2018-07-05 / Voices

Calls to Action Following Traveling Seminars


Over the course of the past two weeks, CAIRNS has conducted two 5-day Lakota Lands & Identities traveling seminars. The first one was hosted by Rapid City Area Schools and the second one by Regional Health.

On the final afternoon of each seminar, as the bus is returning to Rapid City, participants are asked to write down how they intend to apply what they learned during the seminar in their personal and professional lives.

“I found the dialogue about traditional Lakota beliefs very valuable this week,” wrote one participant, and “I will take into account the variety of beliefs and cultural perspectives when looking at needs of my patients.”

Another wrote that “I have a whole new outlook on the sacred sites we visited, that I can’t wait to share with my family and friends.” Yet another participant wrote that,“My call to action is to, when I encounter an ignorant/ biased judgement, to ask the individual what facts they have to justify their statements.” This person added: “Silence speaks loudly. Rather than wish I had said something or wait and say something in private, I am going to work on tactfully supporting my friends.”

“Just recognizing that every ‘story’ has multiple sides, angles, and viewpoints,” was mentioned by one person as a positive aspect of the seminar, along with “being able to differentiate between documented fact and personal opinion.” Another participant wrote, “Thank you for the learning made fun by humor and your perspectives/research and knowledge!”

A participant with school-age children wrote that they will “recommend that the private school where my children go learn American Indian culture from an American Indian perspective as part of their South Dakota history—not just from the typical school books.” Similarly, another participant wrote that their measurable action was to “educate my immediate and extended family in South Dakota about the Lakota/Oceti Sakowin culture, significant sites and current issues of the Lakotas by the end of 2018.”

Other mentions of measurable outcomes were “to include what I’ve learned in upcoming staff meetings,” to “incorporate concepts and information from this seminar in department orientations and education,” and to “participate in change efforts at county and state levels that impact Native American representation, land rights, etc.”

With regard to the overall experience of the seminar, one participant wrote, “I have lived around this area my entire life and have never had this great of educational or understanding of Lakota culture.” Another wrote, “Wish I would have been able to have this knowledge 34 years ago when I moved to Rapid City.” “The most important lesson reiterated to me this week is the art of critical thinking,” added another participant, “to always question what I am told if it sounds ridiculous or is negative.” Yet another participant wrote that, “I will look at government presentations and news about Lakotas more critically using knowledge I acquired this week.”

The CAIRNS team enjoys the opportunity to share five days with workshop participants traveling to important sites and discussing a wide range of topics, some of which are emotional and controversial. We also recognize that participants make a big commitment of their time to participate in these workshops. Their generosity inspires us to provide the best educational experience we can over the course of our five days together.

If you or someone you know is interested in being “on the bus” for a future edition of a Lakota Lands & Identities workshop, email CAIRNS for more information. In the meantime, we wish you a festive and safe Fourth of July holiday.

Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies CAIRNS is an Indian-controlled nonprofit research and education center founded in 2004 and located in the Lacreek District of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

*The Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies is an Indian-controlled nonprofit research and education center founded in 2004 and located in the Lacreek District of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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