On a previous post entitled, “Native in the 21st Century” Nellie Two Elk commented:
“What does it mean to be Native in 2011?
What does it mean to be Native, period?
What do these questions mean?
Why do we need to ask them?
Every comment has to do with not knowing the language. What if no one knew our language? Would we cease to be Native American? Does the knowledge of our language dictate who we are as a people? We are all Native American, but why and what does it mean? We have always had our own beliefs and traditions, yet we question ourselves because of the lack of language?
Does no one not follow our way of life anymore? Do we still believe in Tunkasila? Do we still pray with a canunpa? Do we still sing songs and dance to our own drum? Do we still consider eagle feathers sacred, and if so why? Do we still pray to our church, our sundance once a year? Do we still consider the walls of our church as the four directions, the sky as our ceiling, the milky way as our way into the happy hunting grounds? Do we still refer to Earth as Unci Maka? Do we still say Mitakuye Oyasin? Do we still know what it means?
Consider every single question and rethink what you just wrote. Our language can be learned. Our way of life is still thriving. Go out and learn! Have the initiative and the perseverance to, at least, try. It makes my heart sad to know our future leaders are giving up on being Native American so easily.”
This comment made me think, and I asked all of my students to respond. Here are their thoughts:
“I may not as much but, i know enough to understand. I know how to act around the elders and i do know how to pray to tunkasila. I do know what a ceremony and a sweat lodge is i just don’t ever take the time to do these things. I know it’s suppose to be our way to live but, i was raised to believe i just don’t do as much as i used to. I just been opposite you know what I’m saying. I mean drugs, alcohol, gangs i just don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I didn’t really know how to answer questions in a perfect way i just hope you understand but, we do have our own ways and that’s just the way it is.” -EC
“I don’t think that We are giving up on Being native. It’s just that were lazy when it come to thinks that seem hard or time consuming. We are The future leaders But what can we accomplish for Ourselves If we can’t even Learn Our own language and use our time to Practice what we believe in. we see it as why would we waste our time doing all that when we can text our friends and get on Facebook and talk about this one quote from this one show that no one in our society cares about. The “future leaders” would much rather spend there time on things that are so trivial and useless rather that spend that time on ways to figure out who we are. To find out where we come from and who our people were and how there actions Shaped the world we lie in today. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault that we don’t know our own language. if i were to blame someone it would be the US for the ethnic cleansing. But that is saying it’s not our fault it’s because of them I don’t want to go down that road in a sense be weak and lazy.” -TM
“I think the student who wrote this had a lot to say. Also because it seems to me that he/she knows the way of life, and because they believe in the Lakota ways. I think this student is wright about all the thinks he or she said. One thing that caught my mind, was that he or she asked “Do we still believe in Tunkasila?”. Well I think most of our elders think that us teenagers don’t care about our old ways of life. But I’m sure we do, well at least I hope. I think most teenagers don’t even know what Tunkasila even means, and that is something parents need to look into, because we are all Native American and I think we need to bring our traditions back. Now and days all I see is gang fighting, families not getting along. This bothers me alot because, I don’t want to see my people the way they are, we are all related in a way, and everybody says Tunkasila is our father, he is a father to everybody, he’s our creater.” -ELF
“In my opinion what it means to be Native is to live by our way of life. As years and years go by, our culture is starting to disappear. With that being said, we need to start doing the things we used to. Without our way of life I believe our people will be nothing. In addition to this, there are still ceremonies that do remain today. For example, every new moon; out to lala Roy Stone’s they have a ceremony. Also almost every night out to Lala Roy’s they light up for sweat. In other words, there are still things we practice.” -Anon
Thank you for reading; thank you Nellie for the great comment.