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2017-10-12 / Voices

A Few Thoughts About Native American Day

BY LEON MATTHEWS
OGLALA LAKOTA

I am writing on this important day, Native American Day, and I am proud to be Lakota in the 21st Century because if the European settlers had their way we would be only a memory.

I do not like to spout hate for anything but I understand what happened to our people along with every other tribe in the Western Hemisphere. This day is important because we are survivors and it is what so many of our ancestors died for so that we can live. I know we have many issues facing our Indigenous people such as the disappearance and the killing of our people. Drugs have overcome the Oyate, but, I am happy to see people standing up in places like the Rosebud and others. I want the warriors who stood against the drugs in Rosebud to know your voice is heard and seen. Wopila Tanka

Now current affairs continue to shake our understanding of the world. Almost fifty people died from a terrorist and mad man who shot up a crowd of Country fans and the experts do not know why he did this. I see humanity as I have always seen it and it is more than evil, it is depraved and in need of a savior. That is my opinion and I know the world can be dangerous as I have traveled in some of the darkest places of evil and knew I was not safe. A couple weeks ago I went to see a surgeon and as we traveled back to the suburbs of Philadelphia we drove through a neighborhood called German Town and I was looking around and thought to myself I would not like to be driving around here at night. There are many places like this around the country and no one is safe because there are tons of unsolved murders.

Now, I want to share something that I believe is important because people need to be updated on their facts. Wounded Knee is where my land is and I have many relatives that still live there and one of the greatest moments in my life was when I was walking through the village of Wounded Knee and people asked me my name. I told them my name and I was embraced as a relative because this is where my people are from and they lived there before 1890 and the saddest day in the History of Wounded Knee is December 29, 1890 and our hearts still hurt from this terrible day when the United States Army started killing unarmed people, including elders, children, women and me. It is despicable but the reason it is important to understand is it was the last time the United States Army killed Americans Indians and this would start other types of genocide. We have seen millions killed in our history such as the Taino tribe of Puerto Rico and the other islands.

As I was traveling back PA from New Jersey we stopped at a rest stop and I was getting out of the car and this car drove up and he went too far and scrapped the front part of his car, underneath on the curb. So I stepped out and told him he drove to far and he told me it was ok because it was his mother in-laws car. I laughed and thought nice son in-law. They had many people traveling together and the restroom filled up pretty quick and after I finished up and was washing my hands I started up a conversation with the last guy in the restroom. We walked out together and I was telling him I would love to visit Israel someday. They were Israeli and they told me there is a difference between the Jewish people of America and the Israelis from Israel. I kind of knew this fact but we went on to talk about the Holocaust and the devastation of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe, six million or around their in a short period of time.

I shared with him what happened to the Americas and he was shocked when I told him the numbers that were killed from 1492 to 1890 which was into the tens of millions and most likely 100 million Indigenous people died. It was almost a total ethnic cleansing of our people. Now you may be wondering what happened after 1890 and that is the important part of my thoughts. Our diets were turned upside down from high protein to high carbohydrates and this is what is killing our people because we have become addicted to bread and “carbs” that are not good for us. My doctors tell me I need to eat lots of protein to heal my body. Of course alcohol is part of the genocide because it has taken too many of our people at a young age. They have done so many things to continue to wipe us out and the drugs may do the trick but I am not willing to give up on our people. I believe we will survive and that includes our relatives in Jail. So yes by all means I celebrate Native American Day and am thankful for all of you. More next week while I recover and hope to continue to write my spiritual devotional to help me to heal. You can search my blogger page Rez Ramblings Devotional.

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