The virus that now threatens every human inhabitant worldwide poses a specifically even more harmful threat to the lives of not only the Oglala Lakota Nation, but also to indigenous Peoples the world over. Wigmuke Was’te Win (“Beautiful Rainbow Woman”) notes in her recent article for the Lakota Times, that for reasons not clear yet, this virus – as well as similar viruses (the Spanish flu in the early 1900’s and most other cases of influenzas) – dramatically impacts her People at rates almost four times that of European derived populations. Some of this might have to do with genetic differences. Clearly, there are also factors linked to conditions of poverty, unequal healthcare and differences in diet – all of which are related to the systematic oppression Native American’s have been subjected to for generations.
A Letter from Our Executive Director 5/21/2020 Dear Friends,
Our young people are warrioring up!
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, it’s easy to find legitimate threats, reasons to fear and to then turn towards hopelessness. After all, even our neighbors who approach us in the store or on an evening stroll by our home, now pose at least the possibility of a viral threat. Additionally, the discord and disorganization of many of those in positions of leadership engender more hopelessness and frustration than they do inspiration and direction. And so, the virus attacks not only our lungs and breath, but moves on in its assault on our confidence and strength as communities, neighbors and families.
Our youth are called to in a time like this. Their bodies are healthier and better able to withstand the threat of a virus. The elders now must be protected and kept in place at home and away from others — at least for the moment and while the threat is highest. The young people’s inherent fearlessness is also of value now, if tempered by guidance and knowledge. This is also the time for them to learn that the world is bigger than their phones, drama, personal interests and needs. They have always had a profound responsibility to find their place in their communities. To find their unique gift, and to give that gift to their People. However, in the modern world, the obligation to be of service to others, is often obscured by the illusion that we can survive as a species in selfish and self – indulgent ways.
Part of the gift of Coronavirus is that it has laid bare many of our lies and mistakes. The fact is that we ARE all related. We DO need each other. The Earth IS our mother and will bring us back into balance if we do not do so on our own. And our youth DO have a profound responsibility to play an integral role in our communities. And this demands of them sacrifice, courage and strength. The selfishness, shortsightedness, greed and me-ness of the past few generations is being ravaged by the virus. This is a good thing.
Wopila (a deep and immeasurable gratitude),