Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Timeline of the Lakota

By: Dana Lone Hill

I was noticing the new timeline on Facebook. Other than putting a cool cover picture up on the page reminiscent of the Myspace era, every individual gets their own little timeline on the right hand side of the page. I have yet to spruce it up or add photos, but you get to go back to birth. You can add a baby picture there or you could use the Facebook baby icon. Your whole life and history is right there. You can add to it if you choose to do so.

I started thinking about a timeline in real life. Not just my personal timeline because if I choose, I could throw it all out there on Facebook real easy. I was thinking of the timeline of my people. A timeline of the Lakota. See, I think when people think of Indians/Native Americans, they automatically think of the wild west. They think of us as one, although there are several hundred different nations in this country. Either they think we are extinct or that we are so immersed in modern society that our way of life no longer exists.

In reality, it wasn’t all that long ago when my Great Grandmother Louise, who used to chop my bangs off with a huge scissors, was born in a tipi in the middle of winter beside a creek. I have a picture of her and her sister in front of a rack of dried meat. When I look at it, I think that this is a lady who has a great granddaughter who is sitting at a computer with millions of people at her fingertips and here she was cutting and drying meat in preparation for winter time. A huge knife in her bandaged hand, she looks tired standing by a wagon.

I have another picture, funny I even say I “have” these pictures when they are actually files on the computer- it’s a picture of my great grandparents on their wedding day, in front of a tipi, in front of a church. I have fond memories of my great grandparents Frank and Aggie Lone Elk. I remember her being a devout Catholic and trying to make me learn the prayers. I remember him taking me for walks and singing the old songs as we looked for timpsilas, or prairie turnips. He would sort the timpsilas by size and braid them into a rope so fast by their roots I had trouble seeing his fingers move.

It was my Great Grandfather Frank’s father, Caesar Lone Elk who is buried across from the grave of Chief Red Cloud, laying at rest next to my Great Great Grandmother Mattie who fought in the Battle at Greasy Grass (Battle of Little Big Horn). Caesar, who was just Lone Elk (Hehaka Isnala) back then, was with the warriors who chased Major Reno and his men up the hill that would later be named Reno’s hill. Grandpa Caesar later in life actually became an Indian Scout for the same military that he fought so hard against to maintain our freedom and way of life. I asked my brother why he thought he did that. “It was probably the only way after that, to still be a warrior, you can’t take the warrior away from us.” I knew it was true, especially when my Grandmother told me that what she remembered of my Grandpa Caesar, he was really good with guns and horses. He was always riding a horse and carrying a gun. He was always making bow and arrow sets for her brothers, his grandsons. She remembered Grandma Mattie hollering at him for the broken windows in the chicken coop that the grandchildren shot out with their bow and arrows. She said “He sat there and kept making bows and arrows and everything Grandma Mattie said went in one ear and out the other.” I thought this was funny. I bet my Grandpa Caesar was thinking, “I chased Reno off and you want to holler at me for a window in a chicken coop?”

I was also thinking of this timeline of the Lakota when the elder Johnson Holy Rock from our Tribe passed away on January 21, 2012 at the age of 93. Johnson was a former Tribal president and World War II veteran. He is credited, along with President John F. Kennedy, in creating the first public housing for Native Americans in 1961. This is the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority. Johnson’s timeline also goes back and is rich in history. Johnson could tell people about the Battle of Greasy Grass, because his father witnessed it at age 11. The story he tells from his father’s account is so detailed and full of action, you can almost see it happening when listening to him tell of that summer day, when the sun was halfway across the sky.

Our history is out there. The timeline of the Lakota is a living, breathing thing. Every single person of our Tribe, our Nation, has a place on this timeline. We need to listen to our elders and learn about our history because someday it will be us telling the little children who they are, where they come from, and who their ancestors are.