I was asked to write about someone I felt compassionate about. I choose my father of course. The professor thought it would be a good idea to write in first person so here it is! The professor is Takaki! He is one of the main professors in Ethnic Studies and wrote a few amazing books! Hope you enjoy!
“The Beauty and Power of a Prophecy of a Family”
as told by my beloved father – Shunkmanu He Miye Lo -
to me - his daughter, Ampaowin
Submitted by: Deloria Many Grey Horses
If this story is ever going to be told it has to be told from the very beginning...Many moons ago before the Washitu (white man) ever stepped foot onto this Indigenous soil, when Native people remembered the Medicine Wheel and sought to grow in all four aspects and cycles of life – emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual - each element intertwining with the other until finally the circle became interchangeable. When men still remembered the importance of kinship and realized the longest journey in life is from your head to your heart. When prayer guided the holy men and the full realization that the development of spirit was the most important part of reality. The spiritual world was very much a reality to the Yankton Nation and great prayer was in order before making any tribal decisions. During this time holy men began to see a change in the world around them and the ancestors began sending signs of a long winter time – a winter time of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual hardship. Although this news was alarming to the many thousands of tribes across the Nation, there was also a prophecy of certain family and individuals who would be placed on earth to help guide humanity through this long wintertime. A prophecy that spoke of the slaying of the White Buffalo that would give honor and responsibility to the family who kills this White Buffalo and seven generations there after. And now we begin our story of three descendents of the White Buffalo and Seventh Generation prophecy.
My name is Shunkmanu He Miye Lo!
Chanupa Sapa He Miye Lo!
My sacred and ceremonial names are, A Leader of Warriors Who Take the Enemies Best Horses and a Sacred Black Pipe Born of Thunder, Lightening and Rain. I stand fully responsible before the Creator for all my words and actions. Like many of my fellow Natives I was also given an English name at birth – the name the government uses - Phil Lane Jr. I was born on July 3, 1944 in Lawrence, Kansas. For the first three years of my life I lived at the Haskell Indian Boarding School in Powhatten Hall that is named after a great chief. Fifteen years prior to my birth, while my parents were attending boarding school, they fell in love and got married. Haskell Indian Boarding School was the home for many Indian leaders such as Powhatten, and thus subsequently, a hall was named after the chief. Another great Indian leader who spent many years at Haskell was Billy Mills - the first American, let alone Native American, to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the Japanese Olympics in 1954.
At the time of my birth, my father was in the U.S. Marines stationed in Panama and the first time he could get time off was nine months after I was born. He described many times of those moments he would go up to the highest hill on the base and pray for the great blessing bestowed upon him, my birth, a son. At an early age I learned I had a destiny and a responsibility to my people. My father always recounted the stories of our ancestors and described the many hardships our people faced. My father grew up on Standing Rock Reservation, one of the most poverty stricken reservations in the country. The average life expectancy for a Lakota man is forty-two years of age, while the majority of the Native Americans make less than $12,000 a year. Domestic violence, diabetes, diseases, and drug and alcohol continue to haunt my Dakota and Lakota people. All of these factors are results of intergenerational trauma my ancestors faced for the past 400 years. At the age of four my father stood at the end of the hall, unable to even give his mother a hug goodbye, in fear he may become infected with tuberculoses. In later years, I could see how important showing affection to one another was to him. Before he passed on to the other side of camp, I would watch him with my daughter, Ampaowin, and tears would fill my eyes at the love he gave and showed her. It took him a long cycle before he arrived at this understanding, for as a young man he ruled with an iron fist.
Generations and generations of Indian people suffer from great oppression and cultural genocide that is still evident in the lives of our children and their children. This was the case for my parents who had been ripped from their family and their culture at the age of five and eleven. They were sent to boarding school thousands of miles away from their communities. They were forced to embrace the right culture, the white culture. What do you think would happen if you went into a community and took all the children between the ages of five and eighteen and forcefully cut off their hair, assign them Washitu (white) names, and shame them for being Indian. Not only were these Indian children taught to hate their culture but also they received horrific physical, emotional, mental and spiritual abuses. My ex-wife Martha Many Grey Horses use to tell me horrific stories of abuse she received during her ten-year stay at St. Paul's Residential School on the Blood Reserve in Alberta, Canada. She has deep scares all over her bottom because one time her little cousin who was in her class began to cry because he did not understand English and Martha felt so bad for him that she quickly turned around and told him what the nun was asking for him in Blackfoot. Before she even realized what was happening the nun stripped her naked in front of her classmates and began to beat her with a rod. She was only six years old. Another time she saw a little boy get sick from his tapioca pudding and the nuns made him eat his own vomit.
American society likes to paint a picture of Native Americans in the past or stereotype them as good for nothing drunken savages. No one ever questions why more than 80% of our girls on the reservation have been sexually abused and have the highest suicide rate out of every culture. No, they would rather leave this part of American history out of our history books and let the Indians deal with their own problems. They are sovereign nation after all. The abuse generations of Indian children experienced while attending boarding school motivated me to initiate change and to inspire courage to my people in hopes of rekindling their spirits! After hearing the horror stories from my ex-wife Martha Many Grey Horses I made it a mission to see justice brought to all the Native children that suffered from these boarding schools. In the beginning many individuals including certain tribal members were very against me bringing light to this issue but when the call of truth is spoken so is the cry of denial. And after all those years fighting with tribal figures and the government of Canada the government finally made an official apology and gave a small amount of reparation that came no where close to paying them back for all the years of abuse those poor children faced.
Sometime after my grandmother past away from tuburculosis, my grandfather Fred Lane, an English man, who came to live with the Dakotas, passed away from a bad heart and alcoholism, leaving my father orphaned at the age of eleven. For the next few years before he left for boarding school he lived with my great-grandfather Philip Deloria, a priest and a holy man. It was at this time my father heard and received many beautiful stories. Grandpa Philip Deloria and cousins Ella and Vine passed on our family values and heritage. It is these stories my father shared with me at bedtime as he prepared me for my own destiny.
At the age of seven we moved into a old farmhouse a few miles outside of Walla Walla, Washington. We did not have much money. When I first arrived at school, I felt out of date and a need to destroy the negative stereotype of the “lone indian and the street chief image” that often polluted the minds of mainstream America. One way I found to take out my aggression and prove Natives could do more than be "lazy drunks" was through sports. In fact in eight grade I went from third string junior varsity to starting fullback on varsity after my father told me a story of how Haskell inmates mutilated those cruel guards who treated them as if they were scums with hatred, racism and unfairness. Who was the real hero? Once I was on the field, it was as though a spark had been ignited inside me, and it was my responsibility to stand up for them. I became an animal and did everything I could to get that ball across the field. It was as though my whole life depended upon it. When I was not playing football I was wrestling and setting records in the Pole Vault. I wanted to win at least one more war for my people and I sure did!
Although my mother and father are two of the most beautiful and amazing people I have ever met in my life, the intergeneration trauma they received was evident in their actions. My father's strict behavior and militant attitude installed my sense of fear of failure and never to show anyone my weakness. When I was eight years old a group of boys hiked up to an abandoned barn that was haunted even though we heard the warning, “anyone who stepped foot in that barn after dark would forever be condemned to the darkside of life.” The following morning at breakfast I proudly announced my newfound knowledge about the abandoned barn. I soon realized I made a very bad mistake because my father would not allow his only son to be afraid of such things. “Son we’re going to go up there tonight and face your fear,” he stated bluntly. All day long my heart beat with anticipation as every deep dark fear in my body arose playing out scenes of my worst nightmares. I wanted to cry but the fear of shaming my father overpowered my fear of the haunted barn. Once it got dark outside, my father without a word nodded his head towards the door signaling to me it was time to face my fear. Each step I took forward I lost every ounce of control for what I was about to face. He ordered me, “I want you to go in there and walk all the way to the back and stand there until I tell you to come back. Hurry up!'” I thought I was going to pass out. My heart beat so damn fast but I kept my wit and made it all the way to the back. With eyes closed shut, my mind became uncontrollably aware of every sound around me. Every once in a while I would open my eyes to see if the devil, himself, was ready to steal my soul; only to be greeted by iktomi (a spider and more importantly the Dakota trickster) dangling from his spider web, and more than likely amused by my trembles. Finally, after what felt like a million years, he called and told me to come back. I slowly paced myself not to appear anxious. I was a brave warrior like my great grandfather Tipisapa. Once I got back he looked at me for a long time and then put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, "Son, don't ever be afraid of your fears, no matter how real they are, they are floating anxieties and not reality.”
To grow spiritually, every human being is challenged with test and difficulties. I experienced one of my greatest tests at the age of 12 when an older boy whom I came to trust and look up to got me belligerently drunk for the first time and brutally raped me. I was too hurt and ashamed to show my pain and instead buried it deep inside my soul. I became tough as nails ready to fight anyone and everyone that stood in my way. I would not stop until I was the last one standing. I handed in my trust, patience and kindness for drinking, womanizing and partying. I just could not deal with the pain I felt inside and wanted any kind of escape even if it was only temporary. It wasn’t until many years later that I was finally able to deal with my rape through ceremony and prayer. I also think it was this experience that gave me the driving force to stand up for the thousands of victims that were abused in boarding school.
Storytelling for our Dakota people is our greatest tool in passing on the lessons of life and would be repeated over and over until each child could repeat the story back to their Tunkashia. My father spent many winter times with his Lala (grandfather) Vine Deloria Sr. who always had a guest over – for Indian visits could last up to two or three months. My father loved to hear the different stories the two old Lala's shared back and forth. He would sit beside their rocking chairs close to the warm fireplace. As the rocking chairs swayed syncronistically back and forth, the elders brought to life the days of long ago before alcohol infected our people's spirit like a deadly virus eating away at their soul. In our Dakota language the old Lalas recounted stories of Crazy Horse and other Plain Indian tribal relatives who defeated the seventh cavalry that was prophesized by the holy people. Many Indigenous languages including our Dakota language emerged out of the affective domain of human learning, thus they are descriptive languages using words, murmurs, sounds and symbols that take you along in mind, emotion and spirit on an adventurous journey allowing you to experience it. During those winters, my father became very fond of his Aunt – Ella Deloria - who was gathering research on our Dakota people, more specifically our highly efficient kinship system and traditional way of life for her teacher. Professor Franz Boaz, whom she studied under, at Columbia University in the Anthropology Department. In her time, she was truly a revolutionary woman – an incredible woman who was not afraid to speak her mind or put up with anyone flaunting their ignorance despite their class, race, or gender! In fact, while attending Columbia University, it was Aunt Ella's charisma and renaissance attitude that had her initiated into New York's high-class society. She would dazzle her fellow classmates with her humor and warmth. Little did they know she had to take ice cold showers at the YWCA every other day because she was too poor to afford her own place. Instead she lived in her T-bird that she bargained from an Unchi (grandmother) on the Rosebud reservation for $15 and five star blankets. Anyway, on a summer day that my father will never forget, a very tall awkward Washitu man who came for an Indian visit. My father said he had a very different way of telling stories. As hard as my father tried to get into his stories they just weren’t the same stories his Lala or Unchi told and retold. This strange talking white man, the famous Franz Boaz was fascinated with our stomping grounds! As a young lad, my father would get two gigantic pillows, placed them on the driver's seat of the vehicle, then propped himself upon them, lifting his chin as high as he could, using every face muscle possible to see over the gigantic black steering wheel as he drove his Lala and Boas to the stomping grounds. Lala, the reverent Phillip Deloria had no problem with his young grandson chauffeuring him around the reservation! Furthermore, my father drove his Lala and his Aunt Ella all around Standing Rock Reservation over the hills and back again. My father recalled his feelings of frustration because he could not understand what Franz Boas was talking about due to his thick accent. He had never encountered this foreign accent, so instead he recalled focusing his attention on the Black Hills and feeling great to be home away from Haskell. In those days, my father, Phil Lane Sr. heard stories upon stories, very carefully recited, expressed by the gentle patience and sweetness of an Unchi who weighed no more than 100 pounds, but had the spirit of a hundred horses or the synchronicity and beat of a mile long herd of 10,000 buffalos - our distance ancestor where we once came from. As I grew older, sometimes I would find my father half asleep, snoring, covered with his Pendleton blanket, and somehow listening to Johnny Cash. He would be holding a pen with piece of paper nearby. Often he wrote to his many relatives and friends from all places of Indian Country and always he sent a Christmas card to every single relative and friend – this was his commitment!
By the time I turned seventeen, I had fine-tuned my physical, academic and debating abilities. I loved to read, especially stories about the underdog rising to the top. I became so obsessed and amused by the underdog coming out on top that I called upon Iktomi (trickster) to help me play a little joke on the ignorant narrow-minded community of Walla Walla where Anglos were the majority and Mexicans the minority. I deviously concocted a sure fire plan to get Jose Rigo nominated for Student Body President. My plan included flyers, pins, shirts and press releases sent out over the intercom during homeroom. I persuaded a few certain individuals to cause the domino effect in winning Jose Rigo's vote. Everything was in place until the nominators were asked to rehearse their speech. It was at this point, Iktomi played a trick on me! Jose Rigo was nowhere to be found! Iktomi played a trick on me!
After raising hell at Walla Walla High School, my buddy, Michael Freeman and I packed up our bags, we kissed out mothers goodbye, and raced down our gravel driveway that I had so many times before imagined – the exact moment when we would venture out into the real world and unleashed ourselves into life's mysteries. We saved our money we earned during the summer picking onions for ten hours a day. Before we knew it we landed in Philadelphia, all Afro Americans...chef...dinner...drinking.... hooked up with some sistas – tootita. We had hitch hiked from Walla Walla, Washington to New York City in seven days which was pretty damn fast considering that one night in Chicago where we ventured into the nightlife of my African American brothers, only to accidentally be picked up by two high class hookers who could smell fresh fish a mile away. There we were, two eighteen year old boys from Walla Walla, Washington, one Indian boy and one Jewish boy in a jazz bar on the black side of Chicago away from home for the very first time in our lives with over 1200 dollars in our pockets. The thought of getting robbed by these two beautiful women was the furthest thought from my head. About two hours and ten shots of whiskey later we had unsuccessfully made it half way down the block, dirty from falling over so many times when two brothers stopped the girls. From what I can remember took place, they took our asses back to their spot to let us sober up. Yep, better believe it! If it weren’t for those guys we would have never made it to New York let alone Europe.
Once in New York we hitched a ride on a Frat Boat that traded a ride for work. We happily agreed and one week later we arrived in Burmerhaven, Germany. Our first stop was the youth hall where we could ditch our bags and explore this new world we had entered into. Well I didn’t really explore the world parse but I did meet a very nice German girl who in a way became my new world. I had a few girlfriends while I was in high school but I had never just gone out and picked a girl up so this was a very new and exciting novelty I had stumbled across. Time meant nothing to me in this beautiful girl’s presence and before I knew it her and I were the only ones left in the small pub that had been packed earlier on in the night. I had given Mike a secret nod, which meant get the hell out of here so I could really dazzle this girl. Although, I didn’t really dazzle the girl I thought I had done really well for my first night in Europe and as the gentleman I had been raised to be I insisted on walking this young dame home. As we walked for what seemed forever I began to get a little nervous because the youth hall had a twelve o’clock curfew and by the time I had finally given her my big kiss good-bye it was already 12:09 AM. As I made my way up to the front of the youth hall I was a bit concerned that the lights were turned off and as I went to open the door it wouldn’t budge. Now there is no way this youth hostile really enforces a twelve o’clock curfew on the residents I thought. I mean I was eighteen years old what more could they ask for. I banged on the door for about twenty minutes and realized that if I was going to get into the youth hostile I would have to find another way in. So there I was a young Indian boy from Walla Walla, Washington planning my big extravagant break in. I walked all around the youth hall and just as I was about to give up I saw a window open that was about twenty feet from the ground. Luckily there was a great big Oak tree right next to the open window and before I knew it, I had to shimmy up the tree and get one leg in the window. As I dangled from the tree my father’s famous saying came to me, “I was born wild, I am going to die wild.” With this thought I used all my energy to get my other leg in the window but wait, where was I suppose to put my feet. It was too far of a jump down but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet after all that hard work I had put myself through to get to where I was. Instead I decided I would simply hold onto the traps and let myself down easily. It all seemed perfect until my other leg came through the window and it was obvious the traps would not be able to hold me. For one second before the traps gave out I felt like I was floating in air but this ended two seconds later when I crashed onto the floor, traps and all. To make matters even worse I had landed in one of the nun’s room and she was far from pleased to see me. In fact she was so horrified by my dramatic entrance that she forced me out the door without even letting me collect my belongings. I had to go stay at a motel that night and it was the last time I ever stayed in a Youth Hall. Our next train stop was Copenhagen, where I did the twist, partied and carried on. I was quite the Suavé. Danced all night and day. Then we jumped on a train and headed non-stop to Munich. I met an elder German man on the train who had fought during World War II. He began to ask me question after question about American Indians. I recited the many stories my father had primed me to say and the man began to cry. It was the first time in my entire life I had ever witnessed a man cry. As he continued to cry I realized these stories were of great importance and sometime in the future they would eventually help me. Little did he know his teardrops were spiritual powers that inspired my soul. Once we arrived in Germany, Mike and I grew very fond of Beer Halls and found ourselves at home in Martazer’s Beerhouse. It was suppose to be this great place where a lot of Nazi activity occurred in the previous five years. At any rate, there was a group of Germans to my left and I couldn't believe my eyes as I watched two 12 year olds drinking beer. Mike gave me a switchblade knife as a Veteran of Foreign Affairs entered flaunting his uniform of blood. I looked at him with absolute disgust and he rudely invited himself to sit with us thinking we shared something in common because we were from the same country. I didn't want anything to do with him. I tried to distance myself but it was too late the group of rowdy Germans had already associated us with this arrogant American. Then as we were leaving the eight Germans threw me down a flight of stairs rushed me and I thought its better to leave and fight another day than to foolishly end my life today. So I started running, but once I realized I couldn't out run them I spun around and grabbed my brand new switchblade. I flipped it out and began gushing blood. Somehow I had managed to slash myself. I had just seen Dacha the day before and so when we arrived at the Munich Police Station I had an idea and plan to get us out of this mess without getting deported. I began to describe to them about what had taken place at Dacha and began shaming them for what they had done to “my ancestors”. Soon they became alarmed about the negative publicity they may receive if this incident was leaked to the press. The head officer came and talked to us. He explained in a very apologetic manner that his fellow German police officers had no idea what was going on in the concentration camp. Subsequently we came before the judge who immediately began apologizing and asking if we would like to press charges on the German guys and without another word gave me back my switchblade. After my dear friend Michael Freeman returned home due to his parents’ fear of war over the Cuban Missile Crisis, I took a train to Berlin from Munich. In the process of going to West Berlin I had to go through military stops. All of a sudden I found myself in front of Chuck Point Charlie, they checked me out and I took the address to the Russian Embassy and without thinking rang the bell. Someone said something in a unfamiliar language. I began to say hello and said “I want to talk to someone.” After a long pause, a deep loud voice asked me "Who is this?" Startled and caught off guard I yelled back "This is Phil from Walla Walla!" I couldn't believe I had just said that! I was even more surprised to be greeted by a gentleman who spoke absolutely perfect English. There was absolutely no way I could have known he spoke fluent English by the tone and accent of his voice – it was shocking! For the next three hours we discussed the issues of Cuba and his views of Castro. He discussed the illiteracy rate and how Castro was going to change this. In life there are many different perspectives and sides to all of the intricacies and dimension of the dynamics and aspects to life. As he continued to explain the conditions of the Cuban people, I couldn’t help but think of my own Native American ancestors who had also been exploited and oppressed by the American government. We shared back and forth about different ideas of life in this world. He gave me three books as I departed. He walked me outside to where a cab awaited ready to bring me to a German beer hall where I would later manage to lose my books somewhere in East Germany between the Germans’ rotten teeth and the taxi drive to Chuck Point Charlie. After my many adventures I realized I needed to get the hell out of there. I got back to Chuck Point Charlie. I was feeling really good – on top of the world. I decided to celebrate by hurdling the stop post to where I was happily greeted by angry and shocked Germans who continued to strip search me. So that was my big trip to Europe where I really explored myself as a young man of 18. I have many other wild and crazy stories that lead me up to my old age but to keep things flowing let me share one story that has forever guided me through both the dark and light times in life. This is the story that always reminded me of where I came from and where I am going.
Ever since I was a young boy I remember my grandfather Vine Deloria Sr. recounting the fulfillment of the sacred prophecy and gift of the taking of the White Buffalo. The story goes, Owl Man, my great grandfather was the head chief of the White Swan Dakotas and he represented the chiefs of the eight Yankton’s bands at the White House in Washington D.C., where he negotiated the Treaty of 1885 on behalf of the White Swan people and other Yankton bands. As head of the holy man society, he was well recognized throughout his life as a man of great spiritual gifts. I remember so well the powerful stories shared to me by my grandfather Vine Deloria and my father about Owl Man and his preparation of the rider Brown Bear, and the horse he rode, and how together they fulfilled the sacred prophecy of the taking of the White Buffalo. A true White Buffalo is completely albino, pink hoofs, pink nose, pink tongue, and pink eyes. It is extremely rare to see a White Buffalo. Sometimes this kind of buffalo would never be seen for 80 years or never during a lifetime. The buffaloes organized themselves in a kinship system that was/is admired and respected by their two legged Dakotas relatives. The oldest bulls occupied the outside of the herd. They were the first to give up or sacrifice their lives in order to protect the future generations. Next in the order are/were the younger bulls, followed by the women (female) buffaloes until finally the smallest, the most vulnerable and the most precious buffaloes of the herd were kept safely in the center. So, so sweet and precious! On the rare occasion that a true White Buffalo Calf was born they would be naturally protected because as albinos among other things they where unable to see very well. For this reason the White Buffalo Calf was/is always reside(d) in the center of the herd. The White Buffalo Calf was/is protected that so no one ever could imagine getting close enough to sly one. Among the White Swan people of the Dakota Nation, there was a prophecy passed down from generation to generation that spoke of an encounter of a young warrior and the white buffalo. It was told through the spiritual support and powers of his ancestors and elders, the young man would ride to the center of the buffalo heard and sly the white buffalo. This prophecy of the White Swan Dakotas was a direct reflection of other tribal prophecies. This prophecy believed that a young Dakota warrior would sly the White Buffalo before the coming of a long spiritual wintertime. Those relatives, or descendents, of this warrior who were able to remember their relationship to the White Buffalo no matter how small that in the future would become leaders in building a new world on mother earth. What a powerful vision and responsibility!
Owl Man had a special bay horse. He would not allow any person to ride his horse. Everyone in the camp knew there was something special about his bay horse. Respecting tribal protocol, they never asked Owl Man about his horse. People knew eventually in time things would be revealed. Long before remembering numerical years, three Dakota bands camped together in the spring to hunt the southern herd of buffalo that was about to arrive. The oldest chief of the three bands was named, Struck By The Ree. To make their first spring hunt, the three bands came together. They sent out a scout society to determine the exact location of the southern herd of the buffalo that had just arrived in their long journey northward. In those days, these scouts developed physical gift of tracking under the tutelage and guidance of seasoned elders with spiritual powers including being powers of determining the location of the buffaloes, their brothers in the spirit world. The scouts followed the directions of the elders and found the buffalo herd. Everyone in camp was excited and celebrated the findings of this group of scouts. After the celebration each of ten different warrior societies gathered all their warriors together to get ready for the hunt. Traditionally, the younger men would hunt on the outskirts of the buffalo herd for stragglers. To ride into the buffalo herd demanded no less than a stalwart and strapping buffalo horse – a horse with no fear. The rider must also have great experience. In the olden days the size of the average buffalo was tremendous because it had the ability to roam wherever it pleased and had the proper and plentiful nourishment it needed to grow big and strong. According to my father and other elders when a buffalo herd began to run as pursued by hunters – the earth would literally shake. Behold, what an experience!
When the scouts arrived with the news of the southern herd, Brown Bear, the spiritual son and student of Owl Man, asked Owl Man if he could ride his Bay Horse in the spring hunt. Owl Man graciously told Brown Bear that he could ride his Bay Horse in the hunt but cautioned him to treat the Bay Horse gently. Others in the camp were curious why Owl Man would allow Brown Bear to ride his Bay Horse. However, they withheld their questions for they knew the answers would be revealed in time. Following the guidance of the scouts, three hundred Yankton riders arrived at the top of a small hill over looking a huge herd of buffalo heading north. This herd was a mile long and a mile wide and runners said it felt like thunder. Just as they were about to attack the herd, a scout yelled, "Look, there’s a great big White Buffalo bull right in the center." Without the sounds and murmurs of sounds, immediately the scouts remembered the prophecy of the appearance of the White Buffalo – they surged forward. The protocols of warriors’ societies did not matter anymore. Instead, the primary goal of all the three hundred warriors was to sly the White Buffalo so the people would have the hope of living through the long wintertime – a fulfillment of the long awaited prophecy. One by one the warriors fell back in their pursuit of the White Buffalo. Finally, there was only two riders left on this pursuit, one rider on a black horse and brown bear on the bay horse.
At this point, my father always told this part of the story in a special way. As the black and bay horses and their riders grew closer to the White Buffalo, the black horse began to bleed from his nose. Pausing and glancing at me to emphasize the point, grandfather reminded me that the rider of the black horse, in his love and mercy, pulled back the black horse from the chase so he would not be harmed. His message was very clear. If in our pursuit for the vision of our life we hurt others, then we are not walking the spiritual path. Instead of continuing on, the rider of the black horse pulled his horse back and yelled to Brown Bear "Go on with him, go on with him." For he realized the honor of one is the honor of all. With the last bit of strength Brown Bear had, he nudged the Bay Horse with his heels. Horse and rider became one. Brown Bear pulled up beside the White Buffalo. Creator had prepared him perfectly for the fulfillment of the prophecy. In order to kill a buffalo with one arrow, your arrow would have to pentatrate through the buffalo’s rib cage and strike him directly through the heart. With a big bull buffalo running full speed, you not only have to have strength but dexterity to get him - for the arrow will have to penetrate through the ribs and through the heart at the precise second when the buffalo stretches his arms forward. The final quality that a warrior would have to have in order to kill a buffalo by himself with one arrow would be that he would have to be “left handed.” Only in this manner could the rider shoot his arrow on the heart side of the buffalo with full strength. With all his strength, Brown Bear pulled back the arrow and synchronized his flow with the running White Buffalo and let go of his arrow, which pulsated into his heart. His arrow went straight to its mark and penetrated the heart of the White Bull Buffalo. As he fell Brown Bear cried out, "I've got him, I've got him."
In a short time all three hundred riders encircled the White Buffalo, special smudge and prayers were offered. Sage was placed in the buffalo’s nose, ears and mouth. The hunters rolled the White Buffalo onto a sage covered cotton wood frame that allowed the buffalo to be picked up and carried between four horses and riders. As prayers and songs were offered, the warriors wept in a sad thanksgiving for being able to be a part of the fulfillment of a prophecy that they knew would be remembered through the great spiritual winter time. A memory that would give strength and hope to all those relatives who would hang onto it in times of great tests and difficulties. It was foretold from this lineage would emerge relatives who would join with other families with similar prophecies and help create a new world. Along with the prayers and songs each warrior wept in honor of their most sacred brother who gave his life so that future generations could survive the great spiritual wintertime. They stopped four times before entering camp. In the last part of the journey all of the woman came out from the camp thrilled as the White Buffalo completed his journey into camp. That night there was a great ceremony. After filling themselves with the blessing of the White Buffalo, turnips and dried corn, Struck By the Ree made his way to the center of the circle. Everyone became silent. Everyone wanted to understand the mysterious of the taking of the White Buffalo. First, Struck by the Ree asked, "Who was the man that took the White Buffalo?" and Brown Bear stepped forward. There, they took time to bless him in the four directions and publicly enshrine the memory of what had occurred in the mind of the people so it might live on forever as predicted by the prophecy. After honoring Brown Bear, while he lead the Bay Horse to the center of the circle, Struck By The Ree asked "And who was the horse that carried Brown Bear so that he may sly the White Buffalo?" Owl Man had braided eagle feathers into the Bay Horse’s mane and tail. The signs of thunder, lightening and rain were painted on his heartside. When Owl Man stopped in the center of the circle, Struck By The Ree asked, "What his name?" Owl Man replied, "Guess?" Owl Man then took out a very large necklace of eagle claws from a buffalo bag and put it over the neck of the bay. Struck By The Ree explained, "His name is Eagle Claws." "Yes, Eagle Claws, that's his name," said Owl Man.
Those relatives who were touched by the slaying of the White Buffalo would, not only have the honor but also the responsibility of leading the people through this spiritual wintertime to the springtime - a new kind of springtime. At sixty-two winters, this prophecy has carried me through thick and thin. I have faith, this responsibility and destiny, will continue long after I have spiritually left Mother Earth. Most importantly, it will be my daughter Deloria Many Grey Horses (Ampaowin) who will continue to fulfill this great destiny.
Indigenous peoples throughout the western hemisphere share, in various forms a related prophecy of the coming of a great spiritual wintertime that would last for 500 years when every kind of conceivable force was, and continues to be, utilized by the U.S. and the Canadian governments; and when mainstream churches would, and did, make attempts to completely destroy any vestige of an identity as a tribal-indigenous person. The political economic and religious forces that completely dominated the Americas during this long wintertime used, and continuously use, pure terror and fear tactics. These tactics have not really changed that much from some of the things that are currently being done in Iraq or Afghanistan – the path of continuing war and terror is clear. Nevertheless, somewhere in the mists of the stories of the White Swan Dakotas was the sacred prophecy of the great spiritual wintertime when the White Swan Dakotas would almost be completely destroyed. But, only if a handful of them held on to the sacred prophecy of the taking of the White Buffalo – that - in time from these lineages – they would contributed not only to the love of the White Swan Dakotas but to all walks of humanity. My Uncle Vine Deloria Jr. shares a bit of these stories in Crying for a Vision.
Indeed, all my relations!