I’m working on a writing exercise and need an explanation to help me understand better.
4. Ut Prosim and being useful to the healing process of others.
What you know about Abraham Lincoln? I would bet that this probably includes a relatively universal and flat collection of tidbits about his life: a beard, a hat, the Emancipation Proclamation, president during the American Civil War, maybe a few other things. I highly doubt it includes something almost all Natives know him for: ordering the largest one-day mass execution in American history involving the hanging of 38 Dakota men.
During the American Civil War, rations were in short supply. Dishonest government officials, in charge of providing rations to the Sauntee Sioux, did something other with that food than provide it to the tribe (e.g. sold them). This was causing starvation on the reservation in harsh Dakota winter. Native men went off the narrow, elongated reservation to find food. In stepping off the reservation, those Dakota men were in violation of treaty and were sentenced to death.
The Natives on that reservation had been relocated there from the woods of Minnesota, a very different environment with very different resources than South Dakota, making survival challenging. Additionally, during relocation Natives were often marched or transported in harsh ways that provoked mass death during transit. So, instead of killing Natives outright, they could be said to have died from exposure. Those who didnt die from relocation had a very difficult time adjusting to life on their prisoner of war (POW) camp or reservation in South Dakota.
When the Dakota men were charged with leaving the POW camp/ reservation and sentenced to death, the government marched them back to Minnesota right before Christmas 1862, again hoping that the adversity of the winter march for the already starving Dakota men would cause them to die from exposure; they all survived the march and were hung on Dec. 26. This generational trauma has remained unhealed and has been passed down ever since; it is still causing great pain. The original men killed were just trying to feed their people and those still suffering did not know why for many years as it is a dark and sequestered part of our shared history. They are now trying to heal to stop the transmittance. In Dakota 38, you will see Native riders on horseback enduring tremendously adverse weather attempting to retrace the harsh path (same time of year, duration, and route) of those Dakota men as they were marched to their death. These riders are igniting their inner-fires with the use of horse medicine.
Reservations were put far from the mainstream of American activity. Geographic separation, cultural differences, and time have created mythology about the other on both sides. Healing is necessary for both sides for us to move forward. This film is a great example of illustrating how no one involved in the present is responsible for the abuses of the past, but the healing is everyones responsibility. You do not have to fully understand how someone is healing, but you need to trust them to know what they need and to be supportive of their process; you provide what you can when it is relevant and requested. For that to happen, significant time must often first be spent in finding relatedness. Watch the video, Dakota 38:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pX6FBSUyQI (1 hour, 18 min in length).
A. What information in this story is new to you (provide specific information from the video to support your response)?
B. What resonates with you from this film (provide specific information from the video to support your response)?
C. What are your thoughts on how the riders waking their ‘inner wolverine’ for the purpose of healing?
D. How do the non-Natives try to be useful to the Natives as they heal even though they may not fully understand the process?
E. What does this make you think about what you now know about Native Peoples from taking this course and how you may use your unique Ut Prosim to be useful to healing existing inequities so that we can all move forward together in a more positive direction to heal from the past?