Lakota: 1st Historic Meeting with Lakota Elders on July 3rd 2004
On July 3rd, 2004, a meeting with several Lakota Elders of high standing
had been arranged by Garvard Good Plume, Nathan Blindman and Dar Walks Out,
from the Oglala, Lakota Band. All are observer/monitors for the UNPO (Unrepresented
Nations Peoples Organisation), fact finding team on the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation, South Dakota U.S.A.
This meeting took place at the home of Francis.C. Thunder Hawk Snr, of Butte Community in the district of Porcupine.
Francis is from the “Thunder Hawk, Jealous of Him Tiospaye”, and as well as a very gracious host, he also played a vital role of translator for all concerned, as the meeting was conducted both in the Lakota language and English.
This meeting proved to be an historic one, conducted in a traditional and respectful way, the reason for the meeting being that I, Brenda Aplin, a charity worker from England, referred by an UNPO Steering Committee member, could introduce myself and explain why I had come to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the kind of help that my charity is trying to offer. I have been mainly been involved with buying propane fuel, a vital source of fuel for heating and cooking, to as many Elders and family’s as I can over the past 2 years, so am dealing more with an economic factor at present.
Also attending the meeting was Gavin White, a photo journalist from England that had accompanied me to do coverage of the conditions and way of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Gavin hopes to have his work published in the near future.
As each of the Elders and family members arrived, they were each given a copy of the agenda, plus information on the UNPO organization ; the propane project’s page from my charity’s website (www.lakota-aid.co.uk), and a copy of an article that I wrote which was published on the UNPO website, called ‘The Forgotten People of Pine Ridge’.
At approx 12 noon of July 3rd, 2004, the meeting was opened by Francis Thunder
Hawk, with a purification song and prayer sung in Lakota. Then traditional
food, which had been prepared beforehand, was served to the Elders, consisting
of Buffalo tongue soup, Indian fry bread, Wasna and Wojapi (both sacred foods),
coffee and juice. Thank you to all concerned that prepared the food, you all
did a great job!
The first to speak was Gavin White, he briefly explained why he had come to the Reservation and what his work entailed. Gavin has done similar projects in Africa and Europe and has travelled to many parts of the world. He said that the situation out here was very different to other countries he had been to and it had certainly opened his eyes as to how badly the Lakota people are still being treated even today.
I spoke next, and apologized for the absence of Garvard Good Plume, who unfortunately
could not attend due to a family funeral. Also for the absence of Tony Black
Feather, spokesperson and a UN delegate for the Teton Sioux Nation treaty
Council, due to illness.
I tried to explain a little about how I started my charity and why, and also that if there could be a 3 way interaction between the people, myself and the UNPO, that things could be coordinated much better and more positive results achieved.
Next to speak was Nathan Blindman, who explained that he was from the Slim
Buttes Community and spoke of issues relating to his people and how he hoped
that better things for them for the
future could be achieved. He also hoped that this would be the first of many more meetings to come.
Next to speak was Dar walks Out who works for ‘Habitat for Humanity’,
a housing project in Pine Ridge.
Her work was of great interest to the people attending the meeting and many questions were asked of which she had very good explanations to give about the housing project and how people could approach the project.
Next to speak was Holbart White Thunder. He spoke of broken Treaties and the injustices still being done to his people today! He hoped that things could improve and that the Lakota people would be recognized as a soverign nation , not to be assimilated by the American Government.
Mary White Thunder spoke next on issues of never getting any help when requested,
for housing repairs and a host of other things.
She felt that this was not right and that help should be given, but it just never happens!
Next to speak was Clyde Red Shirt. He said that ‘What makes us Indians is a Land Base!” He said that when gold was discovered in the sacred Black Hills, this gave the government, a system based on a military tribunal, the right to do whatever they liked!! He also agreed on the fact that the Treaties were never upheld, another violation of Indian rights!! “Communication was the order of the
day, just planting one little seed goes a long way!” Clyde also added.
Tex Broken Nose spoke next in Lakota. However, he mentioned something in
English to do with the white concept of BC (before Christ). He said that the
Indians recognized BC also, ‘Before
Columbus’ and ‘Before Commodities’ which had everyone laughing.
More things were discussed among the group for a while, relating
to Tribal issues, then the meeting was bought to a close at around 4 pm by Tex Broken Nose, who said a prayer in Lakota.
The meeting went very well indeed I felt, and the feedback afterwards has
been very encouraging. I told everyone that they would be getting a copy of
this report in due course, and that as mentioned earlier on in the meeting,
I and my fellow UNPO colleagues hope that this will be the first of many more
meetings to come.
The people seemed happy to know that they would be kept informed of any issues as they arose, and that their participation in future events would be of vital importance.
I would like to thank everyone involved in the arrangements for this meeting, and a big thank you to all the people that attended.
This concludes the report on the Historic Meeting with Lakota Elders of July 3rd, 2004.
Written by Brenda Aplin-Lakota Aid
e-mail :- [email protected]
July 14th, 2004.