Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pine Ridge’s Sun Dance Dilemma --- Part One

Pine Ridge’s Sun Dance Dilemma: Sacrifice or End Alcohol Prohibition?
August 09, 2013

The full moon is slowly sinking to the west behind a nondescript butte dotted with pines. A warm light glows in the east the world stands still silently holding its breath as the Sun Dance ceremony is about to begin. The Oglala Lakota have held this ceremony for over 2,000 years to mark the end and start of a new year. “We dance for the people, we dance for healing and we dance for peace” the Sun Dancer says with a sigh. “In times like these, we have to dance now more than ever.”
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation comprises some 3,468 square miles in the western corner of South Dakota, in an area unsuitable for farming or industry. It is the last toehold of what was a nation of the seven tribes of the Lakota, whose lands once covered what are now five U.S. states. Today, the reservation consists of nine districts with council representation in the centralized Tribal government.
Pine Ridge holds the distinction of being the poorest reservation and county in the United States. Alcohol rates are high, drug use is steadily climbing and unemployment stands at 85 percent. Lakota suicide rates are the highest in the nation among the youth and growing among the old, although “old” is a misnomer in a place where the life expectancy for women is 52 years, and just 48 for men.
The Sun Dance chief arrives, setting off a buzz of activity around the Inipi lodges as young men with pitchforks fish red-hot rocks out of specially tended fires. Participants will deny themselves food and water for the next four days, and the main fire will not be allowed to go out. The Inipi ceremony is held in a dome-like lodge, where those heated rocks are placed in the center pit.
Pine Ridge residents patronize liquor stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska at alarming rates.
Pine Ridge residents patronize liquor stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska at alarming rates.
Men crowd into one of seven darkened structures, and the women file into a single, larger lodge, after which a bucket of water and a pitcher are brought into each lodge. The prayer is invoked, as sacred songs from our ancient past are sung, asking for pity and blessing in the coming four days. Water is ladled over the red-hot rocks, hissing out the only source of light in this circle of faith. The steam burns the tips of ears but prayer holds the pain in check as the purification ceremony thinly bathes the body with warm water.
When we burst from the lodge, the cool air reminds us that we are human, and we begin our preparations to enter the sacred circle.
The Pine Ridge Tribal Government is, by all accounts, inept but grossly arrogant when addressing poverty on the reservation. Its latest brainstorm is a referendum to legalize the sale of alcohol on this historically dry reservation. The council hopes alcohol revenue will fuel the economy, since the border towns plying that trade reap huge profits. The most notorious is the township of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which is walking distance from Pine Ridge Village, the largest populated community and the center of government. Whiteclay has a population of around 14 souls (2000 Census), buts its four liquor stores paid $413,932 in sales taxes to the state of Nebraska in 2012. In 2010, those four stores reported $3 million in gross sales, on an estimated 13,000 cans of beer per day. The tribe is seeking to tap that revenue stream to combat the social ills created by liquor. The goal is to create treatment centers that would encourage alcohol consumers to stop consuming.
At the center of the sacred circle stands a tall cottonwood tree that was felled yesterday, carried to the site, and lifted upright where it now stands. A circular shade was built around the circle for spectators and Sun Dancers to rest under. Long bolts of blue, red, yellow and white cloth hang from the tree’s branches, each one holding a portion ofchanshasha(native tobacco)—an offering tied with a prayer. Ropes of various makes and colors are tied around the tree trunk; these will be used by the dancers when they pierce themselves.
A breeze catches the leaves of the cottonwood, causing them to gently clap as the first rays of the sun slowly rise from behind a butte. The dancers are dressed in the Sun Dance regalia of red skirts, crowns, wrist and ankle bands made of sage and adorned with eagle feathers. The women’s dresses are made of the simple calico of their grandmothers, and on their wrists, ankles and head they have the same sage adornments as the men. The men line up silently, with the older dancers in front and the new ones toward the end of the line. The women line up in similar fashion, with the chief, headmen and headwomen at the front of this procession. The ceremony starts with a prayer, then a song and then the drums start up their beat as the men’s eagle bone whistles take up the tempo, and the four-day ritual begins again.
The regular Tribal election is slated for next year but a special election to legalize alcohol sales is set for Tuesday, August 13. This makes some people wonder what the rush is about, since the tribe can’t really afford a special election and this issue is over 100 years old. “Whatever is motivating this referendum is also motivating the speed it is reaching the polls,” a former South Dakota state representative says. “Follow the money and you will find the answer.”
The first day of the Sun Dance will be the hardest. It rained last night, which keeps the dust down but has left the hot air humid. Over 100 dancers are arranged in a huge circle around the cottonwood tree with women on one side and men on the other. As the heat of the day climbs, two dancers will succumb, and walk away.
Year after year the dancers work together to pay for supplies and organize the Sun Dance ceremony, a ceremony that few people even know about and fewer still participate. In the late 1800’s the United States government outlawed the Lakota traditional religion, forcing practitioners to celebrate the ceremony in secret during those long years of oppression. It wasn’t until 1978, when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was signed into law, that the Lakota could worship their creator openly. And now we openly dance and pray with our pipes because we believe that should we stop, our world will surely end. 
The proposed legalization of alcohol would mean that liquor stores would open up in distressed communities. Starting a business on Pine Ridge is difficult for many reasons, including the fact that there are no empty buildings to lease or basic infrastructure. So a business plan would have to include not only the cost of construction, but finding a water course piping it miles to the site and building a septic sewer system. In the case of a liquor store it would have to be built like a fort, with concrete cinder brick walls, heavy steel doors, barred windows and a roof reinforced with steel. The costs associated with that kind of construction have throttled even the best businesses plans before they could leave the cradle.
Who will pay for the costs of building district liquor stores is anybody’s guess. Most likely a local tribal member will be the ‘front’ for a liquor license, with the financial backing coming from outside interests.
Or maybe the fact that each district was awarded copy million (copy,000,400.17, with interest) for economic development (courtesy of the recentSalazarsettlement) has something to do with the sudden urgency on this matter. One veteran politician believes the council wants to move on the referendum before the Salazar monies can be spent on something other than liquor stores.
In any case, no one trusts the Tribal government to run a business as complicated as a franchise of nine liquor stores and an alcohol regulating commission with a tribal council that has changes in leadership every two years and nepotism is the norm. When you are talking about that much money, politicians are the last people to trust.
TOMORROW, PART TWO: Vote for the Future, Not for Alcohol


Friday, August 9, 2013



WHEREAS Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of The Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Nakota, Dakota & Lakota Peoples of the Great Souix Nations and Honorary Citizen of his beloved New Orleans has these words for the people of New Orleans & the world.

"Today I witness a lot of sickness on the face of the earth" and

" We have come to a time when we the people are the ones bringing
bringing all the prophecies of all the peoples closer & closer" and


The humans are so disconnected from the Spirit Mother Earth now
to succeed we must use the power of prayer. The signs of the white

animals are all over the world. We must be the voices of these white
animals, and

The Tar Sands is the biggest cancer on Mother Earth now they say the
Keystone Pipeline will not leak yet we witness pipe line leaks in Yellowstone
Arkansas and other places which they cannot clean up, and

Even now the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico are poisoning the waters
which are the blood of Mother Earth, and

We must realize that Grandmother Earth is the Source of Life not a resource.
We must pray that our leaders stop thinking only of their personal profit
and open their hearts for healing and their minds to understand they are

risking the future of their own children and grandchildren and


On August 27th we gather on the Sacred Ground of Congo Square to pray for
the healing of the hearts and minds of our leaders. We shall be as fearless in
our prayers as the Spirit is fearless in our protection.
and now therefore



in the name of and by the authority vested in the Council of the City of New Orleans
 — with Paula Horne.

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 9

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 9
"Praying to seek a vision, to seek truth is always right. Truth builds upon itself - as the true mark of a warrior who conducts himself/herself accordingly - so that its beauty may shine in the faces of our children."
--Barney Bush, SHAWNEE
We move toward and become like that which we think about. What we think about creates our vision. If our thoughts are wise and good, then our vision becomes strong and truthful. If our thoughts are junk, then our vision becomes contaminated. It's important to be aware of what we are thinking about. As I live my vision, my children watch and live their lives the same way. We need to live the walk of the Warrior. We need to walk in beauty and respect.
Oh Great Spirit, give me a vision for today. Let me see truth. Let me walk in beauty. Let my heart guide me in truth. The law says the truth shall set you free. Let me be free today.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


If, from your vision, you have learned only this, grandson, then already you have learned much, for true power and wisdom comes from within. When a man realizes his oneness with all creation, when he realizes that at the center of the unive...rse dwells a power greater than his self - this center is everywhere. It is within each of us. Go now and walk the good red road. Mitakuye oyasin. Mitakuye oyasin, all my relations...


Elder's Meditation of the Day August 8

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 8
"The Creator told everyone of us in our tribal beginnings to look after our ceremonies, and each other."
--Barney Bush, SHAWNEE
Our ceremonies are important and each has a purpose. They teach us about the Creator and about each other. The ceremonies teach us to be humble and teach us to pray. They teach us to look inside ourselves. We should remember to pray each morning. Ask the Creator to guide our thinking. Think only good thoughts. Think good thoughts about our relatives and about our brothers and sisters. Pray for our children in ceremony. Give thanks to the Great Mystery of life. All life is sacred. Pray in a sacred way.
Oh Great Spirit, I come to You this morning in ceremony. I come to this sacred place to talk to You. I thank You for Your guidance and protection. Give me Your eyes today so I may see the beauty in all things.

Man Should....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 7

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 7
"Everything I know I learned by listening and watching."
--Vernon Cooper, LUMBEE
Sometimes my mind is talking so fast about so many different things that I can't slow it down. All day long I am judging and making assumptions about everything.
Great Spirit, help me this day to slow down. Help me to listen - quietly. Help me to watch carefully. Help me to listen to my inner voice. Let me listen and watch only the thing You would have me observe. Guide my eyes and my ears to be focused on You. Grandfather, love me today and teach me to be quiet.

What a Great Way to Start the Day :]

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 6

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 6
"We have to have one mind for the Four Directions. Until we reach that one mind, we cannot be filled with understanding.... The Creator will not answer until you have just one mind, just like if you have one person."
--Grandfather William Commanda, ALGONQUIN
The Elders have taught us to balance our lives emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. If I am out of control emotionally, I get angry, doubtful or erratic, I am out of balance. If I trigger bad mental pictures of my brothers and sisters, I am out of balance. If I get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I am out of balance physically. If I don't pray and talk to the Creator daily, I am out of balance spiritually. To be centered, I must be in balance. The Creator talks to me in the quiet and still place. So if I get angry, what I should do first is to pause and get still so I can hear the guidance of the Grandfathers.
Oh Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds, protect and keep me safe today - hear my prayers.

Don't let......

Monday, August 5, 2013

America's Cup Finals Schedule 2013

The America’s Cup is returning to network television in the United States for the first time in over 20 years with NBC.
Coverage begins with Semifinal races 3 and 4 of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, on August 9 and 10, which will be shown tape delayed on the NBC Sports Network.
In the United States, all races covered by NBC / NBC Sports Network will be replayed on YouTube immediately following the television broadcast (internationally the America’s Cup YouTube channel will continue to have live coverage subject to territorial rights restrictions).
Veteran announcer Todd Harris will serve as the play-by-play commentator for the NBC Sports Network telecasts. Harris will be joined by former America’s Cup helmsman and Volvo Ocean Race skipper Ken Read, as well as America’s Cup winner and author Gary Jobson.
Louis Vuitton Cup Semifinals
August 9 – Race 3 – NBC Sports Network – 7:00pm ET (tape delayed)
August 10 – Race 4 – NBC Sports Network – 6:00pm ET (tape delayed)
Louis Vuitton Cup Finals
August 17 – Races 1+2 – NBC Sports Network – 6:00pm ET (tape delayed)
August 18 – Races 3+4 – NBC Sports Network – 6:00pm ET (tape delayed)
August 21 – Races 5+6 – – 4:00pm ET (live)
August 24 – Races 7+8 – NBC Sports Network – 7:00pm ET (tape delayed)
August 25 – Races 9+10 – NBC Sports Network – 7:00pm ET (tape delayed / if necessary)
August 28 – Races 11+12 – NBC Sports Network – 5:00pm ET (tape delayed / if necessary)
August 30 – Races 13 – NBC Sports Network – 5:00pm ET (tape delayed / if necessary)
During the 2013 America’s Cup Finals, coverage switches to the main NBC network for the first two days before reverting to the NBC Sports Network, with live broadcasting of all races.
America’s Cup Finals
September 7 – Races 1+2 – NBC – 4:00pm ET
September 8 – Races 3+4 – NBC – 4:00pm ET
September 10 – Races 5+6 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET
September 12 – Races 7+8 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET
September 14 – Races 9+10 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET
September 15 – Races 11+12 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET (if necessary)
September 17 – Races 13+14 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET (if necessary)
September 19 – Races 15+16 – NBC Sports Network- 3:30pm ET (if necessary)
September 21 – Races 17 – NBC Sports Network – 3:30pm ET (if necessary)
The America’s Cup Finals will also be streamed live on Replays will be available on the America’s Cup YouTube channelimmediately following the broadcast.
Locally, in the San Francisco Bay Area, all racing from Louis Vuitton Cup Semifinals through the America’s Cup Finals will be shown live on NBC affiliate KNTV (or COZI TV).
Internationally, racing is being shown in over 165 territories, across over 30 networks including, Fox Sports (Australia), TVNZ (New Zealand), TV4 (Sweden), Canal+ (France), TVE (Spain), Sportsnet (Canada), and ESPN International (Central/South America, Caribbean), to name a few. Live racing is available worldwide subject to territorial rights restrictions.

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 5

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 5
"It is a paradox in the contemporary world that in our desire for peace we must willingly give ourselves to struggle."
--Linda Hogan, CHICKASAW
The Grandfathers have taught us about sacrifice. We have been taught to pray for the people in a pitiful way. Struggle and conflict is neither good nor bad, it just is. Everything that grows experiences conflict. When the deer is born it is through conflict. When the seed first grows, it is through conflict. Conflict precedes clarity. Everything has the seasons of growth. Recognize - acknowledge - forgive and change. All of these things are done through conflict.
Great Spirit, give me the courage today to see that struggle and conflict are here to teach me lessons that are a gift from you.

Woman's Prayer


I bring this to the Fire first this day for all the beautiful women that sit at our Fire here at the Nation of Shawls. We the men of this family THANK YOU. Grandfather Michael

Woman's Prayer

Great Spirit, I am Mother.
I was made by You so that the image of Your love
Could be brought into existence.
May I always carry with me
The sacredness of this honour.

Creator, I am Daughter.
I am the learner of the Traditions.
May I carry them forward
So that the Elders and Ancestors
Will be remembered for all time.

Maker-Of-All-Things, I am Sister.
Through me, may my brothers be shown
The manner in which I am to be respected.
May I join with my sisters in strength and power as a Healing Sheild
So that they will no longer bear the stain of abuse.

Niskam, I am Committed Partner:
One who shares her spirit,
But is wise to remember never to give it away,
Lest it become lost,
And the two become less than one.

I am Woman.
Hear me.

Pic is called Mothers Prayer by Archie BlackOwl.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 4

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 4
"Telling about our lives is important for those who come after as, for those who will see our experience as part of their own historical struggle."
--Linda Hogan, CHICKASAW
How important it is for us to support one another? How important it is for us to know our culture and to share our experiences with one another? How powerful it is to be authentic? How important it is to hold no secrets? I am as sick as my secrets.
Grandfather, allow me today to be willing to share with my brother and sister. Let my eyes see You in their eyes. Let me not judge them but only love them. Grandfather, help me, for I am Your humble servant.

On This Day: In 1862

On This Day: In 1862 Mdewakanton Dakota Little Crow and 500 Sioux warriors stormed the U.S. Indian Agency in Minnesota and demanded that the agent distribute the food in its warehouse. The Sioux had suffered over the course of the winter and summer for lack of food on the reservation, and had patiently waited for the government to fulfill its promise of food and money distributions. After an initial rebuttal, the agent officially issued the food to the Sioux. — 

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