Story- wičhówoyake

Our stories are important. They help us hold onto our history, they help us laugh, they bring us tears, but most importantly help to ground us and hold close what is important. I learned a lot from my Grandparents and other elders in my family. Through their stories I have a deep connection with many in my families past as Indigenous people. As I sit and reflect on the atrocities that are happening on and around our Nations Reservations and in the world, utter despair moves across my heart. Wanting to do more. Feeling helpless. Scared for what is to come. Anger at those who are sent to protect and fail to do so.

My Great Aunt Wihopa- Agnes Ross

I found myself going back to the teachings of my family elders. My Grandfather (Wanbli Watakpe) Tom Conroy taught me that knowledge and wisdom (Wóksape) is important for the wellbeing of all people. His countless stories and words did not go unheard. I learn, I listen, I share because that is how I was taught. And that is how I can help now.My Grandmother Alice Sherman taught me the importance of prayer (Wocekiya). We cannot go through life without being called to witness the multitude of happenings around us. Things will always affect us, but it is important that we continue daily to pray and bring peace within. My time spending with my Gram gazing in silence at God’s creation through prayer is my everyday peace and solace she has given me.

My Great Uncle Harvey and Aunt (Wihopa) Agnes Ross spoke to me about respect (Waohola). In order for people to live together in peace they have to respect one another. Just as I respected them for their wisdom they passed to me growing up about our Lakota culture, they respected me in knowing I am the future. I was taught that everything was put on earth by Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit/God). That all people and things are relatives. We are all one. When we act upon this daily with this understanding of respect we will see an outcome of peace among our families, tribal nations and other people.

However the most important I find that is much needed recently is the practice of forgiveness (Wawoktugan). My Grandmother Jeanette Conroy would always tell me that things in life cannot be changed once they have happened. These things can make us sad, we may lose trust, our faith may waiver some, but this is all a part of working to forgive. Cry, scream, stomp your feet, name it and let it all out then let it go. I did all those things standing in the midst of my grandmother ready to comfort me when I was done. As I work through my own personal feelings of the happenings in the world around me, I will remember that there is hope. Hope in the knowledge and wisdom that has been passed to me and I will pass to others. Hope in my prayers that I say daily. Hope through respect of God’s creation and ALL within it. Hope through forgiveness. These things may not seem easy during a time when my heart aches, but I will not give in to the despair, to the anger.

My Great Grandfather Wasicula (John Conroy)

I will rise above and carry with me the teachings of my relatives and know that when my Great-Great Grandfather Wasicula (John Conroy) stood up for what he believed in at Greasy Grass, today his story, his plight, is not going unnoticed. His bravery and his passion for his community, his people, for me, is still relevant today. Over 150 years later. So if you don’t know what to do. What to say. If you feel angry or sad. Rise Up. Listen to the wisdom that surrounds us, of those who have experienced this before, and learn from it and show the world we are all one! I am from the Oglala Lakota Nation and you all are my brothers and sisters.

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