Douville Keynotes Third Innovation Summit
~ Mary Burrows
The third summit of the Rapid City Community
Conversations (RCCC) Innovation Teams was
held April 27-28, 2018, specifically to coincide
with the 150th Anniversary of the Fort Laramie
Treaty of 1868. A ceremony was also held at
Fort Laramie proper, where an estimated 5000
individuals were in attendance.
A relatively small core group of teams gathered at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City to envision the community they would like to create along the banks of Rapid Creek fifty years into the future, the long-term vision and goal of the RCCC.
Facilitator LeMoine LaPointe (Sicangu Lakota) of the Barbara Schneider Foundation offered some opening remarks as attendees enjoyed breakfast buffet. He recalled growing up in Rapid City, and as a youngster, riding his bicycle into the Black Hills in the very early morning with his friends. [Imagine that kind of freedom!] When the Rangers hassled them, the boys reminded them that this was their land first. Because they were so young, the Rangers left them alone. He spoke of the strong influence of his warrior uncle (LeMoine witnessed his uncle being “bumped” over a fence by a Bison.), who became a treaty expert and advocate following World War II. LeMoine said the only thing that could knock his uncle “on his ass was Tatanka!”
He spoke of how his ancestors are standing beside him during his advocacy for the Sacred Black Hills. LeMoine lauded the RCCC and the core group that came together to amplify the peace and sanctity of all Life. “We are all relatives,” he said, “and we are here together.”
Next, LeMoine introduced “the two Beverly-s:”
Beverly Warne and Beverly Running Bear,
both Oglala Lakota elders.
Beverly Warne is an adjunct instructor for South
Dakota State University College of Nursing in
Rapid City, South Dakota. During one point in
her career, she worked to fulfill a Bush Foundation
grant that educated more Native American women
Following his service in World War II, her father had moved the family to Rapid City, but discovered there was no housing for Native Americans, not even for a US veteran. She recalled “living along the creek” (Rapid Creek). Beverly spoke of rising from racism and hatred because her Lakota heritage taught her “to be strong.” Rapid City is home to her, and here a diversity of allies is “working to make life better for the upcoming generations.” She advocates for education for all.
Bevery Running Bear is a very strong advocate for the education of youth. A mentor once told her to “Beat the Wasicu at their own game. Be stronger and better!” She serves on the Native American Advisory Board for Rapid City Collective Impact. Forty years ago, she moved to Rapid City and experienced “culture shock at the 99% 'white' workplace.” Her co-workers later gained her trust, and some became best friends. Running Bear recalled pre-boarding school experiences with her uncle, and her own boarding school horror. She said “There was a holocaust in Rapid City that people need to know about.”
Following their testimonies, LeMoine introduced Victor Douville (Sicangu Lakota), as keynote speaker. Victor had ancestors at the Little Big Horn.
One ancestor, Spotted Tail (Sinte Gleska), laid the
groundwork for the Lakota signing of the 1868 Treaty.
His people were torn between war and peace
following Red Cloud's War. He used diplomacy in
bringing the war and peace factions together. They
came in to Fort Laramie, but they did not like it.
Spotted Tail's daughter entreated him to assimilate
with Wasicu, and he came to see that was the only
way the Lakota would survive, even though it meant the end of the Sicangu lifestyle. He took a lot of flack for his stance on assimilation, as had Red Cloud when he signed the Treaty. (He was accused of “selling the sacred Paha Sapa.”) Victor had intended to travel to Fort Laramie for the commemoration of the Treaty to represent the Spotted Tail family. He assured those gathered, however, that there were other members of his family who would represent the great chief while he shared his insights with them in Rapid City.
He shared that “being drafted changed my life.” Victor did not want to go to Vietnam, so he learned cryptography and map making, an education that kept him away from the atrocities of war.
The Sicangu (Burnt Thigh) people, of the
Rosebud Reservation (formerly Spotted
Tail Agency), suffered the most during
the overwhelming land grab of the
Homestead Act of 1862. The government
performed a systematic reducion of Lakota
lands with no compensation by gridding out
the reservations and establishing the
ownership process through homesteading.
The Lakota did not want to “own” the land or
farm, but their meager remaining lands were homesteaded away from them, and the Bison nearly wiped out, so they were forced into the agrarian lifestyle and dependence upon the “largesse” of the federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). It was the destruction of their freedom, self-reliance, and interraction with Nature. And the churches and the BIA did their best to eradicate their spiritual beliefs.
Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota) was quoted as saying, “A cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell. A death wind for my people.” With the advent of the large-bore Sharps rifle in the mid-1860s, a plains-wide slaughter of the Bison that lasted four decades became the greatest mass destruction of warm-blooded animals in human history. Because of the efforts of Spotted Tail and others, the Lakota have survived, however tenuously, but they are here now and strong! It was not a death wind for the people, but it was for their unique lifestyle.
Victor stated that his family is now seeking the relevance of the 1868 Treaty today. The Treaty is/was unique in that there is funding with regard to Treaty obligations. Claims monies held in escrow for the Lakota by the government are now in excess of $1 billion, including interest. Douville recommends going to Congress with “how we want the land restored.” Particularly, they are asking for forested areas of the Black Hills to be returned to them. They have asked that Bear Butte, one of the Seven Sacred Sites and now a state park, be returned to them in a trust status, but state government is loathe to forego the tourism dollars generated by visitors.
Regarding the monies, Victor stated, “Gone are the days of blaming. Now is the time to move on and think of the future for our grandchildren.” He related how a group of Sicangu young people learned about the claims money, and wanted to know why the tribes did not take it. Victor has made presentations to high schools with the goal of instructing upcoming generations about how the Black Hills are “priceless and not for sale. If we have the land, we can stay on it,” and a plan must be developed to get the lands returned. The focus should be spiritual rather than monetary.
Victor believes the large numbers of suicides in Indian country are a direct result of no unity of spirituality. He urges the embracing of a non-materialistic way of life to bring the people back to the center. Remedies should be sought to satisfy the Elders, as well as to move forward with the upcoming generations. “How can we make the treaties work for us today? The bottom line,” he said, “is to understand different peoples and forgive the past to sustain the future.”
He posed the question: Did the Treaty lands also include air space above the reservations? He also stressed assets, such as water rights, which will be retained for generations to come. “Our future is invested in our grandchildren. If the family structure is strong, the Tribal government will be strong.” He desires for the Tribes to have their own monetary resources and cut dependence on the BIA. He is advocating for self-sufficiency, stating that, “Casinos are just a short-term solution.”
Douville is an expert in Lakota Star Knowledge in addition to his expertise on treaties. He moved abruptly into a discussion of Star Knowledge and the future. He predicts that Pe Sla (a huge meadow at the heart of the Black Hills and a sacred site, now under threat from foreign mining operations, which was recently purchased by the Tribes from past owners) will be the battleground when the Missouri River dries up in the year 2040. In the past, the river also dried up in about 1600 BC (sic?), [seven generations ago?] and he mentioned a massacre of about 500 people in the Big Bend area of the Missouri in conjunction with that drought. The mighty Madison aquifer underlying the Hills is also losing millions of gallons of water daily.
Wisdom says that this is the Seventh Generation. A generation to the Lakota is 72 years, which correlates with a 72-year cycle of the earth's wobbling. He states that climate change is what drove the Sioux out of Minnesota. He also said that the Sioux were here first, long before, and that they had migrated to North Carolina because Star Knowledge had warned them of upcoming climate changes. On their way to and from Carolina, they stopped at Serpent Mound in Ohio, which is a tracker of solar eclipses and other naturally occurring events and coincides with their Star Knowledge. [I wish I had a recording of his presentation because it was hard to follow and catch his every word.] He stated emphatically that the people should be ready to adapt to climate change and set their long-range goals accordingly.
Following Victor's presentation, LeMoine spoke of the possibilities within each of us and emphasized moving forward with the utilization of Star Knowledge. Genocide was intentional and sought to destroy knowledge of Indigenous peoples. He also expressed the desire to have Victor Douville work with RCCC more and more to assist with creating “a community that does not currently exist.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFmYAAwBlsk Victor Douville
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dNGbi9Rz44 Serpent Mound
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpjimfICNAY WoLakota Project
[Notes: This past Memorial Day weekend, I spoke with a man wearing a tee shirt bearing the image of the Serpent Mound. I did not ask his name. He knows Victor. He says the drought will actually cause the Missouri River to dry up at about 2036.
On another topic, Victor revealed that he was 'out of a job' at Sinte Gleska University because the Native Studies program had been eliminated...seriously??? at a Native American school???... and a co-worker, whose uncle is also proficient in Star Knowledge, says the word is that the Wasicu woman that eliminated the program has subsequently been “fired.”]
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