Vi Waln: Internet Indians perpetuate the victimhood mentality

It is easy to be a victim; you simply fill your mind every day with dark thoughts about all the injustice you have suffered. It also helps to dwell upon all the wrongs the Lakota people have suffered over the past 500+ years. Constantly pondering past wrongs definitely fuels the victim mentality.

Being a victim consumes all your precious energy. It was very draining for me to cling to all those depressing thoughts of how our people were oppressed and murdered over the centuries. Now, it’s much easier to pray.

Of course, to maintain the victim mentality you must stay angry; I once kept everything that angered me burning hot in my heart. You have to continually provoke your own anger or you risk letting it go for happiness.

You will never be happy when you are imprisoned inside the victim mindset. There is no room for joy, for to be a victim entails an enormous amount of indignation. You will never find a path to happiness. You may as well be in a locked prison cell with no key.

Self-righteousness is a keeper of the victim mentality. When you carry a huge amount of arrogant self-righteousness you are blind to the opinions of others.

Judgment is another toxic mindset. I would get mad when others judged something I did. But I also judged the behavior of other people. When I started monitoring my thoughts I was shocked to find I was just as judgmental as everyone else.

I do not give away my personal power to anger anymore. Anger is poison. Of course, I get mad over things that happen but anger no longer defines who I am. Just because I am mad in any given moment does not mean I have to live my life furious at the whole world. Sadly, many of our young Indian people seem controlled by their anger.

Underneath the anger is fear, I believe. In my opinion, humanity carries two basic emotions: fear and love. The negative emotions emit from fear while the positive emotions come from love. Look deep inside your anger; hiding behind it is fear. Many people are very mad but they are unsure of where their anger stems from. This might be because all the anger they have ever felt is kept locked deep within. They release absolutely none of their anger. They might state that they cannot allow themselves to get mad because they don’t know what they will do. Is this you?

Are you mad because of the way you were treated today? Or does your rage stem from something that happened in your childhood which you carried into adulthood? It might take an entire lifetime to identify where your anger originates from.

There are some of you who continually blame the wasicu or the government or the tribe or boarding schools or churches or full bloods or mixed bloods or family members for what happens to you. You viciously attack other Indian people when their views don’t align with your victim mentality. You resent happy Indians who have made progress in overcoming their own victim mindset. Is this you?

I never realized how much fear people actually carry until recently. The Internet has allowed us to connect with people from all over the world. We are global within our own homes. Consequently, the advent of social websites, such as Facebook, has provided an avenue for many people to express their rage from behind the anonymity of their computer screen.

Thus, we now have Indian people attacking one another on social networking websites. When you try to express an opinion sometimes you are called names. Some people even threaten to kill you. To me, people who engage in online name calling or threats are immature cowards.

I can tell a lot about the rage a person feels by what they write on these social networking sites. Some young Indian people self-identify as hostiles. What good does being hostile 24 hours a day do? These spiteful bullies seem to resent those of us who are happy with our lives and will use any excuse to attack us. In my opinion, being forever hostile is extremely dangerous because it threatens the chances our children have at happiness. Remember, anger is poison.

Our children are born innocent. They are our most precious gifts. It’s our responsibility to mold them during their early years. It’s our duty to help our children grow up in such a way that they are not infected with the poisoned mentality of victimhood. The brutal cycle can be broken.

Sometimes I am accused of being wasicu, weak, conquered or assimilated because I am happy. What a fallacy! I don’t know about the rest of you but I choose to be a happy Indian. It is my personal choice. True happiness will escape you when you are full of anger.

Indian people suffer hardship. Our ancestors died at the hands of the oppressors. I understand our collective history. Still, I make a choice every day to make a better life. Where is it written that just because I am Lakota I have to stay enraged my entire life?

Many Lakota people have found true happiness by embracing our own way of life. We walk a difficult path. Many sacrifice themselves every year for the people and pray at our Lakota altar in much the same way our ancestors prayed. We cry tears of sincerity in asking for a better life for our young people.

Still, we are attacked by hostile internet Indians who revel in their miserable wrath. They are acting as cowards when they bully their own people with social networking posts. I do not want my grandchildren to learn how to be scornful internet cowards. Do you?

Wakan Tanka, Tunkasila and God can see into our hearts. I want them to see my heart as pure, not black with rage. Monitor your thoughts for they become your actions.

Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She is Editor of the Lakota Country Times and can be reached through email at vi@lakotacountrytimes.com.

Related Stories:
Vi Waln: It's starting to feel like spring at Rosebud Reservation (3/21)
Vi Waln: Tribes should trade daylight saving time for Indian Time (3/14)
Vi Waln: Yankton Sioux Tribe fights state to protect reservation (3/7)
Vi Waln: Questions remain about $3.4B Indian trust settlement (2/28)
Vi Waln: Native Americans still dealing with media insensitivity (2/21)
Vi Waln: Settlement in Indian trust fund case benefits just handful (2/7)
Vi Waln: Women form the backbone of Lakota society and culture (1/31)
Vi Waln: Holding Indian Health Service accountable to its patients (1/24)
Vi Waln: Ignorance rears its head with posting about 'ugly' prayer (1/17)
Vi Waln: Don't believe everything in the media about reservation (1/10)
Vi Waln: Tribal identification cards deserve recognition everywhere (1/3)
Vi Waln: December a difficult month for tribes in the Great Plains (12/21)
Vi Waln: Mexico's Indigenous people aim to protect sacred sites (12/13)
Vi Waln: Indian Country must look within to address youth suicide (12/6)
Vi Waln: Lakota people encounter threats to their water source (11/29)
Vi Waln: Lakota of South Dakota remain invisible in many ways (11/24)

Join the Conversation