Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today
Education | Opinion

Ivan Star Comes Out: We must stop the federal 'Kill the Indian' education system

Stop this federal “Kill the Indian” education process!

By Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

Tatanka Iyutaka (Sitting Bull) once said that if one searches carefully for something that is lost, one will find it.

I spent my entire adult life searching for my cultural roots. Although, I achieved some assurance regarding my identity, my re-learned cultural knowledge base does not compare to that of a 10-year old child of 100 years ago.

Our ancestors were immersed in language and culture from birth. Thus, even a small child was conversant, confident, and content. They were fully aware of the ikce wicasa (natural man or human) world in a very normal manner, without interference from another culture. In other words, no one told them their language and beliefs must be destroyed because they were inferior and evil.

Consequently, 100 years later, we are a fragmented nation of people struggling to maintain our language and culture. Our youth are eager to learn but most adults do not speak Lakota nor are they culturally and historically conversant. Basically, we are like a plant with dying roots. We must see that our creation story and the many other wicowoyake (oral traditions) are our roots, our heritages.

Although interspersed with the new industrialized culture and English language, I was born into my language. However, those first six years of my life were the last time I was to be instinctively exposed to my culture. My language was all I had when I dropped out in 1964. Ten years in a punitive boarding school had obliterated what cultural knowledge I had acquired.

I was called “Indian,” but I did not know what that meant. A cornerstone of our culture is wowahecun (kinship), but aside from my wicowe (immediate family), I didn’t know who my relatives were. Biased history texts, including children’s books, and Hollywood portrayals were all I had to go on. I knew something was awry.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Stop this federal “Kill the Indian” education process!

Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today