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2018-03-08 / Voices

There Is No Explanation For These Parallels, But There Is The Story Of Survival

BY DANA LONE HILL
OGLALA LAKOTA

One of my absolute favorite things to do when I bead is watch/listen to PBS. My favorite show is “Finding Your Roots” where they take a famous person who basically knows nothing of their past and research and investigate where they come from. Because the country of America is so new compared to the rest of the world, most immigrants from the 1492 invasion and Manifest Destiny days know nothing of their ancestry, often calling themselves mutts and comparing themselves to a bottle of Heinz 57. They also brought over slaves from Africa who hardly know anything of their past since it was not written down, recorded, and they were often not thought of as humans, but as property. As we all know though, this is the history they do not teach you in school, except a mention or whisper of it. This is the shame they sweep under the rug. The attempted genocide of a civilization and the slavery of another is what built this country.

However, our history is and was oral until they came. We lived in tiyospayes to keep track of our relatives and know the history of our families. Even after the Dawes Act of 1887 when Christian names were handed out with a small piece of our own land as if it were game, our people still knew who their people were. So even though it is all on record in some paperwork filed room with the BIA, we still to this day know where we come from because we have the longest history here. It may not be our country, but it is our land. The few exceptions to this would be the children who were removed from their homes in the relocation era, the foster homes, church removal, and other forms of kidnapping our people, mainly as youth.

But often I think of our ancestors and how our lives must intersect at some point even if they have been long gone. There has to be some sort of deeper spiritual path between our worlds, memories we may have that have yet to happen, dreaming of a place we never seen only to see it later in life. Or that dejavu feel you get that can never be explained. And in the show “Finding Your Roots, I see people’s lives intersect with coincidence with relatives long gone. Here are a few examples.

I watch Finding your Roots on PBS religiously. I posted the other day about how Congressman John Lewis’ great great grandfather was able to vote as a free man as soon as it was legal for black to vote, but that right didn’t last long. John Lewis as a young man participated and was arrested in the march in Selma for standing up for his right to vote. Today he is a Congressman for his state and he was the first person to vote in his family since his great great grandfather, which he didn’t find out about until later.

Actor LL Cool J never knew his roots, just his mother, and grandparents. He does remember witnessing his father shoot his mother at age four, she survived. He grew up with his mother as avid boxing fans. When he did his DNA they discovered his grandparents had adopted his mother and her father was actually a boxer who never knew about her. If anyone remembers, LL in his videos and on his album in a boxing ring, he thought it was because he was a fan. Further research into his great grandfather showed the history of him witness the death of his mother, LL’s great great grandmother, by gunshot, accidental shooting.

LL’s mother survived her shooting, her great grandmother didn’t but in that span of 4 generations, LL and his great grandfather witnessed the same thing, both as children, playing on the living room floor.

With the recent mass school shooting in Florida, a young girl hid in a closet. She later tweeted about it as her grandfather had done the same thing 70 years earlier. She said the PTSD he experienced all his life is something she knows she will have to face for the rest of her life. See, these things can be chalked up by many as coincidence, but I think there is more to that. There has to be. It isn’t always something bad, just experiences, life, and maybe a way of your ancestor being there for you whether r not you knew who they were. Like unfinished business. I don’t know what y story is, but I am sure it is not done.

There is no explanation for these parallels, but there is the story of survival. I just get amazed at learning about these kinds of things.

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