LINKS
2017-11-09 / Voices

Waunsila Is Not The Past

BY DANA LONE ELK
OGLALA LAKOTA

I like social media and sometimes I don’t. It is nice to catch up on news back home. As people know when you leave, you leave family, you leave your heart, and you leave a place on the rez that is a certain freedom when you go out in the white man’s world where everything is about money. Pay for water, pay to flush your toilet, pay to pick up a certain amount of trash because you can’t burn it in a white man’s world. You have to adapt and live by certain rules and laws and you don’t see anyone with the freedom to ride horse to their cousin’s house, because it is illegal. So in a sense while the rez is a hard place to live, it is also a sense of freedom white men will never have because they are too busy passing laws in order to make money.

It is of no uncertainty money is needed, we all need to eat because of the white man we can no longer hunt when we are hungry without paying for a hunting license. We cannot grow food without time and care and money. The way they are genetically modifying food so that seeds from plants cannot be saved and cows are made just to profit off milk and meat messes up our health, which in turn costs more and more money through medical care and pharmacies. Everything is about money and money is need to go home and visit a place where although money is still needed to survive, even more so sometimes because the utility companies there charge residents of the reservation more than anywhere I have ever lived for services, it is nice to go home and be around family and to be around people, family, and elders who will give you hug, feed you, offer you coffee and a place to stay while you visit.

I find that becoming a thing of the past anymore and have written about it many times. Being stingy seems to be more common, when you visit people will no longer offer a bowl of soup, turn off the heat on a boiling pot even. Everyone likes to wateca but it is not a contest and there is no champion. To each his own and like everyone’s most famous Facebook status “I’m going to do me” it seems as if everyone is “doing themselves” now.

The Lakota value of “Waunsila” should not die, should not be a thing of the past, and it should not be something only elders practice. What happened to us as Lakota people? Some people blame the white man. Some people blame the alcohol, some people blame religion, some people blame Whiteclay and the bar owners there. However no one blames ourselves.

I see people complain of the homeless people who ask for change, of the people who find beads on clothing that is free or sold for cheap through churches and pull them off, cut up old purses to make new items to sell, calling their beadwork pitiful and mad someone wants to sell it cheap because it is made of pitiful items. I see people use social media to complain of people who may or may not be related to them complain of people being homeless and saying they should get jobs. They should sober up. They should shower. They should not ask for change. It annoys the average shopper that anyone would have the nerve to ask them for a dime. Especially in front of the only grocery store in town, where truthfully because it is the only grocery store, it is also the only place people go on a daily basis.

How are the homeless people in front of the store any different than the churches on the reservation who say they are there helping the people, or any of the non profits from the east and west coasts who raise 40k in one night in the name of our youth, or any of the gofundme accounts set up in the name of our people any different. Other than the fact that the homeless people are asking for change and the nonprofits and churches are asking for thousands and millions. Begging is begging, I am sure the homeless people never intended to grow up and be pitiful. It was never their dream but somehow it is the goal of all these people who prey on our poverty and have housekeepers and 401k’s and health insurance and private chefs. No one complains about those people, just our own.

So, if it is such a bother whose responsibility is it to take care of our homeless people? That is the question. Is it the people who claim to have shut down Whiteclay and still camp there and ask for money to stay camping there? Is it the bar owners in Whiteclay? Is it the bootleggers who sell alcohol? Is it the churches? Is it Sioux Nations? Is it all the business owners on the reservation? Is it tribal councils? Is it the individuals who won’t hire them, who ignore them, who go on Facebook to complain about them? Is it the nonprofits who take yearly vacation from fundraising? In a system that was designed and set up for failure with laws and guidelines implemented by the government, poverty will not go away overnight by a society who doesn’t care and pretends it is not their problem.

Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the only places who doesn’t have daily soup kitchen or homeless shelter and probably one of the places in America that needs it the most.

It is pointless to complain about people you don’t care enough to make a sandwich for or pick up a ladle for. We don’t know every person’s story of how they got to be where they are, but we know ours. Let’s not let our Lakota value of waunsila go away. Especially with winter coming.

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