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Promise kept

It has almost been a year since my Uncle Harvey Whitewoman passed on to the spirit world and a promise that I have sworn will resonate throughout Indian country still needs to be spoken.

His message was “never forget who you are, fight for what you believe, and protect what is yours.” He was a modern-day warrior who kept his treaties sacred and made sure that the American government never forgot its promise. I never knew how much he meant to the Lakota people until his death, and that, to me, fills every hole within my heart. He was a good man, friend and advocate to all who knew him. What he instilled in me was the passion to carry my people and never forget what our ancestors did to get us to this point.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, he went out and sought help, not for himself but for all those on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who had the same illness. He wanted to let them know they did not have to suffer alone. He was a man who never thought of himself first. His people were always first.

My friends across Indian country, my uncle was a selfless man who died with a message, not to me, but to all Native Americans: “stay strong.” We must stay strong so that our race will live forever. Don’t settle for the status quo. We must look beyond enemy lines and end old rivalries to begin looking for a prosperous future for Indian country. In the words of my uncle, “stay strong,” we’re almost there and we will make it together.

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– Sidney Fox

Northern Cheyenne Nation

Ashland, Mont.