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2013-08-15 / Voices

Rez Ramblings

LEON MATTHEWS
Oglala Lakota

Being Indian, wow I hope you know how awesome it is to be Indian, not an East Indian but an Indian that made it cool. I know men who were trying to get in the white world and seek acceptance into their world. There was a meeting after Dances With Wolves in a hotel and the men were American Indian and they asked the question, What If? Yeah it is a huge question but it was a very important question to American Indian life. I was brought up Indian and I believe my mother knew exactly what she was teaching her sons. She taught us we were from Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee. How awesome is that, yes I understand my family came from John Blunt Horn and his daughter Susie. Susie had a daughter named Emily and her grandchildren or the Her Many Horses. I love to tell people they are my relatives, they are smart and beautiful.

I love my family history and every time I find a relative it is really awesome! I was an Indian before Indian was cool, yeah Kevin Dances with Wolves made it cool to be Indian and the movie brought Lakota to the forefront of Native American Culture. How many tribes lost their own culture and now are practicing Lakota Culture to fulfill their own way of life? I have seen a Pan-American Indianism that has seen the Lakota Culture at the forefront of culture being put out there in America. Our inipi and smudging is out there right now being put out there as a way to reach the Spirit. As a Lakota man I am not offended by the people searching for a way, I am a follower of Jesus and a man who is Lakota. I have lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation for 34 years and have been a part of everyday life.

We as a Lakota people have been through the longest holocaust in the history of the World. We have lost a hundred thousand people since 1492 and if you could imagine how many people we would have it is immeasurable in regards to the rest of the world. I feel like telling people we need to open our eyes because we were taught the wrong history. Brainwashed so to speak and I understand the reality of history. I was approached by some people at one time telling me I was brainwashed and I was too Christian. Of course I do not believe I am too Christian because I am not Christian. I am a follower of the ways of Jesus. I know what people believe but I am more than a Christian because I choose to give up my life. It is like the Warrior who tied himself to a stake and let the enemy kill him if that was what the enemy wanted.

I have done the research on our people and have seen a stream of information. We are a beautiful people because we see the life of Jesus. Yes, there are people in our lives who would look only to the White Man because they want to hate. I do not hate but see people as lost because hate and hate does not bring the truth to reality. I am not a Christian, or American, but I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus. He taught me to believe in giving and not taking because it is a way of life. I am a man seeking to understand this life. We get one chance to live and then we die. The Bible teaches us there is an appointed time to die for all of us and we cannot change this reality.

The alcohol vote went through and the world did not change. We live in the 21st Century and we are the last Reservation with a Prohibition of Alcohol and it is not a bad thing. We are battling two values in this world because we are American and Lakota. It is a cultural value and we must seek to understand the way of life for American. Yes we are fully Lakota and we live in an American Culture and there is alcohol in this culture. As a Lakota we did not have alcohol but in the very South there were was the Agave or Tequila where people drank for centuries and have been able to find a world market for the drink.

I do not expect the elders and the people fighting against underage drinking to understand but we will get through the next stages of life. If we vote for the sales of alcohol or against it, it will be the people and it is what freedom means. I know people like Russell Means would say, No. But it will be the choice of the people. I vote for the people and will seek to be a part of what they choose. I will be around and will be for the people. It is my life and the way I have chosen.

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