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.
Elise Skidmore ©2020