Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Descendants of the Star People, a Poem

Descendants of the Star People
By Lynne M. Colombe 

Smoke chases the light
Like lingering prayers
Of the gypsies before us
Hunters, akicita
Succorers of their
Heritage in 2020
Pte Oyate

Much now is forgotten

Tipi poles of resistance
Lie unceremoniously
On treaty lands
Visual reminders
Conceptions brought to us
From foreign lands 
   When they gave us a Bible
   Put my grandmother in 
   A starched frock and apron
   Forcing Grandfather
   To become a Catechist
   To unsuccessfully save her
Father, Daughter, Holy Ghost

The 7th Generation
Knows nothing but war
Fighting shadows of 
Indian Boarding Schools
Rights to our own children
Our own bodies
Our own lives
Our right to speak 
Mni Wiconi

Four directions scattered 
Wi Can
Our brightest stars 
Waziya Takiya 

This New World of
Discord and experiences 
We should not see
We should not hear
Oyate-ki effie onúniyata úŋ
Have pity on us all,
Wakan Takan

We all return one day 
To the Star World
We are our estrangement
Guided by the ancestral 
Cangleska Wakan

Pathways in the south
Warm, amiable
Solitude, peace, respite
Call to me to live as 
A nomadic Lakota

Smoke chases light 

Friday, May 17, 2019

On Writing

Thoughts on writing...

If I choose to write, then I choose to write literature that connects across cultures; stories that blend the past into our present and show our interconnectedness with our Lakota ancestors. I want to show our strength and the beauty of our culture via humor and language. But - I would also like to explore the uncomfortable truth of contemporary Native American Society.

Native American literature is too often exemplified and exhaulted as historical tales. I want my voice to speak from the present - to bring Natives into the future with everyone else; to honor and value our lives in our common experience.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Quick Write of Fleeting Thoughts

Solitude, Change & Identity

It has occurred to me lately that I have been so immersed in a healing pattern of life that I've forgotten the tapping of my own voice... so with all good things, begins with storytelling.

I spent a lot of time in my mid-20's thinking about my identity. Part of this was due to going to school in state universities in South Dakota, where I was keenly aware of my skin being brown every time I stepped into a classroom. That didn't bother me, due to my confidence in my skill set area of English.

My love with words began with my great-grandfather's words to me as a young child, "Education is the key to beating the White man at his own game. Learn to speak English better than him."

Great-grandmother Carrie Roubideaux-Bordeaux, after listening to me tell her every fact I could recite about dinosaurs when I was only 6 years old at her kitchen table, smiled at me, laughed lightly, and replied, "Indians knew that."

This was reenforced by my paternal grandmother, Vesta Colombe, who though not a drop of Native blood in her, was a warrior in my mind for having the courage to marry a 1/2 Sioux man in the 1930's. She, along with raising a brood of 9 of her own and a few of their friends along the way, was a school teacher. She arrived at one of the first special education classroom on our reservation and took children from beds, put them in chairs and surrounded them with art, and love, and activity. 

I remember once being taken to Grandma Vesta's work as a very small girl, and after watching her students' popsicles dripping down on their bibs as they happily ate away; I was tapped hard on the shoulder and told, "Stop looking at them that way. They're no different than you."

So much shapes who we all are. I have always been so aware of what others were doing around me, and yet find myself identifying as a bit "odd" as I traverse through this middle part of my life.

There are so many life events that we never speak of. Perhaps we have so much to say sometimes that we keep to ourselves because we know that our emotions, thoughts, and feelings are so intense that it might swallow someone up if he or she is unprepared to digest what we have been thinking about.

But in healing, for my own life, I have been trying to seek a balance. Yet, I have become so quiet in my written words that I don't really know anymore what I am saving some of my thoughts for. There is a fear of giving away my formal writing because right now it belongs to me and only me.  I acknowledge that no matter what we write in the fictional character's lives through the pages of our typed words, it is challenging for me as an author to try and keep from unknowingly attaching my identity to my characters, and to keep them fictional. The fear is that of misinterpretation and false exposure.

Being half of one culture; and the half of another has not made me whole. Yet, I am not fragmented; I am just an observer who has become too self-aware and sometimes unwilling to encourage real human interaction. And in my 20's, I did find a solution to this pattern of thinking that led to self doubt.

I imagined one day myself as a little girl of about six. I saw myself doing my favorite thing, which was riding my bike around my then small hometown of no more than seven hundred people. I was happy to be alone, to feel the wind, to peddle around, and avoid the streets where the ankle-biting dogs down one street would be found. I take myself back to the imaginary photo of me, with my one pant leg rolled up on the right side, standing outside of one of my best friend's houses with my bike leaning against my left leg as I kept ahold of the handlebars. I was just standing there (maybe in my favorite terry cloth shorts and matching tank top, and so-awesome 1981 headband), asking myself if I should go knock on the door and invite my friend to come ride bike with me. It took all of 1 second to decide that I was fine on my own, and I remember jumping back on my bike, and peddling away.

This one memory is deeply rooted in the acceptance of my own identity. I was a free child. I most often made choices as a very young person to keep to myself and have always enjoyed my own company. Solitude is part of my core identity. 

Change begins with me

I do a lot of work in change, but I've come to an understanding that my own development and change must parallel things I do outside of my home. There are always those cycles that we inherit that need work. Right now, I am keen at identifying those that don't suit my life or my philosophy of being at peace with those around me, and I've simply given myself the permission to let go. But it is through identifying things I don't like about others, that I really examine myself thoroughly about.

Another aspect of change is to seek beauty often; for when you are as critical of a thinker as I can be, you begin to see the world through a filter of "what if," and "it should be," or "I should become." It's been a physical exercise of mine to appreciate the freedom of the moment, to speak out loud of thanks and gratitude, and to find two good things around me for each thing that I consider "bad." This too heals me.

Writing about thinking

These are the thoughts that I have been carrying with me for the past week: 1) My identity and my voice and the validity or invalidity of me telling my own story; 2) the "Me Too" Movement was not 100% "Me Too"; and 3) Some plants are made to struggle in their growth process so that they will strive and become stronger plants.

Driving along the road here on the Rosebud, between what is called "Meyer's Trailer Court" by those of us in my generation and older, I caught a listen to a public radio show hosted on the local Tribal radio station. I'd long missed the title and was only about ten minutes from home, but I heard a young girl from the Navajo Nation speaking about film making. She had many messages and points to think about but what resonated with me was the fight in her voice which claimed a right to be an indigenous artist who should be invited to be a credited, integral part of filmmaking projects, rather than to be asked to be a "cultural advisor." 

Through her experiences, I felt a sisterhood in my own experiences as a writer in collecting and managing my material for the books on my own experiences at Standing Rock, the movement. I don't want to capture a glimpse of my life, nor brand my own experiences as the Pan-Native American experience either. I have goals and plenty of material, but the colonized brain keeps asking me, "Who would really want to read a book these days? And who, begging further, wants to hear your story?"

While I value the work of all allies of Indigenous peoples, I too feel excluded from conversations about myself and my own people. Throughout my life, I have seen that the allies to my worlds are valuable and necessary, yet do not always include me as a valuable member of that thought community. It is as though it does really take a different lens outside of the gritty one that comes off of the Reservation, for "the outside" to want to try and "understand" the "Indian experience."

I could write another column on why my brain leads to colonized thinking, but I will just say that I try to recognize my thinking patterns when they are corrupted, and make all attempts to re-indigenousize my thinking. (This is where I have been, and am just needing that small catalyst to move me forward. I do have a time constraint coming, and that always served well in grad school, so 'here's here' to the hope of a finished project in a tight time frame.)

#Me Too or the "Me Too" Movement on social media was very unsettling to me. I fully support the movement and the voice of victims of sexual violence to advocate for the rights to not be violated. I have nothing but positive things to say of in support of the movement itself.

The experience, however, for some people who are survivors of sexual violence are so terrifying that they will never identify with anything that will "out them" as a survivor. So, every time I hear a reference on media about #MeToo, I wince just a little bit, because I know so many women who cannot for reasons of their own, Tweet, Post, Blog, or Insta their story because they are still afraid of reliving, or even acknowledging, that abuse.

When I heard via a different show-or-another that I was watching or listening to in the past week, a statement about plants was very impressionable. It was said that if the particular plant on the show (I can't remember what it was) were to be made to struggle, that it would become stronger and the struggle would yield a better result. 

Wow. Now, I am Native, mind you, but in that moment, I had serious bonding with plants.

In closing, this is not meant to be a serious writing today, nor one for my career. It was an old fashioned exercise in the use of written word. Stay grounded, my friends and God bless you all, including all of our allies in and around, "Indian Country."

Follow me on Twitter @ColombeLynne or Like my page on Facebook Lynne M. Colombe, author - Wopila!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Poetry for my Grandmothers

Pardon Me
by Lynne Colombe

Could I be pardoned by your perceptions
pushed upon the People 
that don’t belong to me?

Could you discover
with a humanitarian lens
the hundreds of years 
of memory
of my-story 
not history
that keeps your world 
from acknowledging mine?

My experience inside
the tipistola door
was square; 
floor littered 
with a white paper doll 
dressed in a brown bag
Indian dress 
cut out of
my grandmother’s memory.  

Your blood
lacks the atoms 
of indigenous trauma;
wherein a place 
in your world
for me
is as a
discarded thought
in your grandfather’s history. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Connecting the Dots... An audio of a Native Perspectives on the Covington Catholic incident

It’s a cold and snowy morning on the Rosebud and I’m happy to hear the federal government has reopened for three weeks. Many implications of this which I hope to blog about later. I wanted to share an audio of “Connect the Dots” radio show in which I was interviewed on this topic by Alison Rose Levy. So, if you have time or a long drive ahead, have a listen. https://connectthedots.podbean.com/e/connect-the-dots-an-indigenous-perspective-on-the-meeting-between-diverse-groups-in-dc/

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Nathan Phillips Social Media Storm & Interpretations for Education and Tribal Communities

The Nathan Phillips Social Media Storm & Interpretations for Education and Tribal Communities

After the incident between the Covington Catholic students (participants of the Right to Life March) and Nathan Phillips (Native American participant in the Indigenous Rights March) began to be shared by people online, a storm of social media reporting became available to those of us at home with an interest of "What's going on in Washington," and we were quickly thrown "into the mix."  People (like myself)  then proceeded to gather our news from our plethora of sources, including social media.

When the story of Nathan Phillips, elder from the Omaha Nation, and his group became involved in a "situation" at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, January 19, 2019, at first it caught little attention. But by mid-day on Sunday, January 20, 2019, a slew of various views began to storm the Internet from what some will call "The Far Left," which portrayed the Catholic school boys as "MAGA hat wearing little dipshits" whom a good many commented "would like to wipe that smirk off his privileged little face." (quotes from social media). 

Lest not forget the extreme reporting that ensued on "The Far Right," which then, vilified Nathan Phillips, elder and veteran man from the Native community and highlighted the school as impeccable in their response as the young Nick Sandmann "Stood His Ground." Hence, after a day or two to expose all camera angles of the confrontation, attempts at salvaging the character of the children and the image of the school; a response by Covington Catholic School boys was issued, specifically by Nick Sandmann, after having hired a PR firm, then led to a spot on "The Today Show" this morning.  

Let's just say that by Tuesday morning, I honestly, after hearing about it on all sides, wanted to shut down my social media for 30 days.  I didn't feel betrayed by the media; I felt an overwhelming reaction to the reaction of others; who reacted as I had expected them to.  I am reminded of the saying: "There are three sides to every story. One person's side; the other person's side; and the truth."

It's a great saying, but in this story, there are actually four sides. The side that I picked up on right away but, like most, didn't pay attention to, was the Black Hebrew group of just a few men who had actually been the group engaged in a conflict with the school boys.

So, I'm going to try to give a synopsis, with as little glitter as possible, as to what happened, though I was not there. 

The Black Hebrew group of marchers or protestors were engaged in a conflict with a group of young men from a Kentucky Catholic School, Covington Catholic. These young men were attending the "Right to Life Movement" with chaperones and had been yelling at the Black Hebrew group and were being yelled at as well. Nathan Phillips, Omaha Nation elder and friend, was with other indigenous, Native American people who were ending their March for Indigenous Rights. The groups somehow all ended up at the Lincoln Memorial at the same time. Some banter between all sides had ensued. Sometime during these epitaphs being yelled between groups, Nathan Phillips decided to try and diffuse the tension, and he began to sing the American Indian Movement song. While he was singing, student Nick Sandmann stared at Phillips in the eye and stood directly in front of him. The students from Covington Catholic began what they report were "sports cheers" and "Tomahawk chops" and some jeers were also reported. Evidently the students were thereafter informed that their bus had arrived, and they stopped and ran to their bus. The situation was then pretty much over.

Parts of the story that would most easily be open for argument, I skipped over, because at this point, I do not want to argue. As a Native person myself, I just want to support my friend Nathan, speak a little about how I came to know Nathan, and a little bit about his character as he has demonstrated to me. 

I met Nathan one arctic, December morning, just a few days before Christmas in 2016, at the top of the big hill entrance into Sacred Stone Camp (Standing Rock Sioux Reservation). I had been sitting there for about half an hour, not wanting to wake security, drinking my coffee and watching as the lights across the river to the drill pad were shut off; and as the first light barely broke through in the sky.  I was alone, and had just left my hotel in a huge U-Haul truck loaded down with wood, pulling a trailer with wood for camp. Though I am a farmer/rancher's daughter, I cannot drive anything very well with a trailer on, and had woken up that morning pretty stressed out about having to drive those trucks, loaded down, into a river bed, before it began to thaw the few hours it might thaw mid-day. My crew had headed back home because we had entered in the night before in near-blizzard conditions, and I had about 12 hours to get back out of Standing Rock if I was going to be home with my own children in Rosebud at Christmas.

I reminded myself of the simple prayer, "Whatever you need, will come right into your path." And I prayed, "Tunkasila you know more than me what I need, and I trust that You know that I am here to do Your work, and that You will put whatever and whomever I need today in my path."

It was with prayer and some caffeine that I ended up on top of that hill, waiting and wondering, with the motor running, just how I was going to pull this wood haul off. I had the one loaded down truck I was driving; and I had one more back at the Casino parking lot to haul in too.  

That was when I saw a tall, Native man walking toward me. As he got near to the truck, I rolled the window down and said, "Good Morning." Conversation ensued, and I soon asked, "Do you know how to drive a truck?" Nathan replied that he did; and I then said, "Do you think you could help me drive this truck down into the river bed and get it back out without getting stuck?" Nathan replied, "Yes, I think I can. I used to drive a truck." So, I took him at his word and said, "Okay, let's go get the other truck!"

Nathan got both of those trucks down into the river bed nicely, and it was a pretty nervous moment when he went up the hill with the first truck and trailer after we emptied it out of all the wood we had brought in from the Rosebud. I keep thinking to myself, "Man, if he gets stuck, I am not going to get out of here today," because in the back of my mind, we still had to drop trucks off in Bismarck, pick up my car from my friend David Demo, get groceries and supplies for my crew and provide for the short list given to me from crew and from campers, and then drive myself back home (about 5 hours) south to my kids before it started to snow again.

My new friend pulled through! One of the best moments ever was watching him walk down that hill and make it back to the river bed.  We were working on unloading the second truck by this time. The helicopters were whirling above us, and I was joking with the people helping us unload, saying, "Man, the government must be really disappointed that all they will see is wood!" More colorful screams erupted from time to time as the helicopters came near and hovered above, campers shouting, "No DAPL!"

With the second truck and trailer unloaded, Nathan and I jumped in the truck cab and took deep breaths. We didn't even say anything, but we both knew it was one of those "make or break moments."  We had unloaded by "Yurt Village" at Sacred Stone Camp, which was just beyond the "Back Gate" and down in the actual riverbed of the Cannonball River. There was a kitchen down there, and many of the campers were having a hard time going to the top of the hill to get wood; so it was a high risk to sink and get stuck anywhere between the riverbed and the top of the hill having that truck down where it was. With a silence we started out, and he gunned the engine just a little bit as we approached the big incline to get out of the riverbed. The truck and trailer easily cleared the top of the bank and caught firm dirt under its tires, and with windows down, we both threw a fist out and screamed, "HOKA HEY!"

This is one of my most memorable moments of the Movement at Standing Rock. It was a moment of victory. We had overcome so much; and my main objective had been done.  We did get those trucks back, and I learned a lot about Nathan Phillips, and came to call him my friend.

I learned that it was only about a year since his wife passed away, leaving behind a youngest daughter who was still a minor.  We went shopping for camp and I took him to Kmart and told him to buy anything that they needed.  He bought food and clothing, and was very humble about everything. We shared some food and bought some more for his daughter, and went to Old Navy to buy her warm clothing for Christmas.  I made sure they gave him boxes for Christmas at checkout.  As the weeks went by, I tried to stay in touch with him and assist however I could. And Nathan became apart of the Movement in an increasing way as the government and Tribe and community of Cannonball began to order the camps' shutdowns. I was eating dinner with him the night before the "Main Camp Takeover" and he was worried about his daughter, Alethea, who had insisted on staying there overnight. 

Nathan continued his activism in the community that had come from the fringes of the Standing Rock Movement. Nathan and his daughter had arrived at Standing Rock about the time that the veterans did and the first thing that happened was they were snowed in at camp, without much resource at all. It was a bit of a blessing to us both, to have met one another. We became allies, and are still allies, in the rights of indigenous peoples. 

The Teaching Implications of this happening with the Covington Catholic school students, Nathan, and other group is an example of so many things. The teachable moments are endless.  But I will say two things in final response:

1.) Native American people are forgiving people; many of whom are also Catholic. It is with no reservation that I can state that forgiveness will be given to all in any instance where it needs to be given. Perhaps it will take some more time than others, but a peace will quickly be restored.

2.) Native American people do not forget. We come from an oral tradition. And as best said by Megan Red Shirt-Shaw on her public Twitter account, "I don't need 15 camera angles or 500 news articles - I just need 1 shot of that face. We don't need conspiracy theories, the Native community knows exactly who this kid is, who all these kids are, and that's all that matters."

Wopila, pilamaye.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Being Native in American Can Be Great Again

by Lynne M. Colombe

A short essay examining the "Make America Great Again" Debate and wondering, "Where does this Native American woman fit in the newer, and even greater, America?"

Sometimes we hear things from other people that allow us to gain a different perspective. For me, a recent intrusion into my own way of thinking about life came through a popular, weekly drama show that I watch about a blended family. In one scene, it was pointed out to the main character that he didn't see anything "but the problems" around him. That he was not one of the community because even if he had a beginning there - he could not see beyond what he had determined, "needed to be fixed."

Much of America seems conscious about a secular opinion that America has denigrated to a state where it is no longer great, according to the political slogan of the White House, "Make America Great Again." But, those that purport this reasoning might have lost sight of those who were actually already here, those who functioned despite the holes in the walls or the leaky pipes before their guests arrived to point them out. 

The obvious concern right now is that of the land, and that of our right to have a voice - no matter how secular that voice may be - over what happens to the natural resources that by a natural law should be preserved. For two months a sickness has been on the reservation causing respiratory illnesses. I have been affected, as well as one of my daughters, and I have read about different areas around the United States confirming certain diagnosis of citizens in localized areas presenting with the same concerns. 

After coughing for over two months, and repeated visits for the same and slowly lessening symptoms for my 11-year-old girl, I asked the physician why there was no diagnosis in the area. I was told because it would take "a couple thousand dollars" to take cultures from people and determine the actual cause. Yet, I live near the Tribal hospital airport and hear planes flying over my house daily, up to five times a day - knowing that each time it goes overhead it costs more than $10,000.

So, one then starts thinking about the salary of surgical staff and equipment and other doctors and medical staff that it would take to stop the exportation of our federal health dollars and invest them into our own hospital, rather than for paying for the same healthcare and an airplane ride there to access it.

The pipes are leaky.

Immigration is also a very hot issue across the country. People are being separated from whole families, with children being detained across the country, and rumors and truths mixing together about the conditions for all involved. And then, there is the fence.

There are rumors on the Reservation that our federal rights to exists are under attack. There are rumors that the current administration in the White House want to take away the right to protest. There are rumors that the White House has said that if the Native Americans wanted to live on the Reservation, that we could all be put behind walls of our own.

With the social media and various and flooding news outlets pouring campaign after campaign into our newsfeeds, it is hard for Native American women like me to not believe much of the news that our lands, waters, rights, and livelihoods are under attack. But like the Donkey in Animal Farm, I can only think that it will always be this way - because it has always been this way.

There is a hole in the wall.

What can happen to me as a woman, who has lost her voice so many times that I am barely speaking again? What will happen if it is legally taken from our culture again, to silence our cries for the rights of plants and animals to exist peacefully with us for as long as the earth continues to support our environmental footprint?

What are we doing as a country? All of us, from every part of life that we meet one another from across this planet - what is it that we all actually need?

As a Lakota woman, I need to continue. I have three daughters who have inherited genetic beauty and trauma, who are going to have to learn to live in this world where there may not be a place for them one day. Should they choose to not have children with a man from my Tribe, their children may cease to exist on our paperwork with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They have many things to think about that other children may never have to know - and learn about fractions in a whole different way.

My mind races back to all of the American History that I have learned; to try to trace my finger across the aged pages of rhetoric devised to keep me in my place - and I can't find my place, still.

Maybe my opinion as a Lakota woman is that there will always be much to be desired in the home of women such as me; and that it is neither a tragedy, nor great, that I survive despite who is in the White House. It would be a great nation to me, if it took care of the leaky pipes and holes in the wall that are being created by the discords of racism and discrimination that seem to pervade most areas of society, so that my daughters can live with the same concept of "greatness" as others.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Fighting Undefined

Fighting Undefined...
Definitions for My Future Granddaughters
     By Lynne M Colombe
     July 23, 2018

Discrimination now is not 
defined by Webster
 - for today
it was the tears
Running down my cheeks
In the shower that I took
where I had been going 
 - to hide the pain
from my light 
 - skinned daughters.

Racism in the moment was 
the cry
of a brown mother
 - in her solitude 
Realizing that once again
 - The Wasicu wins 
at His own game.

The rules were shifting
since the Fifth of July
 - a day after His Independence
I declared, 
“Sometimes I hate 
being Native.”

Unjust is not in this year’s
National Spelling Bee
because it is too simple
 - a word
with too complex 
 - a definition
for this nation
fighting itself.

But it is you, 
 - Wincicila ki he 
yet to choose 
your parents
  - Perched from the stars above
Hurry not on your way here
as the path is still
 - rocky;
with no assurance
that you shall 
be created equal
 - either.   

For in my adult life
 - until now 
there was nobody
  No horses paid
  No Wicasa
  No clear identity
 - only memories of
being a child
a student
a Lakota woman 
who was not valued.

I want more for you.

It is solely 
for that reason,
Unci continues
 - undefined 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Altruism in Lakota Culture; an Outlook on Reservation Education

The real thoughts and philosophies of a Lakota educator after 20 years in the trenches...

By Lynne Colombe
I consider myself a survivor of the Reservation education system because somehow, even though most statistics to date purport that the Native American child is years behind his non-Native counterparts across the United States, I managed to score in the top percentiles of any test I ever took as a child, on and off the Rosebud Reservation.
Therefore, when students grow into their high school years and ask me for my personal advice on what to do in high school to prepare for college; if the student is one living on the Reservation, for years I have only been able to offer the advice, “Teach yourself.”
I realize that my response is an apathetic one; reflecting my preference for the education I received off-Reservation in Apple Valley, MN during my freshman and sophomore years in high school, to the indifference of my junior and senior years at the Todd County High School.
You see, I had interpreted at fifteen years old, when transferring from one school to the other, the absolute difference in educational systems. In Apple Valley, I was in accelerated classes and was met with high expectations, real homework, choices in curriculum, and a pedagogy that demanded the thinking of a future educator, biologist, journalist, or etymologist.
However, the status quo of education I received from my Reservation education taught me to accept a rigid system designed for a rudimentary education in “the 3 R’s - Reading, Riting, and Rithmatic.” At seventeen, I had felt that this system prepared me for no more than work as a secretary or physical laborer. Reservation schooling never had an aim of teaching me to think; it just gave me a ton of multiple choices to choose from on an otherwise blank page.
Dr. John Rogers, Professor of Education at UCLA wrote an article (partial titled), “Just Talk: Voices of Education and Justice” (available at https://centerx. gseis.ucla.edu/the-struggle- for-educational-justice-in-the- age-of-trump/) and his words resonated with me for many reasons:
“Some of what is needed has long been the hallmark of educational justice work: Protect those most vulnerable from oppressive policies and systemic neglect; Connect progressive labor, community, and youth organizations in sustainable networks and coalitions for learning and action; and Construct robust models of school and community-based learning that expand youth opportunity and voice.”
My questions, next, become, “At what point when we fail to educate children to read and write, does it become criminal?”
And, if it does becomecriminal in our mentality to graduate students from the twelfth grade who cannot compete toward the educational paths leading to jobs and careers available to “other successful Americans;” then, “What?” I would ask further:
“What can justify the great loss to the children in our own communities via suicide, crime, drug addiction, and depression as the results of that failure? What more does it take for ‘the leaders’ to take a look at where we come from and where we are going, and create the vehicles for initiating social justice for Lakota children?”
Is the altruism of the Lakota Way “Wo-Lakota” no longer with us? From the Lakota teaching (cited here from the Sinte Gleska University website at https:// sites.google.com/site/sguvcte/ seven-values-of-lakota-life) we learn about:
Wa on’sila - Caring and compassion; concern for one another in a good way, especially for the family, the old ones, the young ones, the orphans, the ones in mourning, the sick ones, and the ones working for the people.
Wowijke - Honesty and truth with yourself, higher power, and others with sincerity.
Wawokiye - Generosity and caring; helping without expecting anything in return, giving from the heart; and
Wah’wala - Humility; we have a spirit and are not better or less than others.
In closing, as the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Elections come nearer for another round of leaders, I question the ability for others to feel anything other than an apathetic view that: “Nothing can change; or nothing will change no matter who is elected.”
It is a difficult walk to follow that of my great-grandfather and World War I veteran, Francis Bordeaux of old Horse Creek. As a Councilman in his time, he served on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council without pay. At that time, he had no car; and Grandpa Francis had to rely on the charity of his friends, his “kolas” to get him to meetings over 30 miles away.
When people are asked to serve their communities in an altruistic way, which means they serve their constituents and people without expecting anything in return, without nepotism, without pay, without recognition, or even without the peace to do their jobs; what can be said of being a traditional leader?
Are we all now apathetic or altruistic as we move into these Tribal, and national elections this summer and fall? And what social justice, if any, can we win on behalf of educating children? Is there any social justice at all? Or are we collectively, apathetic to change?
Author Credit:
Originally published Page 2 Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Todd County Tribune

Friday, December 30, 2016

Imposed Silence

Stream of Consciousness Writing 12/30/2016

by Lynne M. Colombe

What do you do when your pen
has been quiet for too long;
When you let someone steal your thoughts
     and force you to abandon your feelings
     onto unmarked library catalog cards
all in the wrong drawers
overfilled and unorganized?
- Obsolete

When you can't sing; but you know the song
and want to
The sheet music slides through your fingers
and blows away.
Chasing it, you catch it;
     only to unearth that
it was blank and the lyrics are
     a scribble about a memory
That nobody but you
     can understand.

It's the chapter you read,
in a book you ignored
     too long;
reading the same paragraph
     over and over
making sense nowise;
     but you keep reading -
Absorbing nothing at all.

The conversation that stalled before
anything was said at all;
     fear upholding
the lock of words behind my mouth -
     ideas and thoughts confined
behind clenched teeth and fists -
Fighting to be free.