Aug 28, 2016 - Oceti Sakowin Camp ‘Taking it Back’ by Sunny Red Bear

Bringing in the Horse Nation as Leksi Arvol Looking Horse spoke to the people…The way he spoke & the way we listened made me feel like I was living a Grandmothers dream. In this day I was overwhelmed with a pride that I could not have imagined as a little girl. Growing up I was ashamed to be Native, groomed by history books as the only viable resource to finding out who I was. The only natives that I had known in my life at that point were described to me as drunks, poor & irresponsible. Thinking as a child that I had the same blood pumping through my heart made me hate the most beautiful parts of myself: my own spirit, my grandmothers prayers, my ceremonies, my connection to everything around me. THIS is why the day my son & I stood in the circle holding our pipes to Creator & offering everything we had to give was my “taking it back”. This day as I stood with hundreds of other beautiful, courageous & purposeful Natives gave me hope that my son would feel the power of our prayers, the necessity of our existence & to see the pride we have as Lakota people! The day of our “Taking it Back!”

Some people say that this is a war, if not physical then a war through media & representation, but to us Lakota we understand that this is a Spiritual war & one that I was reminded over & over again at the Oceti Sakowin Camp that will only be won by Prayer! I remained quiet most of the time I was at camp because there was so much to learn & being surrounded by such an enormous flood of emotion & energy I just wanted to take it all in. We walked into camp the first day & as the women were cooking a meal to feed hundreds, many people were speaking to the camp whether instructionally or motivationally & I sat down with son & looked around as I could only recognize about a handful of people I knew. Yet as I melted into the oneness of my surroundings I could not have felt more at home like I had known these people for years.

Son asked me over a dozen times “Did we win, Mom?” Its hard to explain to a seven year old that this is just the beginning & this will continue through his next birthday or birthdays… But I reassured him that as we stand together as one we are constantly winning. We are winning our unity back, we are winning our voices back, we are winning our connections to each other back, winning our community mindsets back! We are winning!

If you have a chance to spend any time at the Oceti Sakowin camp you will see that everything you imagined for us to be as Native people is happening. I have never seen thousands of Natives together so focused on a goal that there are no leaders but only a purpose to obtain that goal. The togetherness that is exuded from the camp is what I dreamed Natives would be someday just as our Grandfathers & Grandmothers did. Every bit of shame that I had ever felt as a child that remained deep into my spirit…melted away that day. The day our men & women stood together & offered our sacred pipes & sang our songs & danced in unison as dozens of tribes stood behind us war hooping, leleing, and dancing with us was the day that I knew the world is never going to be the same! We as Native people will never be the same! This is just the start, just the beginning of many things to come! Opportunities to not show our power (though we are beyond powerful) but to show the world that when your existence is ripped from your hands & you are stripped from everything you’ve ever know including your identity, your spirit and your pride…mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandfathers, grandmothers can pray it all back into existence & it WILL happen! I was stripped of everything as I entered the world & lost my spirit after years of abuse but everything that was once lost will be found again & when it all comes back to you in ten fold remember that it was all through relentless prayer our ancestors prayed before time immemorial!

This is not a revival, this is not just a gathering of Nations, this in not just a movement, this is not just about oil & water. This is a War-cry that begins will prayer & ends with prayer! Wopila Tanka to all my relatives supporting, giving & praying! Lets keep building, keep reclaiming & learning to be PROUD of who we are!

Wasu Hla Mani Win
Sunny Red Bear

Last Real Indians