Here and There in Colorado
by Paula J. Gruentzel
November, 2002 Denver, Colorado

A Visit from a Lakota Elder

Wallace Black Elk, 82, author and Sicangu Lakota Spiritual Elder, spoke at his granddaughter's Middle School in Colorado recently as part of their celebration of Native American History Month. He was accompanied by his daughter, Marilyn Black Elk.

A few of his thoughts and teachings, which he shared with the students, included:

What is an Indian?
"I am not Indian. Columbus made a 180 degree navigational error. He thought he was in India. Maybe the indigenous people here should have told him to turn around and go back." - Wallace Black Elk "I am not a Native American. My people were here before this Turtle Island was called America.
" - Wallace Black Elk

What Is Respect?
"Respect means that you listen to your elders, your parents, and your teachers. They are trying to help you. You should pay attention. That way, you honor them." - Wallace Black Elk

Wallace Black Elk

You Have Been Given Four Things
"You have been given four things: Wisdom, Knowledge, Power, and Gift. These things that I am telling
you may take years to digest in your minds before they begin to make sense. You must honor these four blessings by having good thoughts, good words, showing kindness to others. When you do this, you will begin to understand what I am talking about." - 

You Are Sacred!
"My people understand that you children are sacred. You are precious. You are our future. Your elders, parents, and teachers need to teach you well so that you can help them when they are old. Listen to what they are teaching you so you will know what to do when you are in charge." - Wallace Black Elk

Flat-headed People.
"Some people thought that the Earth was flat like a pancake. They thought they would fall off the edge. They were flat-headed people. My people knew thousands and thousands of years ago that the Earth is round like a ball. It is a circle. But the "flatheads" never asked my people because they thought we were
just dumb Indians. Now they are in trouble and they want our help. They have turned this Turtle Island,
the land of peace, into a trash pile." -Wallace Black Elk

I Think We Better Learn How To Speak English!
"People say things without understanding or thinking about what they are saying. When you hear something with your ears and let it come out of your mouth, it is called hearsay. Be careful what you let come out of your mouth. Be sure you really understand what your words mean."

"You should learn to speak the language of your ancestors. If you have a German name, learn to speak German. If you have a Spanish name, learn to speak Spanish. If you have a French name, learn to speak French. If you could learn to speak in the language of your ancestors, then you would begin to understand what you are really saying. You could really speak then."

"The English language is all messed up. They teach you to read and write English, but nobody knows
where those words really came from. Their meanings are all messed up now. So people cannot understand what someone is saying to them. People cannot communicate anymore. So I think we all better learn how to speak English before we end up blowing our own heads off with that nuclear bomb, because we can't communicate." -Wallace Black Elk

Wallace Black Elk with Marilyn Black Elk

You Are Part of Everything!
"You are part of everything! You are part of the fire, you are part of the water, you are part of the green, you are part of the stars, and you are related to everything. You are related to the stones, to the trees, to the fish, to the creepy-crawlers, to the ones that fly, to the ones that walk on all fours, and to the ones that walk on two legs. Everything is sacred and, therefore, you are sacred too."

"That's what we mean when we say, Mitakuye oyasin." - Wallace Black Elk

Study and Digest.
"Study my words very carefully. Then they will begin to digest in your mind. Then your bodies will be strong. And then your spirits will be happy." - Wallace Black Elk

Reprint Permission Shared by Wambli Ho, Voice of the Eagles

Graphics and page design by The Greasy Grass

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