Greetings from the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation organization in Pahin Sinte (Porcupine), SD! It is beautiful and green in the buffalo pasture and the sight of buffalo keeping a close eye on their new calves brings to mind the teaching to always look out for our young. As a volunteer organization, our goals include preserving and implementing the teachings from the buffalo nation so that our children and future generations will always have a connection to our relatives the buffalo. This is an update on our activities in the past couple of months and a forecast of our future activities.
On April 7, 2012, we co-sponsored an event, Sunkawakan Ta Woonspe (Teachings from the Horse Nation) which was held at the Knife Chief Buffalo Pasture on April 7, 2012. This was a healing event designed to connect and reconnect the community with the healing powers of the horse nation. We began the event with a Wocekiye (opening blessing) by our esteemed Spiritual Leader, Hmuya Mani (Walking with a Roaring – Richard Two Dogs) and a presentation on the sacredness of horses with an emphasis on our relationship with them as relatives. Historically, horses were and still are used for healing based on the belief that that they are a mirror ourselves as the humans or two-legged. Also, Lakota people believe that they can take physical and mental and emotional illness from us as humans.
After the presentation, a naming ceremony was held for one of the horses who carried the spirit of our great Warrior and Spiritual Leader, Tunkasila Tasunke Witko (Grandfather Crazy Horse) during the Crazy Horse Ride that happens every June in Pine Ridge, SD, to honor his leadership, and great feats in the battles and wars to protect his people and fight for their rights. The horse was covered with a beautiful star quilt as part of the naming ceremony.
Natan Hinapa (Comes Charging, Bamm Brewer), who is an organizer for the Crazy Horse Ride recounted how knowing that the spirit of Grandfather Crazy Horse rides with them every year has strengthened the riders and how it has impacted him spiritually. Natan Hinapa presented a beautiful horse mask to Hmuya Mani as a gift, the mask was worn by one of Natan Hinapa’s horses in the Crazy Horse Ride and also in the Sunkawakan Ta Woonspe event (see photo 1).
Oglala Hanska (Percy White Plume), of the Wacinhin Ska Tiospaye (White Plume Family) and Nata Hinapa brought their horses to bless the people. The people gathered in a circle and the horses were led in while the drum group sang songs in their honor. While the horses were led around the inside of the circle of people, everyone raised their hands to receive the blessings from them (see photo). There were about 75 people present and it was a beautiful day in the Knife Chief Buffalo pasture. The event ended with a great meal, buffalo soup that was cooked by one of our great outdoor chefs – Anthony Bush of Porcupine, SD, an Elder and Vietnam Veteran. Many other people donated food and supplies for the meal, great thanks to all of them. Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye (Medicine Horse Society) assisted with securing donations for the portable out houses, which were a necessity given the remoteness of the Knife Chief Buffalo Pasture (several miles out in the beautiful rolling hills east of Porcupine, SD).
Mahpiya Maza (Iron Cloud), one of our Buffalo caretakers, secured and hauled posts that will be used for the hay yard and sorting pen for the buffalo. He was assisted by relative and community member, William Locke. This project will continue as we move toward gathering resources to fence the additional acreage leased by Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization.
We are in the process of preparing two young men for a Wanasa Pi (buffalo hunt) which is the traditional Lakota way to mark the rite of passage into manhood. The young men go through four days of purification in the Inipi (purification lodge); commonly known as the Sweat lodge. As in all important ceremonies, a four day purification process is observed. Offerings are made to the spiritual entities for a successful hunt, to ask forgiveness for taking the buffalo’s life and to make a connection with the spirit of the buffalo so that the people will receive nourishment, both physically and spiritually. During the four day preparation period, the young men are given guidance by the older men and through spiritual guidance, the importance of the Wanasa Pi ceremony is stressed and teachings on the role of the Lakota man are also provided. The ceremony will be held at the Knife Chief Buffalo Pasture on May 18, 2012.
We are also preparing for our two annual Sundance ceremonies, one of which is held at the Knife Chief Buffalo pasture. Two years ago, at sunrise on the first day of the Sundance ceremony, the buffalo came to the top of the hill on the east side as the Sundancers were making their prayers to the east and gave them a blessing. We hope to be blessed by them again at this year’s Sundance ceremony.
Knife Chief Buffalo Nation organization is also co-sponsoring a Wakanyeja Wicoti (children’s camp) that will be held the week of July 16-20, 2012 in Porcupine, SD. This camp will focus on the needs of Lakota children who have experienced grief, loss and trauma. We are in the process of securing additional sponsorship and partnerships to assist with this much needed camp. There are people that have committed to volunteering their time at this camp and we have received word that a most generous person is assisting with securing camp supplies. The people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have a very high death rate from illness and accidents and many families are under severe stress from this as well as from living in poverty and/or living with violence and/or addiction. These stressors can cause children to have needs related to grief, loss and trauma and this camp is one small effort that Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization can help with to address some of the needs of our Wakanyeja – a Lakota term for “sacred beings”.
Thank you for your support of the Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) and we look forward to sharing future updates with you all. For more information about anything in this article, contact Ethleen, [email protected]. Lila Pila Unyapi Ye (We thank you very much).