Acknowledging Chief Luther Standing Bear
Every Lakota babe, we raised the same. Our mothers wrapped us in soft warm clothing made from buffalo calfskin. Our mothers laid us on stiff rawhide boards covered in soft deerskin to make our backs strong and straight and to strengthen the muscles in our necks.
Our mothers placed a pliable cap of deerskin or buffalo calfskin, decorated with porcupine quills and the tassels of eagle feathers, on our heads and we wore that cap for the first year of our lives. At night, they removed our clothes and rubbed our bodies with buffalo tallow. They cleaned us and massaged our muscles.
We felt the air on our bodies.
As we grew, we wore clothes made from the skins of the deer and the buffalo, softened by the seedpods from cottonwoods and cattails. We learned to run and jump and climb.
We became erect, straight-limbed men and women with beautiful faces and strong chins and high cheekbones and perfectly formed heads. Our bodies resonated with the earth and the animals and the sky and the elders taught us the ways of our peoples, our origins and about our Earth Mother and about the Great Spirit.
We became part of the Great Mystery and we cared for the 4-legged and the grasses. Today, our people are the poorest of the poor. Today, we have;
- An unemployment rate of 80-90%
- Per capita income of $4,000
- 8 Times the corporate national rate of diabetes
- 5 Times the corporate national rate of cervical cancer
- Twice the corporate national rate of heart disease
- 8 Times the corporate national rate of Tuberculosis
- An alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
- 1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
- Suicide rate more than twice the corporate national rate
- Teen suicide rate 4 times the corporate national rate
- Infant mortality three times the corporate national rate
- And the lowest life expectancy in the corporate United States and the 2nd lowest (only Haiti is lower) in the Western Hemisphere
How did this happen?
White Clay, Nebraska, a town of 14 residents, borders the land of our people, known now as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Composed of a few grocery stores, two diners, a gas station, a ranch store and four beer joints that sell about four million cans of beer annually to our people, four million cans of beer annually to a population less than 30,000, White Clay is a plague that undoes our history, that makes our clothes into rags, that weakens our babies, that is the way of the misguided, wayward culture that dishonors the aged, that prescribes vaccines rather deerskins, monetization rather than buffalo calfskins, drones rather than eagles, psyops rather than porcupine quills, that sterilizes, that bombs, that legalizes poisons and chemicals as food and drink and entertainment.
We are also the last nation to defeat the U.S. Military on her own soil and for that, the wayward culture incessantly punishes us. We are enemy. We are the fear they feel.
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom