Concerning Monday’s Academy Awards broadcast: A 48-year-old doesn’t cry watching TV, a warrior doesn’t cry when a teacher speaks . . . usually.
As Michael Blake, “Dances With Wolves’ ” screenwriter, invited Sioux teacher Doris Leader Charge to translate his acceptance speech into the language of the Lakota/Dakota, I cried.
I thought of my grandparents, who throughout their lives, were forbidden to speak the words of our ancestors. I cried in anger as I thought of my relatives who were punished severely for uttering even a single word of “Indian talk” while at government or mission schools.
I also cried, unabashedly proud, as the world heard this important Okama teacher so beautifully articulate the message in the ancient voice.
We need resolve not to continue the destruction by assimilation of the culture and heritage of indigenous peoples. The roots of human existence may possibly be the only salvation of our species.
It is the belief of the Native American that all things are related. To succeed, we must walk in this balance. Thank you to Kevin Costner, Blake and the other visionaries of “Wolves” (for acting to achieve such a balance).
Today I cry once again, with hope that each of us will strive to work together for a world in symmetry. As the Lakota/Dakota teacher Little Crow says, do it for “all our relations.”
GREAT ELK WATERS
Western U.S. Representative
Shawnee Nation United