Lakota Woman (response paper) Chara D.

Hoskins 9/17/07 INCS 331 Note: I did not finish reading the entire book. I got through Ch. 13 (at least part of it). It was very hard for me to get through this book. It was hard to see what people have done in the name of so-called “Christianization” and “whitemanizing.” I could not believe how fellow human beings were equated with animals. Their culture and their homeland were forcefully stripped away from them on the basis of their ethnicity. When these things were taken from them, some of them gave into senseless things in order to ease the pain. The author does a very good job of describing these events with images and humor throughout the book. The first thing that the author says about being surrounded by an “alien, more powerful culture (5)” is: “If you plan to be born, make sure you are born white and male (4).” This is because she and the other female Native Americans around her were raped and beaten so many times for being “Injuns.” She was hated because of how she looked when she was born. I would want to change what I looked like too if that were the case for me. I am amazed at how she continued to progress in her life without turning into an “apple” that is white on the outside and red on the inside (borrowed metaphor from the book). Before the men around her had their dignity taken away, they were “generous and wise.” They gave into senseless fighting, drinking, and drugs when the familiar things were no more. They no longer killed innocent animals with bows and arrows. They harmed each other in order to get their so-called honor, because they could no longer attain it in the traditional manner. They also left their beliefs behind because they were labeled as mere superstitions by “the white man.” Unlike Mary, they became a mixture of red and white. They wanted to have their Native American culture and beliefs, but they could not have them according to the overpowering white culture, so they threw in the towel and lost all self-respect. It would take a very long road for them to recover from such a thing, as it would for all human beings. Amidst the majority of the tribes losing their culture and their traditions, the Crow Dogs held onto theirs. They had the guts to “keep the flame alive” through “courage and suffering (10).” The author realizes that she and the other tribes cannot simply sit on their accomplishments. They must set out to “make [their] own legends (11).” When I read this, I was amazed that she could think about going out and making legends at such a time in her life. She and her people were being treated like dirt, but she knew they must not equate themselves with dirt. She was able to see this even as the bodies and souls of her people were being destroyed “bit by bit” (15). Before Mary went to boarding school, she did not even experience this hatred at all. She lived a simple life in He-Dog. She appreciated the fact that she did not have a TV, because she recognized that it brainwashes people and makes them forget where they came from. She did not see herself as being poor, because she had no visible riches to

compare her life to. People only become discontent with what they have when one culture tries to make the simple life of another culture complicated. She had “food, love, a place to sleep (27),” etc. She did not know that how the white men would treat her and her people would make her have a longing for deeper things: respect, courage, food, safety, etc. When Mary and other Native Americans went to the St. Francis boarding school they truly experienced the “whitemanizing” and racism. All of them were beaten horribly for the smallest offenses. Sexual molestation was common. They would be put into isolation for the smallest misdeeds. They were told that they could not look like Native Americans, practice their beliefs, or be generous. All of these things were done in the name of “civilizing” these people through a form of “ethnic cleansing.” I am glad we serve a patient God, because these deeds were simply horrible. The ideas of The Red Panther when Mary was at boarding school and the many revolutions done at Washington D.C., Custer, and Wounded Knee demonstrated the courage and perseverance of these people. They continued to fight no matter how unjustly they were treated in boarding school or in public society. Their souls felt back into a corner at times, but they did not allow their culture to be put in that position. They revived the Ghost Dances, the Sun Dance ritual, etc. They were willing to die in order to defend where they came from and their land. Like Mary says on pg. 105, “A faith you have suffered for becomes more precious.” A key part of the Native Americans defending themselves in the different cities was through forming a unity among many tribes. This occurred through organizations like AIM. They saw their overall identity as being the main important thing. The old and they young were equally valued, though the “old folks” were seen as the ones who had “spirit and wisdom” to give to the rest of the people (79). I appreciated how they shared their different customs with each other in this unity. They even dialogued with AfricanAmericans about their struggles with racism at one point. I loved how, when one of them was injured, the whole “body” of them hurt. I wish the Christian church today could mirror this kind of unity. Even though they strived for unity, they still struggled with prejudices at times against other tribes. For example, Mary admits that she had a “typical Sioux prejudice” against all of the “southern tribes (105).” She knows she is a human being and admits her faults. However, not longer after she meets these tribes, she realizes that they had a special strength which her people lacked. This attitude of learning and observation about those around them helped her people overcome great obstacles together. Also, when people had difficulties within their tribes about accepting “outsiders,” they would talk these struggles out (just as Leonard did for Mary). In conclusion, the past of the Native American Indians in our country was a very difficult one. There was a constant battle against the white man that had a faith solely in “naked power, numbers, and paragraphs (141).” There were times when the people lost their hope that a better time would come, but they did not let their “hearts be on the floor” and pressed on in order to defend their culture, their land, and their religion. They overcame great obstacles of horrible racism, oppression, unjust arrests, etc. through unity. There is a great deal that can be learned from these people when it comes to perseverance, unity, courage, and respecting one’s elders.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.