My blog on going to Russell Means’s Sundance this week

It’s a funny thing to say that Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota with its abject poverty, 80-85% unemployment, a life expectancy in the mid 40’s for men is actually probably my favourite place on earth and when I’m there I spend most of my time laughing my head off with the wonderful group of friends that I’ve gotten to know from all aspects of life on the reservation. But this is how it is for me. There is no denying that I’ve built a special connection with the reservation in the eleven years I’ve been going there on a regular basis after the repatriation of a Ghost Shirt from the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow first brought me there.

So I am heading back for three weeks and this time it is for a very special reason. Back in 1998 when I started to learn about Pine Ridge it had a lot to do with reading the remarkable autobiography of legendary American Indian Movement leader Russell Means. When I say legendary and many of you scratch your head in wonder of why you do not know the name is that racism is alive and well in the USA and you can see that most evidently in the reporting of current events and recent history. Russell instigated bigger civil rights actions than Malcolm X ever did. Some equalled the scale of activities of Martin Luther King and often exceeded the Black Civil Rights movement in terms of the violence thrown back at them by the US Government. Most famous is the Wounded Knee Occupation over 71 days in 1973 when members of AIM occupied the small village of Wounded Knee while residents still lived there and the Government with armoured personnel carrier and fighter planes flying overhead fired up to half a million bullets in on the activists. Amazingly only two AIM supporters were killed.

In the aftermath of 1974-76 Pine Ridge (where Wounded Knee is located) had a comparable rate of political murder and disappearance as Chile did under Pinochet. Of course this is not taught in Schools, the only thing that is remembered about the occupation today is that Marlon Brando turned down the Oscar for the Godfather in solidarity with AIM and began forging a close personal friendship with Russell. Amazingly I started to get to know Russell in 1999 and now we are very good friends and I am arriving to join him and others for his Sundance in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the most sacred of land for his people the Oglala Lakota. I dreamed about being at a Sundance in 1999 with Russell, their culture places great significance on dreams and it is truly a great honour to be invited by this great man to an event that was banned for many years by the US Government and thus for a non-Indian to be invited is a great gesture of trust and honour.

The Sundance starts on the 8th with the ceremonial Tree Day where the grounds are formally set for the dance and it finishes on the 13th with a feast and give away. Traditionally the leaders of the tribe had the least as it was considered a great honour to give away their goods. Something the Christian European settlers could never understand and tried to force the suppression of and enforce the ownership of land and property. But today give aways are still practised by the traditionals, horses, bison, etc. The final act of the Sundance is the host to give away to the participants. In spite of all the hardships people face purely to survive on the reservation to see such generosity still practised by some is a beautiful sight.

I am a bit in the dark over what to expect at the Sundance. We shall all be camping together for the time where Bison (often described as Buffalo on the Great Plains) roam freely. During the ceremony some of the men will pierce their flesh and have a sinew tied from their flesh to a Bison skull and then they’ll drag it around dancing till the flesh is torn free. Other similar offerings are made. For me I see a lot of Cultural Tourist from Europe with an idealised view of the traditional Lakota way of life for whom going to a Sundance would be their wet-dream. For me it is very different. For me my connection with the Lakota is not cultural but purely human and direct in an indescribably way but it’s a very clear thing that I and my Lakota friends feel. For me attending the Sundance is a great honour being bestowed by a great man upon me. But excitement I feel is spending a week in the wilderness disconnected from the insanity that has become modern life with all the fictions that we worry ourselves over. For me to shut my brain down from the fog of how many emails have come in since I last logged on and concern about a political situation in some far flung land. Just to commune with those around us and to get in tune with the natural world. The great beauty of the traditional Lakota is that they understand the different about what is real and what is an assumed reality. Of course the only downside is that I miss the kick off of the World Cup, but life is full of sacrifices :).

What amazes me most is that thing most glorious in life, how things you could not have imagine arise into reality. Twelve years ago Russell Means became a hero of mine when I read his book in my home in Scotland. Now I am sharing another chapter in our friendship together. How magical life can be. Oh and by the way, Marlon Brando and I have something in common, we’ve both helped bail Russell Means out of jail. Pity it wasn’t his looks or his talent very cool all the same.

Somehow I feel that this experience is going to lead to a shift in my evolution. Stay posted to find out.

© 2010, StevenLewisSimpson. All rights reserved.

249 thoughts on “My blog on going to Russell Means’s Sundance this week”

  1. I am delighted that I have noticed this site. Finally anything not a junk, which we undergo extremely frequently. The web site is lovingly serviced and saved up to date. So it should be, thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Good – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task..

  3. Extremely rated post. I be taught one thing totally new on completely different blogs everyday. Deciding on one . stimulating to read the paper content material from other writers and learn a little something from their website. I’d like to use sure of this content on my blog you’re mind. Natually I’ll give a link here we’re at your internet-site. Recognize your sharing.

  4. Hey! That’s a really nice post. I’m very certain I will counsel it to my co-workers.If you happen to submit extra posts please e mail them to me.

  5. À quoi bon ne pas dire de l’exposé qui garde le surtout à estomac rappelle a plupart depuis sujets? L’épiphénomène prédominant des récents trimestres au sujet de la communication des actualités

  6. Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web-site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you?¦ve on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and just couldn’t come across. What a perfect web-site.

  7. Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring?K I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

  8. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem with your site in internet explorer, could test this?K IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a huge component of other people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  9. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & assist different users like its aided me. Good job.

  10. I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my site as well and let me know what you think.

  11. Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It’s very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.

  12. What i don’t realize is in reality how you are not actually much more well-favored than you might be right now. You’re very intelligent. You recognize therefore significantly on the subject of this matter, made me in my view consider it from a lot of numerous angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be interested except it is one thing to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs great. At all times care for it up!

  13. I do trust all the ideas you have presented for your post. They are very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  14. Thank you for another great post. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such information.

  15. I can not feel absolutely do not agree with the author, however, would do well to develop the topic complementary because from my perspective, this general approach may prove to be the case for some a bit confusing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *