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2018-03-08 / Voices

Anagoptan (listening)…


A good majority of us have the “gift of gab.” Whether it be talking in front of crowds, or at home to our children, at the kitchen table to our friends, or at the office to our colleagues.

We all have that ability to some extent. We also have the same ability to listen. But do we actually listen? I don’t mean listening to get riled up

(which is almost guaranteed when the person you don’t like is about to speak). I mean the actual act of listening; to take in new information and/or a different perspective.

Bear: Waká. wa.ží wóglake ehá.ta. ta.yá. anáopta. yo. “When an elder speaks, you listen” When I was a child this was a heavy teaching and I think that it differs today. I hear during meetings this phrase WAY too much. “I don’t mean to speak in front of my elders…”, however, that person will continue to speak. There is some sort of audacity that person has, they believe their competence or wisdom allows them to supersede that old teaching.

Badger: “From my perspective and understanding, I believe the act of listening requires the ability, from a single person, to put away her/his emotions, beliefs and opinions for a moment to allow for the words of another to be felt and truly heard. I also believe that we, as Lakota people, have a language that was felt and therefore deeply understood. I feel this is why when someone spoke, you acknowledged them by saying, “han” because you were showing that person that you are truly listening.”

Bear: “Han, I heard from an Elder once, “You reach elder status when people shut up when you talk.” I thought that was a cool saying because it signified this person was worth listening to. Lakota people have a way of sensing when someone is original or worth listening to. I know from experience that my words on the radio at KILI Radio reach some and not others. I have deep conversations on the air that I love and learn from and would love hear feedback from, but, most times it’s “I love the Wakalapi Chit Chat Show, you guys are crazy.” How do you get someone to listen?”

Badger: “I strongly believe that you cannot make someone listen. It is a skill that a person will have to witness and live in order to honestly understand what is meant to “listen.” Also, the ability to genuinely listen must be learned by either a parent or someone who has great significance in a person’s life. We carry on our parents’ or grandparents’ demeanor because we watch them and take in their reactions, habits and philosophy. Listening is a skill that is felt deeply within. Which also makes me wonder if we have a difficult time listening because most of our generation and those after us grew up learning and speaking English. Our Lakota language is felt and has deeply rooted connections to everything around us, including ourselves. Not speaking Lakota from birth might have greatly affected our ability to listen which might be contributing to our loss of connection and understanding of ourselves and everything around us.”

Bear: “So true, English’s connection with mainstream society brings attention span to mere seconds. From what I recall, it’s 15 seconds. Hardly any time to get a point across or plant a seed. I worry for the futures ability to listen.”

Badger: “Listen to actually listen and not to react. Want to learn to listen? Visit an elder in person. Be quiet and… listen.”

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