The Black Hills, land of Presidents and Warrior Chiefs

Mitakuye Oyasin

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin….All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today. I am grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge you in this prayer….

To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.

To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.

To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.

To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.

To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.

To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages. I thank you.

To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.

You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery.

Thank you for this Life.

The Native American theme continues the prairie dog and bison community feeling of the Badlands.  The people I’ve met in my journey west have been genuine and kind, very down to earth.

After leaving the badlands and entering the Black Hills, we decided to join middle America for a tour of several national monuments.  It’s easy to consider opting out of Mt. Rushmore but we were convinced to see it (definitely a once in a lifetime experience) after talking with the curator of the President’s museum in Rapid City, SD. Paying respect to the forefathers we then chugged along (shout out to Gideon Sjoberg) up the road to see the Crazy Horse memorial: http://visitcuster.com/nationalparksmonuments/crazyhorsememorial/. This was an opportunity to contrast the government sponsored production at Mt. Rushmore and the privately owned Crazy Horse Monument.  Korczak Ziolkowski, (the sculptor who worked on Mt. Rushmore and was recruited by 4 Lakota chiefs to carve the monument to their warrior chief) was determined not to accept government funding for the project.   His family continues to work on the carving, which will take another several decades to complete.  I include a link above to the monument website.  I’m glad we took the time to see the 20-minute story of the memorial.

Born on the anniversary of the death of Ogalala Lakota chief Crazy Horse, Korzak gave his heart and soul to the project.  The adversity and the physical hardship he endured was truly astounding. He built the initial scaffolding by hand with the help of an old air compressor (Kaput) which often necessitated climbing up and down 700 rungs of the ladders to restart the old machine. Interviewed at the end of the video, his wife Ruth and seven of his 10 children continue completing the memorial. Several mentioned that they felt they were born to this, their life’s work.  From the inspiration that Henry Standing Bear and the other Lakota chiefs had to honor this Native American hero, to the dedication of one man’s life to it’s realization, the monument is coming alive.  The American Indian learning center to accompany the project will be the largest in the US when completed.  While it may not be completed even in the lifetimes of Korzak’s children, when fully executed it will dwarf the Washington monument, Mt. Rushmore and all existing national monuments in the US.  It is a fitting tribute to the people who stewarded the land for many generations.  Hill City, SD was our last stop on the way to the Grand Tetons, a long drive and the last leg of our journey.

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