How many long years did I spend with you,
Though Wasicu skinned, wearing the paleness of imperial greed,
The reverberant beating of ceremonial drums
Caused my heart to bleed
Rivers of blood,
Tears that I shed,
Soaking the sagebrush and sorrow-laden plains
Inside the hollows of my bones.
Tiyospaye, you are always.
Pilamaya, always and forever.
Lakota Oyate, you raised me,
A rootless, tender-hearted girl,
Kicking up the dust on some
Empty reservation road.
Lost, but found
In your kindness.
Tiwahe, when I had none.
I filled my plate at your tables, Wojapi and thickened breads,
The laughter of the wild-hearted children
Ringing through the stars like the songs of rainbow-chested prairie birds.
Little takojas, how you grasped my hands and claimed me.
How clearly I can hear them calling, “auntie, auntie, come play!”
And so, the people of the river, below the plains of Standing Rock,
I love you, thechihila,
My little children will forever walk in kindness and humility
Because of the values you raised in them;
Because you drew them in as if they were your own blood,
Because you sewed vibrant ribbons on their shirts
As if they belonged in their humanness,
In their innocence,
To your great nation.
Lakota Oyate, I can never repay you for the way your heartbeat
Prayed for me.
Always and forever.
Fifteen years on a reservation in South Dakota. I will never forget. The people raised and healed me in so many ways. In so many ways, it is home.
Wasicu - White Man
Oyate - Nation
Tiyospaye - Family/Clan
Pilamaya - Thank you
Tiwahe - Family
Wojapi - Berry soup
Takoja - Grandchild
Thechihila - I love you.