I am not racist. This is not about hatred or racism. There
are many good non-Lakota. But the damage from the Government
and the mainstream culture and its almighty dollar is killing
the children of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations. To look
for solutions from the mainstream culture will only bring about
more confusion, more genocide, and more destruction of our
culture and our people.
Yes, our children need help. Then, they also need jobs.
They need work. They need to have hope that they can survive.
They need to be treated like real citizens, free to be who they
The current programs are not working. Our Reservations are
dry but 60-70% of our people are still affected by alcoholism
and drug addictions. There are a few non-profit organizations
that do good work on our reservations. They really do try to
help. But there are also many, many groups who only make money
in our name. We’re a commodity to them, a way to get more and
more money for themselves, while our children are suffering.
It’s the same with some of the Tribal Council and Government
programs. The money never reaches the people, it never really
Our children are living in a world of confusion and chaos.
We need all the help we can get from our own people within our
own culture. Gangs and cults and programs that are ignorant of
the Lakota culture are not the answer. The Lakota child knows
they are Lakota but these other things only work to destroy that
identity. They brainwash our children into trying to assimilate
rather than respecting and understanding themselves. They
contaminate our children with false mainstream ideas and values
which then only creates more desperation.
We could cure our own. We need to cure our own.
In my grandfather’s time, suicide was unknown. But today, it
is everywhere. Our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews
are crying for our help. They are dying without our help.
Traditional spirituality could make the difference. But the
civilized world and Christianity have tied our hands. Our
medicine men, our medicine women, and our spiritual leaders have
no standing. We are not even consulted.
Yet, Traditional spirituality could make the real difference.
Traditional sweatlodge ceremonies could help purify the mind
of these children who have been so wounded by society. It can
wake up the spirit that is inside the person. It can bring
healing of the mind, body, and spirit and it could help heal the
entire family. But it needs to be the real thing, led by a
legitimate traditional spiritual leader, and not just some sauna
with a few nice words.
Learning to prepare foods in the traditional way could help
them, too. It is important they understand that food prepared
in a good way nourishes the family in a good way. They need to
know that food prepared with anger and hatred only brings
sickness with it.
There are many of the Traditional Ways which would work to
bring about healing and hope for these children. It can restore
their identity and become a way of life. It can teach them how
to live a good life, in a good way. It can give them direction
But we need to stop fighting among ourselves. We need to
stop looking to the mainstream society for solutions. We need
to stop looking to outsiders for cures. We need to look to the
Ways of our ancestors to guide us. We, the Lakota, Dakota, and
Nakota People need to help our own grandchildren.
I am not asking for money. I am not asking for anything from
the Government or the BIA except that we be set free. Set us
free. Don’t try to force us to live in the mainstream ways.
Don’t try to force us to assimilate. Let us live in our own
Ways and heal ourselves and our children and grandchildren.
Ho he’cetu yelo. I have spoken these words.
David Swallow, Wowitan Yuha Mani
Porcupine, South Dakota - The Pine Ridge Reservation