January 21, 2019
The strength of Nathan Phillips, an Indigenous elder and veteran, was witnessed by many over the past week. Perhaps the most important teaching to emerge from the Indigenous People’s March last Friday is the world knows we still exist as a spiritual people; singing our prayer songs for all living beings, while advocating to make Mother Earth a peaceful world.
There are many times we as Indigenous people feel invisible. For instance, many people believe we were annihilated by Manifest Destiny. Yet, a crucial issue brought to light from the incident in Washington DC is the way we are treated as “the other” every day of our lives. The world now knows what we often go through every single day. The way we are looked at by white privilege is no longer invisible.
The incident involving students from a Catholic High School at the Indigenous Peoples March showed the online world what our people have suffered since the wasicu arrived. In fact, we suffer from these types of arrogant incidents every day in our homelands. Pitiful are the human beings whom get high on terrorizing Indigenous people.
Yet, we still pray and sing for these diseased minds to heal from the influence of their religion, family and teachers. Consequently, individual behavior as adults generally stems from traumatic events suffered at some point in our lives. Some traumatized humans are driven daily by their deep-seated religious teachings of fear, pain, anger and open hate for “the other.” Catholic children like the boy wearing the MAGA hat, smirking in an Indigenous elder’s face, are being traumatized as you read this. These human children desperately need Indigenous ceremonial prayers and songs.
The Catholic Church continues to prove the agenda of their faith. For example, traumatized Indigenous people and sexually abused children, are irreparably scarred. We pray for the day when humanity recognizes the abuse Catholicism has inflicted on society.
As a Lakota woman living in South Dakota, I recognized the facial expression in the photo of the Catholic boy from Kentucky as he stood in front of Omaha elder Nathan Phillips. The mere look on this kid’s face is what he did wrong. His expression is an unmasked display of his personal attitude toward an Indigenous elder and Vietnam veteran sending love through song. When ignorant people decide to terrorize Indigenous people, they do it by donning the same facial expression displayed by the arrogant Catholic boy. He offended the entire world. Sadly, this behavior is probably justified through teachings of his parents and religion.
I was raised in a Catholic home because my family chose to follow the church several generations ago. My ancestors believed they had no choice but to embrace Catholicism. The government’s attitude toward Indigenous people was either pray and be educated as a Catholic or starve as a hostile savage. That attitude lingers.
I left the Catholic church as a young adult. The confusion between being Catholic and Lakota at the same time wouldn’t allow me to continue praying in a wasicu religion. My spirit didn’t understand guilt, misogyny or threats of eternal damnation. Instead, I went to pray in Inikaga.
My life changed when I embraced the spirituality of my ancestors. However, I’m not writing this to condemn my relatives who still pray in the Catholic church. I realize not all Catholics are horrible people. Many Catholics are very spiritual and I know they are also hurting because of this ignorant display of disrespect.
This ignorant Catholic boy will bear the trauma of having to live with the world-wide social media embarrassment he brought upon himself. Pray for him, his family and all descendants of the failed operation known as Manifest Destiny.
Vi Waln (Sicangu Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist. She can be reached through email firstname.lastname@example.org