Dana Lone Elk: Francis Pumpkin Seed always had a bright smile

The following opinion by Dana Lone Elk appears in the latest issue of The Lakota Country Times. For more news, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times. All content © Lakota Country Times.

Francis Pumpkin Seed, 1981-2015. Photo from Native Sun News

Francis Pumpkin Seed-Seventh Generation
By Dana Lone Elk
Lakota Country Times Columnist

There was a point in time, as everyone knows and my old writing mentor threw me under the bus about, when I hit rock bottom.

In fact, I felt below rock bottom, as I reached out to my mentor from another newspaper and instead of reaching back, he dissed me by throwing me under the bus, making me headlines, and the ultimate slap in the face, stealing my writing from online without my permission when I made a comeback. I had nothing but respect for him, but learned a hard lesson that some people are in the business of writing, only for themselves. Not “for the people” as they write about.

When I was at this low point, in a federal correctional facility, many members of other nations read The Lakota Country Times. They would talk of a writer who encouraged them to go on with their lives and gave them hope for life after prison. I was told his name and I smiled. Because I knew him. Francis Pumpkin Seed is a person I knew from home and whose smile is unforgettable. So I reached out to him too, followed his column.

He was encouraging to brothers and sisters of many nations on the inside while they were at their lowest point. He was known for being invited to correctional facilities as a guest of honor and he graciously accepted. He wrote and spoke up for so much more than his Lakota people, not only as the Shannon County Commissioner at that time, but he spoke for those serving time, federal and state, while they were at a low point in their lives.

He did this for me, he encouraged me to keep writing, he encouraged me that my writing was greater than my mistakes of my past, and he encouraged me to go on. I was so saddened to hear of this brother's passing last week because of all the encouragement he brought to those behind the tiopa maza, iron door. I only hope with my writing that I can pass on half the hope he did to our brothers and sisters on the inside. Because I know, as much as we love everyone on the inside, our day to day struggles take away our thoughts of them. Just part of being an Indian.

Francis, you will be missed by many, many more than you know. Thank you for portraying that bright smile through your writing and journey well brother. It was definitely a privilege to know you. Rest In Peace.

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