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2011-11-23 / Voices

Sicangu Scribe Scribblings

VI WALN
Sicangu/ Lakota

Thanksgiving would not be observed if it were not for Indian people. It was Indian people on the east coast who were the reason for the pilgrims to give thanks because without the Indians, the newcomers would have starved to death.

Today I am thankful for my rights to free speech and freedom of the press. Without these rights, which are guaranteed under the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Constitution and By-laws, I would not be able to write this column for you each week. I want to send out a huge thank you to all of our loyal readers for your continued support of the Lakota Country Times.

Like many Lakota people, I do not single out one day a year to give thanks. I am thankful every day of my life. I give thanks every morning for the life I have and for the new day I am being given to live.

Many of us offer morning prayers every day, seven days a week, every single day of the year. Some of us offer prayers at noon, prayers over food, prayers before meetings or other events, prayers at night and even say lots of special prayers when we feel the need. When I hear people praying they always give thanks for many things.

I am also thankful for the air I breathe and the food I eat. Mother Earth is so good to us but we often take her for granted. Also, I believe it is very important that every time I drink or use water I give thanks for it. We must remember there are parts of the world where people do not have access to the good water or food which we have. I am also appreciative of fire, which heats our homes.

I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the Akicita who are far away fighting in a war that I do not understand. I am thankful for the trees and flowers. I thank Creator for all the birds and animals on the Earth because they have taught me so much.

I am also extremely thankful for my ancestors because without them I would not be who I am today. I am thankful for the Lakota children who have given me great inspiration and encouragement in many ways. I am thankful for the Lakota medicine men, spiritual leaders, and the Lakota pipe carriers. I am especially thankful for our young men and women who have taken the time to perfect their talent as Lakota ceremonial, Native American Church and wacipi singers.

I am deeply appreciative of my Lakota culture because it has taught me to be grateful. I have learned to feel appreciation for every minute of every day because I realize that life is short. I do not want to devote my time to people who are not thankful for anything in their lives.

As residents of Indian Reservations, we are faced with many challenges. We might forget to appreciate the things we are surrounded by every day of our lives. Today I am thankful to be able to say that I am Sicangu Lakota.

I do have to share that I also give thanks for all of my people who are still stuck in the crab-in-a-bucket mentality for they show me how not to behave. In my opinion, those of us who grew up on the rez were conditioned to be colonized. The majority of our Lakota people think with a colonized mind. Colonizing the Indigenous people of this continent was the entire purpose of the European and Spanish invaders. Tribal people were not supposed to survive.

The crab-in-a-bucket mentality is a phenomenon brought about by the victimhood mindset. When you think all those dark thoughts that chain you into your victimhood it is pretty difficult to be grateful for anything. So many of the Lakota people I encounter are trapped in their own victim mentality.

So this week I am very grateful for having the strength to overcome my victim mentality. It changed my life. I no longer believe that everyone else is to blame for my circumstances. I now know that I am the only person on earth with the power to change my life. When we make a conscious effort to stop blaming the tribe, government, churches, boarding schools, family members, friends, etc. for what happens to us, our lives will begin to change.

We alone are responsible for the thoughts we entertain in our own minds on a daily basis. Change your thoughts and you will change your life. There is a saying about how practice makes perfect and this can be applied to how you think. Are you thinking thoughts of gratitude or are your thinking about how hard everyone makes your life? You alone have the power to change your own thoughts, attitude and the path you follow in life.

I found this great quote by Steve Maraboli and I would like to share it here with all of you. He wrote: “Today is a new day. Don't let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape your life. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality and embrace the truth of your greatness. You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life!”

Finally, I encourage you to never take anything for granted. The gifts or people you enjoy today could be gone tomorrow. Learn to live in the moment because I believe it is the only way to find true joy in our lives. Rejoice in each sunrise; give thanks each morning to the Creator for gifting you a new day of life. Enjoy your family and friends while you still can. The staff at Lakota Country Times wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers.

Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She can be reached through email at: vi@lakotacountrytimes.com.

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