Grandmothers Beatrice And Rita long visitor holy dance
use Indian Medicine all the time at home. Our spiritual ways, our Sun Dance
ways are encouraging prayer and bringing a lot of people back. A lot of
young boys and girls are coming into the Sun Dance and are learning to
reconnect with the source of their being."
Grandmother Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance"
"Our Lakota people didn't know alcohol. They were clean. They ate well and lived well. Alcohol was brought into this country. Now it's destroying our people, destroying all the tribes over all the nation. They don't know how to handle it. Even worse are all the drugs these days. We must reach our grandchildren. They need to understand that the Creator provides all that we need. He takes care of us. They don't have to use the alcohol."
Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance"
Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance
The Pine Ridge Indian reservation is the most poverty-ridden area in America. Unemployment rates are 85%, school drop-out rates are up to 62%, and suicide rates are twice the national average. These desperate conditions may be of benefit the U.S. government. The United states is pressuring the Lakota to sell them the Black Hills.
In 1868, the U.S.
Fort Laramie Treaty which set aside the Black Hills for the
Lakota. In 1869 gold was discovered, so the U.S. grabbed back
the land. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote "the
taking of the Black Hills ($60,000,000,000 in gold) is the most ripe
and rank case of dishonorable dealing ever perpetrated on a people
by the United States government." Almost 140 years later,
the Lakota remain in the fight for the return of their Sacred Hills.
Grandmother Beatrice and Rita remember having good lives as children. They were poor and worked hard: their home was heated by firewood and lit by kerosene lamps. Food came from their garden at the bottom of the hill. The family had their own chicken and cattle. Most of their water was hauled in buckets from the river to the house until 1985, when Grandmother Beatrice had running water installed. Everything was done by hand.
When Grandmother Rita was seven, she left home to attend Catholic Boarding School where she lived 9 months out of the year. Five year old Beatrice wept and wept. When Beatrice was old enough, she joined her sister at school while the remaining siblings stayed home. Beatrice remembers she and Rita always got into mischief together whether at home or school. They were natural pranksters.
In 1942, their mother became ill with cancer. After graduating from 8th grade, Rita stayed home to care for her mother and the children. She also helped her father because he was a Tribal Council representative and needed to be available whenever called. In 1946, Antonia Long Visitor Holy Dance died. The whole family was sad. Beatrice remembers her father sleeping many nights at his wife's grave.
Rita soon returned to school. After she and Beatrice graduated, they worked in the the potato fields, earning 3 cents for bushel a potatoes. That's almost 100 pounds! They bought books with some of that money.
Eventually, Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance fell in love. She waited for Grandmother Rita to fall in love, too, so they could have a double wedding ceremony. Their father paid for the ceremony and for a double wedding dinner! "We had a good dad," Grandmother Rita remembers. "We always had everything. He made sure we had clothing. He even took care of us after we married. He didn't have to, but he did."
Nineteen years after their mother died, their father was killed in a car accident. Since then, the sisters hold their parents and grandparents in their daily prayers. During the days of organizing and preparing for sacred ceremonies, the family sheds many tears remembering their loved ones.
Today, Grandmothers Rita and Beatrice worry about their people, poverty, and the enormous drug and alcohol abuse problems on the reservations. They are very disturbed about the effects on youth. The Grandmothers say teens are disrespecting elders who refuse to give them drug money; some 13-14-year-olds are having children; parents and other adults are passed out on the street. Some who need drugs or alcohol will beg or threaten people for drug money . Both women worry about traveling alone.
"It's really really bad," Grandmother Beatrice says." ...it's dangerous to go to town. I take Rita with me."
"I'm her bouncer!" Grandmother Rita laughs, reminding us that even in their 80s, sisters Rita and Beatrice remain best friends.
Grandmothers Rita and Beatrice pray for youth to find their spiritual paths and leave drugs and alcohol alone. Grandmother Rita reminds us of the sacred rites given to the Lakota people by the White Buffalo Calf Woman 19 generations ago. "Our spiritual ways, our Sun Dance ways are encouraging prayer and bringing a lot of people back," she says. "A lot of young boys and girls are coming into the Sun Dance and are learning to reconnect with the source of their being."
Grandmother Rita and
Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance expressed their gratitude to the
Grandmothers Council for being asked to join. They spoke about
peace, love, hope, faith, and charity, all the things that go with
Mother Earth. They hope the Grandmothers Council brings good
things to the children, grandchildren, and children to come and will
give a voice to the Lakota People.
Native Village News Articles Archives
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Beatrice and Rita Media Articles
The Sacred White Buffalos: Miracle and Miracle's Second Chance
|A Lakota Christmas Story|
Native Americans and Mount Rushmore
Horse, Tashunca-uitco (1849-1877)
Listen to sound clips of traditional music
**Lakota Women's Honor Songs
From the Standing Rock Indian Reservation
As told by Rosella Goodwill Archdale, Lakota
Native American Tales
and Legends of the Sioux
from the Western Front
and Lakota Star Knowledge
Lakota Language Consortium
A star is born.
Myths and Legends in Art:
Americans for Grade Schoolers
Hills Treaty, 1868-
June, 2007: Grandmother Beatrice's 80th Birthday photo
NPR Radio broadcast
Sacred Land Film Project
*Lakota Winter Counts
Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman
Plains Restoration Council
Pipes in Plains Indian Adornment
Top photo: USA Today