Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River Sioux woman keeps walking

Walkers on Good Friday: Pastor Byron Buffalo and Margo Iron Hawk (carrying the cross). Flanking Margo are her two children, Breyana, age 5, and Brax, age 9. Photo by James Giago Davies

Margo Iron Hawk’s inspirational walk
By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RED SCAFFOLD –– A remote stretch of gravel road connects the Cheyenne River Reservation hamlet of Red Scaffold to South Dakota Highway 73, 12 miles to the west. This is some of the most rugged and wild country in all of West River, and if the ghosts of long dead ancestors were real, this is the place they would want to inhabit, these are the people they would want to remain close to.

Because this country is so isolated, the Lakota families that settled here over a century back have retained much of the language and behaviors of the people they once were. They will be essential contributors to preserving the language in the years to come.

When you meet them, they are humble and personable, and although they are out of assimilated lockstep with much of the other members of the Four Bands, there are some sad things their world does share with the world up in Eagle Butte—there is poverty, there is violence, there is substance abuse, and there is death.

This is not an indictment of who these people are, it is simply stated for perspective, because despite that grim everyday reality, the people around Red Scaffold are people of deep faith and heartfelt resolve.

Almost thirty years ago, Brother Paul and other members of the Catholic Church in Red Scaffold begin a six-mile long Good Friday walk up the winding, undulating gravel road, six miles east to the United Church of Christ church. Besides Brother Paul, there was Ted Knife, Larry Mendoza, Emmett Hollow Horn and Dwight Collins. All passed on now.

The morning begins with Inez Iron Hawk alone at the United Church of Christ church, alone but for her tiny grandson and two dogs, awaiting others to arrive for the walk to Red Scaffold, and also waiting for a large search party to arrive, ready to conduct a comprehensive grid search for a man missing since last August. The kitchen will serve to feed the searchers.

Beside the new church (a new church clearly showing twenty years of wear and tear), is an even older church. The new church has metal siding, but the old church is narrow, painted white, traditional in every sense, right down to the bell tower, rusted and twisted lonely metal supports where the bell used to be.

“I got married in that little church,” Inez says. “Got married there in 1969. It was like a fairy tale. I’d known my husband since I was nine years old.”

(Contact  James Giago Davies at

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Margo Iron Hawk’s inspirational walk

Copyright permission Native Sun News