"We Lakota have survived for thousands of years, and will continue to survive for thousands more, but only if we stay close to what makes us Indian, to what makes us Lakota. It is in one sense the warrior attitude – an inner resilience, an unwavering resistance, and the ability to endure overwhelming oppression in the face of insurmountable odds.
Anyone who has felt the scorching heat of a South Dakota summer or braved a blinding Montana snowstorm without the aid of modern technology appreciates just how tough Lakota men and women once were. One account says a fit man could go four days without food and water, carry a deer on his shoulders for a day, and run from sun up to sundown. We were so tough in fact, that a people of some 20 thousand stood against a nation of 20 million in 1851 and over 30 million in 1868 to force peace treaties. Though outnumbered more than one against a thousand, we never backed down, gave up, or relinquished our land, religion, and God given rights to live according to our beliefs. It is this never surrender, never retreat attitude that allowed a select few to keep our culture and spirituality alive during the early reservation days, despite every attempt by the dominant culture to “kill the Indian to save the man.” The Lakota attitude drives modern day warriors to provide for their families, keep our spirituality alive, teach in schools, care for their tiyospaye, and fight for tribal sovereignty and a better life for our people.
From birth Lakota children were instilled with all the virtues, the seven principle ones being wacantognaka (generosity) wowacintanka (fortitude), woohitika (bravery) wohola (respect), waonsila (compassion), wowahwala (humility), and woksape (wisdom). The Lakota warrior provided food not only his family, but for those who could not provide for themselves as well. Any difficulty could be overcome because one’s actions determined if the tribe lived or died. With the understanding that God was guiding your actions, riding into the middle of a stampeding buffalo herd was normal. In a world where you depended upon the earth for food, clothing, and medicine, one understood the worth and value of family and creation. Enduring hardships such as pain and starvation created care and empathy for others. Years of learning how from your elders showed individuals their place within the family, tiyospaye, and tribe. A full life of accomplishment and life lessons provided people with an understanding of how to be a good relative and inhabitant of the earth."
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Wizipan Garriot: Lakota Attitude
(The Last Real Indians 12/31)
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