Greetings my relatives,
First of all before I get into talking about anything, I want to tell
you how much I deeply appreciate your remembering all the people who
stood for what's right at the Oglala Confrontation. And I deeply want
to thank you for remembering me and the chance to express myself to
you. Each time that I am asked about putting together a comment for
any kind of event I always think to myself what if I never got to say
another thing. As you get older, that could very easily be a reality.
So I try to give a lot of thought to what I say to you and to others
and especially to any young people who might be listening to my
words. And I want to be quite honest. The words I have to say are the
teachings of our people, our elders, our medicine people and things
I've learned in life the hard way. And things I've learned in a good
way. If speaking to you in some way makes your life better or
prevents you from going to prison or being hurt or losing your land
or your culture or helps in regaining the things our people have
lost, then I feel it will be worthwhile.
I hope and pray that none of the young people will ever end up in any
prison situation. And especially end up in prison for trying to do
what is right and defending what is right. In this prison setting the
days go by oh so slowly and the months and years as I look back at
them all kind of fold into one; because every day is so much the
same. There are very few highlights and you hear of people having
nightmares in their dreams but in here the nightmare is in your
waking moments. And in your sleep you are free for a while.
I want to say how much I appreciate and respect our people for not
selling or giving up the Black Hills in South Dakota. And how much I
want to encourage all our people to remain strong and do everything
they can to regain our culture. If we are ever to be a strong people
again, that we once were, it will be because we have taken
responsibility to regain our strength. This government will never
return anything meaningful that is still of some money value to them.
This is not my opinion, it is reality and obvious to anyone who pays
attention. We must do everything we can to regain strength of
self-discipline. We must do everything we can to fully take
responsibility for our future. Our ancestors before us fought and
died and suffered for us. Each person here today is a result of
someone who in the face of death and imprisonment stood and said,
"The future of my children and my children's children and generations
to come, is worth living and dying for." We should never let those
sacrifices be in vain. The Creator of all things does not want our
death; the Creator of all things wants our life; wants us to live for
ourselves and for our children, and to protect the earth and nature
for our future generations. That is who we are.
If you feel or have come to believe that you have a calling to do a
certain thing for your people, if you prayed about it in ceremony and
you feel this is a true thing in your life, then you should educate
yourself with every part of that calling. Don't wait for it to come
to you. Go find that knowledge. Knowledge is strength - knowledge is
power - knowledge is survival - knowledge and truth comes from the
Creator and belongs to everyone. Don't worry about who said what or
who said it first or who said it last; figure out how you can use it
to better the life or yourself and our people. The movement of our
people that has existed ever since Columbus landed in the Caribbean
belongs to all our people. It needs no sanction from anyone. It
belongs to no man or no woman. It truly belongs to our people because
it is the spirit of our people saying, "We want to regain what we
lost and protect what we have for ourselves and our future generations."
Another issue I want talk about for a moment, is the issue of alcohol
and drugs, I know from personal experience that it's hard to avoid
those things when you grow up around them. I can tell you for a fact
that alcohol and drugs will not bring you the life that you want.
This world has a lot of beauty in it, a lot of joys and challenges,
and it has challenges that hurt, but meet those challenges and know
the beauty of this earth and this life. You need to be clear minded.
Traditionally our people observed nature and got their inspiration
from nature and if there is some place in nature where the wolf
polluted his brain or the elk or the eagle or any other creature, I'm
not aware of it. We need every ounce of good thinking that we have
and can get to protect our lives and our children and our culture.
And I want to tell you for a fact that boredom is a part of life, no
matter where you are, and if you get up and go find something to do
when all around you are getting drunk or using drugs, after a while
you will get better at finding things to do. And your life will be
far better. And getting depressed is a part of life, but you don't
learn how to deal with it by putting in into your body that weren't
meant to be there. That's why the creator gave us our medicines and
our ceremonies and each other, so that we could with a clear mind,
enjoy life, and protect life and rescue life where it was endangered.
If there is someone hearing this that has thought about taking their
own life, I would encourage you to rather than throw your life away,
give your life to your people. Let your life stand for something.
Don't let the sacrifices of our ancestors be for nothing.
Also I want to say, that you can do all the right things day after
day, year in and year out and still bad things can happen. But if you
have a clear mind, and have developed your own self-discipline in
knowing who you are, you can take these bad things as challenges and
use them to make yourself stronger and your people stronger and
prevent them from happening to yourself or to others that you care
about. And I want to say again, especially for the young people, that
one of the most important things you can learn that most of our
ceremonies are based on is developing your personal self-discipline.
And learning to take responsibility for yourself and your future and
taking care of your health, is the greatest gift you have on this
earth at this time. And the most important thing that would enhance
all your lives in making it stronger and better is to develop
personal relationship with the Creator. Don't let it be based on some
other person's approach to spirituality but find the things that work for you.
Our teachings have always shown us how to find our own vision through
prayer and fasting and sacrifice. These things help bring forth the
elements of our spirit and make us stronger and help us face the
challenges of life. I hope that in hearing my words some of you if
not all, will be inspired in a good way. My greatest hope is that you
will think about these things and apply them to your life as you find
the truth of them. And sometimes I know we have to return to what we
said, maybe have someone speak it to us again or read it again, but
whatever happens I sincerely pray and hope that all our lives will be
better and for the better and not just for our people but for all
people. Because our way is not just another way of life it is THE way
of life. It is life seeking life, it is life protecting life, it is
living in such a way that all things are reborn every Spring.
I'll close for now, thank you for your time, thank you for listening,
remember the sacrifices of those who lived and died for you. Remember
Joe Stuntz, and all the others who gave their lives, as I know you
do, I would love to be with you now, today, and know that in my heart
I am, in my heart I stand next to you. May the creator bless you
always in all ways.
(Ryan Rodrick Beiler)