Wounded Knee, Lakota (formerly South Dakota) – Thirteen days and 287 miles ago, 44 people mounted horses and began the Memorial Chief Big Foot Ride in honor of Si Tanka (Chief Big Foot) and his unarmed band of Mniconjou and Hunkpapa refuges who were slaughtered by U.S. Calvary in 1890 at Wounded Knee.
After 150 years of colonial enforcement, when you back people into a corner there is only one alternative. That alternative is to bring freedom back into existence by taking it back - back to the love of freedom, to our lifeway.But while these 44 riders began their journey under the shadow of U.S. Treaty, their numbers will swell to over 100 and end under the protection of a free and sovereign Lakota Nation.- Canupa Gluha Mani
The ride began on December 15th in Standing Rock, the anniversary of Sitting Bull's death, and has traveled through fierce snowstorm and cold, the same conditions faced by the 357 mostly women, children and elder men at Wounded Knee Creek 127 years ago.
"The purpose of the ride is to ride the spirit trail of Chief Big Foot," said Tegihya Kte also known as Garry Rowland, leader of the riders and recent delegate of the Lakota Freedom effort in Washington D.C.. "The Tree of Life died in Wounded Knee in 1890, and the ride was begun to mend the Sacred Hoop."
Riders ranging in age from 10 to 65 travel the footsteps of their Ancestors, along the way offering prayer for the women, children, the Elders, and the conditions the Lakota people are forced to live under today. For the children, the ride is also a powerful introduction to the sacred relationship between the Lakota and the horse and the courage their Ancestors took during their 13 day walk from the site of Sitting Bull's assassination to Wounded Knee.
"My sons and now my grandsons have participated in the ride," shared Tegihya Kte. "They ride for our future and the self-determination of our people."
The self-determination of the Lakota now takes on powerful meeting as the Lakota Freedom Delegation traveled to Washington D.C. and withdrew the Lakota from their treaties with the United States Government. The ride becomes an outward expression of sovereign Lakota rights and spirituality.
Tegihya Kte said, "We don't want the government telling us what to do, we want to be free."
Lakota Freedom delegate and Cante Tenza leader Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.) agreed, "The Lakota withdrawal in Washington D.C. brings real protection for our people today, exactly the real protection Big Foot sought for his people then."
The Lakota from the Sioux Indian reservations of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana who have withdrawn from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country and have alerted the Family of Nations they have now reassumed their freedom and independence with the backing of Natural, International, and United States law. For more information, please visit www.lakotafreedom.com.
In the face of the colonial apartheid conditions imposed on Lakota people, the withdrawal from the U.S. Treaties is necessary. These conditions have been devastating:
Lakota men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of
any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti. Lakota death
rate is the highest in the United States. The Lakota infant mortality
rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average. Teenage suicide rate is 150%
higher than the U.S national average for this group.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL More than half the Reservation's adults battle addiction and disease. Alcoholism affects 8 in 10 families.
INCARCERATION Indian children incarceration rate 40% higher than whites. In South Dakota, 21 percent of state prisoners were Native. Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation.
DISEASE The Tuberculosis rate on Lakota reservations is approx 800% higher than the U.S national average. Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average. The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average. Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar foods that kill Native people through diabetes and heart disease.
POVERTY Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year. 97% of our Lakota people live below the poverty line. Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes.
HOUSING Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing). 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricty. 60% of Reservation families have no telephone. 60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds. There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.
UNEMPLOYMENT Unemployment rates on our reservations is 85% or higher.
THREATENED CULTURE Only 14% of the Lakota population can speak Lakota language. The language is not being shared inter-generationally, today, the average Lakota speaker is 65 years old. The Lakota language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction.
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