to say 1924 was the point of American Indian Citizenship.  1879 with the Standing Bear trial we as American Indians became human.  Our rights as human being were violated because they did not consider us human.  So we must question the intentions of the United States when they signed the 1868 treaty.  Why would you have to make a treaty with an animal, or why would you consider keeping such a treaty?  When you start to see what was done to the Lakota Nation you need realize we must fight for our existence. 

                Leonard Crow Dog the famous Holy Man from the Sicangu came to Wounded Knee and stopped in the Higher Ground Coffee House to have lunch.  I had some Chicken Fried Rice and he told me it was very good.  It was pretty awesome to hear the beautiful Lakota language spoken in public.  I wanted to be clear with Crow Dog and he was speaking to me freely in English, and I told him, “You know I am a Christian right?”  He said he knew and he was ok with it.  He told me he spoke at the World Council of Churches.  It was so nice to be able to share some ideas with the Wicasa Wankan or Holy Man.  My views are we need to fight for the Great Sioux Nation and we have use the system to overcome the United States of America.  I told Crow Dog out of respect it is him and others like him who need to pull us together and develop the United Tribes of Lakota.  My good friend Russell Means has the right idea about his Republic of Lakota, he also told me we were the only people who did not ask for citizenship in 1924.  They made us citizens but we should consider ourselves citizens of the Lakota. 

                So our lawyers and leaders need to work on behalf of the Lakota.  Here is an idea, this country was founded on the rights of land ownership and the protection of that land.  Freedom and Land are the highest values and we need to take our rightful place in the Great Sioux Nation, which is Land Lords.  We need to get paid for the squaters on our land. Any question can be sent to blunthorn@gmail.com

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blunt Horn At Wounded Knee

Writing a blog takes time and focus and it is a diffiult task if your emotions have gotten the best of you.  I can attribute my imbalance to many things but in the end it is my own issues that I need to overcome.  I must remember my grandparents and the struggles they walked through in the past.  I have thought of John Blunt Horn who was is my great great grandfather.  He lived as an Ikce Wicasa or a Common Man and did not do anything of valor or anything that would make anything other than just a man.  He fought in the battles against the United States and other tribes.  He Wetoka was what his family called him.  A few years ago I was sitting with my mother and she told me I should take the name of Blunt Horn.  In my youth and ignorance I did not realize what she was saying until after she crossed over to the next world.  She was wanting me to have a Lakota name and in her own way was sharing her thoughts about me.  It is such an honor for me to be able to take the name of He Wotoka, he was more than a
man and it was how he seemed to be satisfied with his own life.  While doing extensive research about the Lakota culture as well as the history, I came across the James R. Walker books.  Walker wrote from a medical perspective and used the Lakota people for sources.  John Blunt Horn was living his life as a Lakota and was a lay leader in the Episcopol church.  I was not the first follower of Christ in my family.  John Blunt Horn my great great grandfather rang a bell for the people who lost their lives to the 7th Cavalry on December 29, 1890.  On the current gravesite sat the big guns and women and children were found miles aways as they were hunted down like animals.  It is sad to note, many of Big Foot's people were Christian had put their faith in Jesus.  It is difficult to not be upset with the way America has treated our ancestors. 
My life has not been easy but it clear our people have lived more difficult lives.  I have taken the name of Blunt Horn because of my mother and my uncle's approval.  It an honor to begin the Spring time with an understanding of my history and culture. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lakota people have lived on the plains for a long time but it has never been more difficult than it has been in the 21st Century.  We have seen our lives hindered with suicide and early death due to alcohol related incidences.  But there is hope and hope is the key to life as we know it in this new century.  Many people come to Pine Ridge with their own value system and try to fix or in the very least they seek to understand what has happened to a once strong Nation.  Lakota people fought the United States to a standstill, and won many key battles.  It was the naivety of our ancestors of dealing with the so called Western Civilization.  It is sad the United States did not seek to keep their word or agreement.  The 1868 Fort Laramie was a way to stop the wars with the American Indian.  Of course the Indians were duped as the United States has always been ready to take more land and resources.   Capitalism is based on more or greed and it has gone throughout the world seeking new lands to devour.  I was asked the question of how will the last seventeen years effect the next two decades of my life?
It is a great question to be asked how will you learn from the past and implement some changes in the future.  I know I am imperfect and working on the Pine Ridge Reservation has been difficult but I have also learned if you have enough heart and you dream you can attain the dreams.  In the past few years I have realized the American way of life is not the road I must travel but in order to help people attain their dreams I need to be smart about my steps.  I dream of an organization that will bring hope and life to our people.  Our children or young people who have very few boundaries need to believe they can walk in two worlds.  I know young people who walk in respect but others are struggling because they have lost parental supervision.
When I was growing up as a young person I would never think to disrespect adults, but I was very aware of making sure I was safe.  When you use an American lens of what is normal the Reservation would seem to be upside down or inside out.  You have over a century of a dismantling of a culture that is Anti-American.  Instead of seeking a piece of the pie, you have people trying to give it up because someone is hungry.   Think about that piece of information because people here take care of their families even if it is the last bit of money they have in their pockets.  I know people who give you the last ten dollars.  Before I sat down to write this blog I decided I wanted a drink of soda, so I took out some garbage and went downtown with a refill.  The refill would cost me 79 cents.  I had a few dollars in my pocket and when I went to the counter I saw a young man with a whole bunch of change.  Nickles and dimes and a roll of pennies were counted by my daughter in law.  I felt so bad for this young man that I pulled out all of my dollar bills and it came up to be ten dollars.  I put it on the counter and told him to put that in his tank too.  Daughter in-law says that was nice of you, she then went on to tell me when she gets a car she hopes I can help her out.  I smiled and paid for my soda and snack with my bank card, which came up to $2.07.  Now as an American I could have said he should have worked for the ten dollars and as a Lakota I remember people helping me out.  I never went back to the people who gave me money and begged for more.  It was just a Lakota way of generosity and I did not plan on doing it but it is important to be who we are in regards to our way of life. 
Being a Christian I have come across many generous people and have believed for sometime God would meet my needs.  I believe it is being a follower of Jesus as an Oglala Lakota that makes me who the Creator wanted me to be in this life.  Our lives our full of people who are generous.  I was given a hundred thousand dollars one time.  It was by a Norwegian man and I loved him as a father or uncle and we had a great relationship.  I believe we as Lakota need to rise up to the occasion and be all that we can be in this World which is full of bad economy.  I hope you understand we do have lots of work to do but we can be who the Creator wants us to be.