Feb 14, 2019 - Wakanyeja Respect the Children by Matt Remle
Wakan Power, energy, sacred, holy.
Wakanyeja Child, children (sacred beings).
It is said that when Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman) came to the people she touched a child and said “Wakan Ye!” and, in doing so, all children became sacred they became wakanyeja.
Our children, our wakanyeja, are beautiful and precious gifts. These sacred beings arrive into this world as their nagi (spirit) from the stars above enters their thanchan (physical body) from Maka Ina below.
It is not hard to imagine that when a people’s view of children, as being sacred beings, that children would then, in turn, be treated as such. When someone, or something for that matter, is viewed as being sacred then we respond accordingly with warmth, compassion and respect. One would not strike, abuse, neglect or disregard that which is sacred.
Our people traditionally nurtured and took great care of the wakanyeja and raised them in the Lakota ways. It has been said that Tatanka Iyotake (Sitting Bull) had great difficulty understanding how white people could so harshly neglect their children when he saw their children begging on the streets. He took pity upon these white children and is said to have givenaway all the money he would earn from selling his autograph to them. He also worried about the future of the Lakota Oyate if white society’s way of neglecting the children were to influence it.
Colonization, boarding schools, addictions, the loss of traditional languages and influence from the non-Native society has brought devastating consequences to not only our Lakota children, but to all children. Hunger, neglect, abuse, homelessness are just a few of the painful realities our wakanyeja experience.
Tatanka Iyotake once famously said, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” So let’s heed his call to action.
Tell your wakanyeja everyday that you love them, that they are sacred, hug and hold them. Remind them that when something is sacred they are to carry themselves in a sacred way. Let’s strengthen and spread our Lakota value that no child should be an orphan. Extend your time and attention to those wakanyeja who do not have adults in their lives for all wakanyeja simply want to be nurtured, heard and know that someone loves and cares about them.
Pte San Win, Tatanka Iyotake we hear and understand what you have said the children are sacred and we will live and treat them as such.
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)