James Giago Davies. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

James Giago Davies: Lakota culture was yanked away from its foundation long ago

Mystical imagery is no substitute for sacred substance

By James Giago Davies
Native Sun News Today Columnist

At first glance this topic may seem beyond the scope of a Lakota life, but it isn’t. It will probably touch upon deeply held conviction, and be uncharitably received, even by people who would otherwise like me, but my deepest held conviction is that the Lakota do not wallow in stubborn absolutes; that they have been, and will be in the future, a wise and tolerant people.

But I could be wrong.

Only time can give us a definitive answer, and long held tradition is generally inflexible when yanked from its foundation by the hostile beliefs and propriety of an alien culture. Determined to protect all they hold dear from Wasicu destruction, Lakota can lock their perceptions into rigid prisons of close-minded rejection. All that the historical Lakota believed was formed in an ever-changing, ever-challenging crucible that made them wise and strong. At no point did they declare the unknown and the alien to be suspect by definition.

Just as there was no place for the wolf, the bear, the bison, when the Wasicu invaded the world of the Lakota, there was—and still is—no place for the beliefs and behaviors and traditions of Lakota. To the extent Lakota had a place, once the Wasicu made this land his place, it was on cubby hole reservations. And even these treaty-protected reservations would prove too much to ignore; these, too, the Wasicu will keep taking back, until they are whittled down to postage stamps, and what Lakota sovereignty that remains, was long ago cynically scheduled to be snuffed out by the coup de grace pinch of Wasicu fingertips.

No wonder Lakota cling to who they were in the past as the definition of who they should be now, and forever. The healthy interactive relationship of Lakota with the land and the people who move across it no longer exists. This shaped who the Lakota were, what they believed, how they acted, how wisely they perceived.

The historic Lakota would not want their descendants to shackle their own time by hero worshipping a long lost before time. Seize this moment in time, because it belongs to you, and it is not the time of your ancestor, or of your children—this is your time to be a hero to the next generation, to contribute your share to the Lakota winter count going back to the depths of time immemorial.

Support Native media and read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: Mystical imagery is no substitute for sacred substance

James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at skindiesel@msn.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today