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Living the Lakota Way
~ Mary Burrows
There is a group of people in Rapid City,
South Dakota, that calls themselves “The
Good Hearted People Of The Black Hills.”
They quietly go about practicing Lakota
values. One goal of this group is to
feed the hungry.
Lloyd Big Crow Sr is one of the good-hearted who seek to Cultivate Healing and Unity in the Community. The Lakota name for people following this path is “Oyate Kin Chante Wastepi,” and their mission is “To heal people with Indigenous culture, thought, and philosophy. Defining healing from a Lakota perspective, healing shall be regarded holistically , considering the body, mind, and spiritual well-being of individuals, families, and communities.”
The Vucurevich Events Center at the Dahl Arts Center hosted Lloyd Big Crow's Oyate Kin Chante Wastepi Presentation and Community Feed on February 22, 2020. A delicious meal of Buffalo soup, frybread, and wojapi was served to approximately 90 attendees, many of whom were from the homeless community. The Woyotan Lutheran Drum Group provided an opening presentation, and all were welcomed by Derek “Focus” Smith, a local graffiti artist.
The feeling and energy in the room was one of love and consideration. The young women went around the tables and brought plates for the elders. Personally, when I went to the buffet to get a piece of a memorial cake, as I was returning to the table, a young man almost ran into me. Of course, he said “excuse me,” but then he turned back to me and said, “I'm sorry for doing that, Unci!” Unci means grandmother in Lakota. Because of good mentoring and guidance, some young people are returning to the ways of their ancestors, including, and especially, respect for elders.
Every Friday at 4 pm at the Memorial Park Bandshell beside Rapid Creek in downtown Rapid City, a nutritious meal is served, and clothing, blankets, toiletries, and other necessities are given to all. In speaking with one of my table mates, I learned that Lloyd Big Crow's focus was on feeding the hungry.
Other projects of Oyate Kin Chante Wastepi, which are supported from members' own pockets, include talking circles, addiction recovery support, youth mentorship, and school and classroom presentations. Importantly, there is a monthly Buffalo harvest where youth learn from elders the importance of the Bison in Lakota culture and how each part of the buffalo was used...and every part was used! Meat from these harvests is distributed to families in need...another Lakota value: Generosity.
Lloyd Big Crow urges everyone to follow their Facebook page: Oyate Kin Chante Wastepi. If you search for Good Hearted People of the Black Hills, it will take you to the site. People can message the group on the page, or contact Lloyd at Lbig8157@olc.edu.