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2018-06-07 / Voices

Healing the Pain From War: Sgt. Oi Zephier, Combat Medic

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OITANCAN MANI ZEPHIER

About 11 or 12 years ago I was in a dark and sad place in my heart from my service in the Army as a combat medic. I would typically go on long hikes alone with nature to calm my mind. One evening I got into an argument with my girlfriend. I was upset so I grabbed my rifle and started on foot into the hills. The rifle was to keep me entertained along the way as I took out prairie dogs.

I walked about 10 miles until I came to a buffalo fence and a herd of buffalo at nightfall. I stopped and fired my rifle into the air to scare them away because I had to cross their path to get to where I was going. I didn’t have a flashlight or water so I was also tired, thirsty and couldn’t see through the darkness. All but one of the buffalo ran away. It was a bull and he was on my side of the fence and he stomped the ground running back and forth threatening me to come closer. I wouldn’t dare challenge him. I eventually made it home to Porcupine.

Fast forward 12 years later and this location where I came across the buffalo is where I Sundance. The Sundance didn’t exist at that location then. That day I walked to calm myself and heal. I walked directly to the location of the Lakota ceremony that has brought me so much healing, Mila Yatan Pika Wiwang Wacipi, Knife Chief Sundance

Tunkasila (grandfathers) have their ways. Trust him. It’s because of them that I’m still alive today. I’d be dead or in prison if it wasn’t for our sacred ways.

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