Oyáwa
You Write Something


I am old enough to remember
when western movies were popular,
playing cowboys and Indians
was a thing, and
saying “Indian” wasn't
cause for a lecture.
Maybe it's strange that
the blond haired,
blue eyed little girl,
who according to White Man's history
would've been a prime target for savagery,
always sided with the Indians
and felt really bad when
they always seemed to be
on the losing side of every battle.
The older I got,
the more I learned,
the more the disparity pained me.
“Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”
had me in tears,
ashamed at my whiteness
and the cruelties inflicted
on those Native Americans.
We have tried to strip them,
not only of their land,
but their culture,
and even their language.
Their plight touched me
on a gut level so that
I've wondered at times
if I may have been one of them
in a previous life.


Today I was introduced
to a website where you
can learn the Lakota language
just as it's being taught to
the children today.
A word a day.
Today's word was
Oyáwa.
It means—you write something.
This is what I wrote.


Sherman Alexie
(the noted Native American author,
if you don't know)
said, “Don't live up to your stereotypes.”
I think that's good advice for us all,
no matter who we are,
where we come from,
or the color of our skin.
Let us strive to be
kinder, stronger, smarter,
better human beings
than we've been led to
believe we are.

Author’s note: For several years now I’ve been donating to St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota. It’s not one of those mega-charities and I feel as if I’m actually helping, at least in some small way. It’s through them that I learned about Lakota Word Wednesday, and when today’s word showed up, it was as if my Muse slapped me upside the head and shouted, “Well? What are you waiting for?” So if you’re interested in learning more Lakota or perhaps helping out with a donation, I’ll share the links here.

Lakota Word Wednesday

St. Joseph’s Indian School

Elise Skidmore ©2020

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