Statement by Dawson Her Many Horses

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Wed, 8 Mar 1995 08:15:23 -0700

me state that the views in this posting are solely mine and are not to be
construed as the official word of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Secondly, I am not
an elder. At 20, I still have many, many things to learn. I ask that you
bear with me and my youthful ignorance.

With that out of the way, I want to begin by saying that I was
surprised by the number of responses that I received. Moreover, I was even
more surprised at the number of negative responses that my letter evoked.
At no time in my posting did I use names; at no point in my posting did I
engage personalities. As such, I think that anyone debating ad hominum
will not persude their, for all purposes, opponent. I try not to act in that
manner, and if anyone who sends me e-mail wants me to take their arguements
seriously, I suggest that they subscribe to the same policy.

I wrote that letter out of personal experience on the reservation.
Based on that experience, my upbringing, and Lakota history, I think that
any suggestions of anger in my last posting are more than justified. Perhaps
this anecdote will give me some credibility.

Last summer while I was at a sundance that my family has danced at
for more than 15 years, a non-native person sitting next to me had the
audacity to "correct" me on something that I did "wrong" concerning the
pipe (i was in the right, i was later told). There are a couple things that
this person did wrong when trying to address the situation. One, this
person violated a certain protocol that says certain people do not speak
to certain other people directly. Instead, they go through others. Two,
as this person was lecturing me, their spouse was bringing their lawn chairs
from the back of the Saab. It's hard for me to listen to anyone, regardless
of race, lecture on the virtues of the divine world when they have so
much invested in the temporal world.

Someone wrote and told me that I was racist. Let the uncertainty
of my composure be a testament to my anger; I think I know what a racist
is, and be assured that I try not to act like one. Granted, we all have
prejudices, but there is a difference between having racist thoughts and
acting on them. Those of you who think that I am racist, what is it
specifically that offended you?

Every culture needs elements of conservatism in order to preserve
itself. It is this implied notion, I think, that I wrote on in my last
letter that angered people. Yet, a common trait of all cultures is that
they're sectarian, and like the early Jews who ranged from the left wing
Pharisees to the conservative Sadducees, the Lakota people are, for better
or for worse, the same way. So for those of you who proclaim that I
advocate a policy of cultural exclusion, don't despair.

On a more serious note, there are those of you who will continue
to think that you can be "Indian" by practicing our ways. <Let me remind you
that what I am about to write is my own opinion> I doubt that you will ever
have the depth of understanding or appreciation of our culture that we
have. Why? Simply put, there's more to being Lakota, or any tribe for that
matter, than sweating and sundancing. Being Indian also means being followed
around inside the store. It means, if you live off the reservation, that
certain landlords won't rent to you. It means that police will treat you
differently than they would treat other white people in the same
situation. It means you might not get that job you applied for because
the manager thinks that people of your pigment are too lazy. Being Indian
means that the white kids in your elementary school will make fun of
your last name. Being Indian means being reminded of your skin color every
day of you life, and, too many times, being penalized for it.

And to that end, I ask that all comments, good or bad, be sent

mitake oyasin