Vi Waln: A messenger for reality on Rosebud Sioux Reservation

It is up to us to make our lives into something. I cannot depend on fate, luck or coincidence. I have to depend on myself. All my choices are mine. I only have this one short life. It will only be as good as I make it. I do want my life to be the best it can be.

I used to believe that I had no control over what happened to me or that my life was not simple. There were so many complications, problems and things other people did that always messed up what I wanted. But I have learned that nothing in my life depends on other people. My life depends completely upon my choices.

Some choices we make as individuals will certainly follow us for the rest of our lives. If we choose to commit a crime, for instance, we may find ourselves in jail sentenced to spend some or a lot or the rest of our lives locked up in a cell. We have to live with the choices we make. No one can choose for us.

I am not a politician. Thus, I don’t travel to the nation’s capital to ask for dollars. I am a writer who believes my readers should know about the things I address here. Still, when I write a hard column about crime, I am judged as someone who wants to see all my people locked up for life, which isn’t true.

I am a messenger. I write about what is real here on my rez based on events that happen to actual Lakota people. Thus, I am sometimes attacked by people who don’t know me. They bash me through emails and posts on social networking sites but not one of them has come to me personally to say to my face what they can so easily type from behind their computer screens; ho-hum.

I write some tough pieces on domestic violence which always strikes a painful nerve. Have you seen the documentary called “Rape on the Reservation?” People who don’t agree with what I put forth should watch this documentary about Rosebud because it shows the reality of life on the rez. It shows what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

Anyway, I have built my personal foundation upon the premise that my thought and speech determine my reality. Our individual ideas are born within our minds; are they not? Discussing ideas with others helps us to formulate a concrete beginning for something new. Every thought I entertain has the potential to be verbalized and brought into reality.

I was once a victim. I would think long and hard about all the wrongs that befell me, my parents, grandparents and the rest of my ancestors. I used to believe it was the fault of the church that our language is ebbing away. I felt it was the fault of boarding schools that there was such a devastating breakdown in our familial system. I blamed our addiction to drugs and alcohol on the wasicu who introduced his poison to my tribe.

Then I reached a point in my life where I transformed those crippling thoughts into something that would benefit me. It began a few years back when someone suggested to me that I monitor my thoughts. What? I really did not understand what they meant. When I asked for clarification I was simply told again to monitor my thoughts. I had to figure it out for myself.

So began the monitoring. I would think something and then try to honestly examine the thought. Does that make sense? It didn’t to me at first but the more I engaged in the monitoring the easier it became. I had to be honest! Soon I recognized my thoughts for what they really were: judgmental, angry, jealous, manipulative, hypocritical, arrogant, dishonest and uncontrolled. My thoughts were bad medicine.

When you stop and genuinely examine what goes through your mind it might surprise you. Most of us have very undisciplined minds. I saw myself as someone devoid of all those negative traits until I actually faced my private thoughts. It was shocking and quite humbling to realize how debilitating my thoughts really were.

After continuously engaging in this thought monitoring process I can now recognize those dark thoughts when they come. It takes great discipline to transform some of the thoughts we have. We are addicted to negative thinking! It is the nature of the disease of the mind; to think ugly thoughts about someone is akin to projecting bad medicine upon them.

I cannot say that I don’t have negative thoughts anymore. Still, years of work to release the diseased mind syndrome has helped me improve my perspective immensely. The quality of a person’s inner thought affects their energy on every level. How do you feel around a negative thinker? How different do you feel around someone who is always positive? It all goes back to what is in our minds. Change your thoughts and you will definitely transform your life.

You are the one responsible for what you think. Some people proclaim they are set in their ways or their thought patterns. I cannot change the way you think but I can tell you that it is never too late to change your thoughts.

I will continue to write thought provoking columns for you to read even though it is quite apparent that some of you can’t handle them. I can share with you what has helped me come closer to true happiness in my life. If I can help just one person realize how crucial their thought patterns actually are then all the bad medicine coming from the minds of my critics is worth it.

I will keep writing about real issues that make you think. Will you monitor your thoughts? Try it for a day and see what you think. You may be surprised. Thanks for reading my thoughts.

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.

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Vi Waln: Violence is too common on Rosebud Sioux Reservation (7/5)
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Vi Waln: An appreciation for all of the fathers in Indian Country (6/20)
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