42 years ago today :: in honor of my Lakota family & friends

it was on this day, 42 years ago that the start of the occupation of Wounded Knee took place. it was six years ago that i was in graduate school in vermont that i was tasked to find a "conflict" that i wanted to do a case study on for my MA in Conflict Transformation. i was talking to my dad about it and he told me that "because you have always been so passionate about Native Rights, you should consider Wounded Knee 1973". i dove in to this time in our history, read as many details as i could, searched high and low to find the most accurate information. i scoured the internet for photos, and one thing kept coming up for me, over and over again - i'd go to sleep at night and i could literally feel the power, the passion, the pain; i know it sounds strange but it was pulsating through me, my heart was so open and so broken and so angry and so sad. i couldn't stop thinking about it, the Struggle the Lakota have been through, the battles fought, the countless dead, the warriors who triumphed. i was never able to shake Pine Ridge from my being. for the next year it was so much of what i thought about, thinking how could i help, what could i do, as an outsider, someone who has never been there before, what would be appropriate and selfless.

flash forward six years, i am in los angeles at four in the morning feeding my seven week old son and a friend from Pine Ridge posts photos of facebook with the caption "never forget". i sat there in the dark, with tears streaming down my face, my heart beating out of my chest, feeling all too much. i missed being in south dakota so much, i missed my Lakota family and friends, i missed the power and the strength and the spirit and the laughter. i missed doing something i believed in so strongly. i missed being of service and helping fight a fight that i believe is my own as well. i know i'm not Native American - nor do i ever pretend to be and i don't get it twisted - but this fight is mine too, and always has been. this fight is all of ours, no matter your skin color. we all have a overwhelming responsibility to honor and respect the Native Americans, the ones that were here first, the ones that we took from and now pretend don't exist except in movies or as mascots. we all have a huge responsibility to speak out in our circles, raise awareness of the struggles and of the oppression, the continuing abuse and systematic and structural racism. we all have a responsibility to one another as members of the HUMAN RACE to do whatever we can to stop this cycle of abuse and stand up and speak out against it. keep educated, help educate others, talk about it, be of service. pass the real stories on to your children.

i went and looked at my photos again today, the ones i pulled off the internet years ago, before i moved to south dakota, before i worked with a Native advocacy org doing healing and community organizing, before i collected stories of the people of Pine Ridge for nat geo with aaron huey with an honor and humility i cannot describe in words, and now i'm here in los angeles on the eve of the anniversary of the beginning of the occupation of Wounded Knee and i feel all the feelings and have nothing to do with them but write on my blog after retiring it a year ago, resurrecting it to share with those that will listen, that They are still here, They are not invisible, They are my heroes and the Warriors, my heart beats alongside theirs and i will never stop fighting the in the best way i know how to honor a people that are of the most beautiful, generous, graceful, hospitable, unapologetic, eloquent, strong, hilarious people i have had the blessing of living with and learning from.