American Indian Millennium Series


Mitakuyepi (My relatives),

Chante Wasteya Nape Ciyuzapelo (I hold your hands with a good heart): Seven generations ago our forefathers and foremothers made many decisions and many sacrifices that have allowed us, the current seven generations, to survive. This is what has allowed me to write to you today and it is with them, us and you in mind that I write this because we are all one within one and it is you, us, them that are at the center of our nation. It is from that center (Hochokan) that we voice our prayers, because every footstep we take is a prayer for the seven generations ago and seven generations to come.

First of all I want to thank our forefathers and foremothers of seven generations ago for looking out for me, and the seventh generation of today. If it were not for you and your foresight, sacrifice, bravery and wisdom, I would have never been here today.

In the old days our forefathers had to communicate with the wasicus (white man) through interpreters, but today we are our own interpreters. Our language is still alive today but not as it once was. It is very sad day because a very few of our children are still speaking Lakota. The fewer that speak mean that it will be a very lonely time for those few that still speak Lakota. My prayers are with those who are still speaking Lakota and those who want to learn. It is they who can save the language which will save our people. Our language is the very core of our energy. The Lakota Language is integral to the survival of our people. Language is culture, and language is life. We communicate in Lakota to our deceased relatives, to the plant medicines, to the two- and four-legged, to the winged and Wakantanka (Great Spirit). How will we communicate to the powers of the Universe if we no longer speak our language? They will not understand us. If we stop communicating to each other in Lakota then we also stop communicating to the spirit world. They will not be able to listen to us because we have stopped communicating to them, and they will stop helping us.

I often wondered how our people have endured and survived many hardships up until this point in our history. Then I realized what it was that helped our forefathers to bring us to this place of survival. It is the Chanupa ways. The seven ceremonies of the Lakota are also part of the Language which is as important to us as the water of life is.

There was a reason the White Buffalo Calf Woman brought us these ways. The people prayed for help and Wakantanka answered in that way. Then it is that way, if you are Lakota and you are given the gift of life. If you do not take it in then you are only hurting the next seven generations. If you are not speaking Lakota to your children then you are only hurting the next seven generations. If you do not speak Lakota then you are killing our way of life and our people. So if you think about it you will realize how our forefathers survived in the past.

So long as our culture and language survives there will be a time coming when our people will live in prosperity and freedom, and there are yet to be many deeds to be told around the camp-fires. There will be stories of great leaders in our times as there were in earlier times and as there will be in your times, the next seven generations. Our people's future is not hopeless because we are the keepers of mother earth. We do not own mother earth but as the grass grows and the water flows we too will live!

Our forefathers have withstood the literal violent attacks of the U.S. Federal Government in its attempt to exterminate us. You must always remember our relatives whose cries of pain and suffering fell upon the frozen grounds during the massacre of our people at Wounded Knee in 1890. Try to imagine being there in your mind because you were there in blood and flesh as we were mowed down like our relatives the buffalo, who were literally killed in attempt to starve us. All of these and more atrocities of human kind were done by the U.S. Government.

It will be ironic that the future atrocities of Lakota will be done to our own people by our own people, because we did not remember our forefathers and foremothers with the Language and the Seven Rites. If our language dies it will be because we did not honor our forefathers and foremothers who have passed down our language culture to us. In essence we will have turned our backs on the past seven generations and the future seven generations.

? Phil Two Eagle, Sicangu Lakota

Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation

Rosebud, South Dakota