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Goodbye, Columbus

On Monday, I sent my son to school on what would have been a holiday called Columbus Day when I was his age.  I checked the school district website several times to be sure, but yes, it was just a normal school day.  Despite being an "Indian”, as he called us, the sudden disappearance of a holiday dedicated to him left me feeling conflicted.  As a child, when I first heard the rhyme, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” in kindergarten I had been deeply moved by the image of him braving the unknown in his small, wooden boat wearing a skirt and tights with high heels, willing to possibly sail off the edge of the world into the unknown assisted only by a crew of mutinous sailors who lost faith in him and were preparing to throw him overboard just as land was sighted.
It was my mother, a Navajo, who helped me understand more fully what Christopher Columbus meant.  At home washing dishes, she explained how his arrival heralded the beginning of an invasion of our lands and she told me about Hweeldi, the Long Walk where the U.S. force marched Navajo people to a concentration camp.  I could feel in the rhythm of her crisp and measured Navajo-accented voice her distress as she wiped the dishes with greater ferocity and bubbles went flying through the air, some landing on me, anointing me with that hard won knowledge my family had learned.  I came to understand that this country for which I placed my tiny hand over my heart each day and swore, “with liberty and justice for all” was actually a country built upon the theft of my ancestor’s lands and freedom.  I was only 5 years old, but my feelings towards Columbus had turned from respect to a sort burning rage any yes, hurt.

She did not at that time, of course, go into Columbus’ more horrific acts.  He wrote chillingly in his journal on October 14, 1492, just three days after being greeted with kindness by the Lucayan people, “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased.”  But how do you tell young children the truth about the exploits of this man?  Is there a polite way of explaining that in his grasping quest for gold he ordered the cutting off the hands of Indians in Cicao who did not bring him enough tribute of gold every three months?  That he had them wear their hands around their necks and 10,000 died handless?  How 40,000 were shipped to Spain to be sold in the slave markets of Seville?  Or how those that remained were worked to death?  How do you tell children that in 1500 he wrote just eight years after he arrived, “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”  How Indians, both babies and adults were used as dog food, sometimes fed alive to the Spaniards’ dogs.  Within two years 250,000 people in Haiti were dead, some due to suicide with mothers taking their children’s lives before taking their own.  How?  The answer is obvious, you don’t tell children these stories about what happened after he stepped off the boat in the Bahamas.  My elementary school teachers end the lesson on an upbeat note with the map of the world being completed and the sphere the proper shape of the Earth not flat all thanks to the incredible courage and foresight of Columbus.  These terrible truths could be confronted when I was older, but one wonders why we had to learn about the man in such heroic terms if so much about him had to be hidden.   

It was then that I began to feel my dual identity and grapple with it.  An identity both as an “American” and as a members of my Native Nation.  This sorrow and anger, still experienced as an almost physical pain by my mother and now, me is how the story of Columbus’ “discovery” still affects us—those who he misnamed “Indians.”  Even those who lived faraway like the Navajo and have never seen the Caribbean.   It is a dual identity that is not understood at all by the rest of America—not even by the Justices of the United State Supreme Court.  In the recent Supreme Court case Adoptive Girl vs Adoptive Parents in June,  Justice Alito opened his decision written for the majority with the statement, “This case is about a little girl (Baby Girl) who is classified as an Indian because she is 1.2% (3/256) Cherokee.”  Despite the fact that eligibility for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation is not based on blood quantum.  This misapprehension that citizenship in a Tribe is nothing but a racial classification and thus is racist has gained currency in recent years.  

Ordinary Americans voiced their opinions in the same Supreme Court case in the comment sections of online articles, convinced they could judge the Adoptive Girl’s “Cherokee-ness” simply by her percentage of Indian blood and how she looked.  Never mind, that she was 100% Cherokee just like they were 100% American.  After all, you are either a citizen of a country or you are not.  But this peculiar American obsession with classifying people as “mixed-blood” or “pure blood”, “black” or “white”  is as natural to most Americans as the air they breath.  They do not understand that Tribes are nations that persist despite 500 years of invasion.  They only understand Tribes in the context of unfair money-making schemes (i.e. casinos) or an undeserved play for more rights than any other ethnic group. 

And so after 40-plus years of the American Indian Movement, we “Indians” are still tucked away into the corners of the American consciousness and landscape.  As seen in the recent film The Lone Ranger we exist only as a decrepit carnival side show displays (Johnny Depp’s Tonto).  Especially now when words like Genocide have lost their power on the American consciousness after 30 years of a Conservative war against the language of “political correctness.”  Especially since Americans are a people who are by their very definition a people who do not look backwards.  The whole point of coming to America for most immigrants, is to escape a painful past.  They come to our lands to fully embrace the promise of a New World “found” by an adventurer, empty, simply awaiting their industriousness.  It is a story that provides no space to question how “Indians” got to be poor, except for at most a momentary feeling of sadness for the “Poor Noble Indian” that rides off into the sunset, and then the narrative moves on to the continued American project of “Progress”.  This story of “pulling oneself up by ones bootstraps” is a strong one despite the reality that the United States has the lowest level of social mobility is in the Developed World and highest rate of child poverty.

The birth place of our modern Columbus Day holiday was in Colorado (coincidentally the state where I attended kindergarten) where it first became a state holiday in 1907.  It was proposed by a local Italian-American newspaper publisher at a time when Italian-American’s faced great prejudice both as Catholics and as Southern Europeans.  They embraced Columbus as a historical figure who could place them firmly in the story of the settling of America.  Even today, some Italian Americans regard an attack on  Columbus Day as an attack on their own culture and contributions to America.  However, in an interview with journalist Amy Goodman in 2006, Glenn Spagnuolo, member of Transform Columbus Day Alliance and director of PITCH–Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday, claimed Columbus is not admired in Italy or even in his hometown of Genoa.  ”In Genoa, at the quincentennial, they actually tried to shut down the city, so a celebration wouldn’t occur there for tourists,” he said, “in Italy, he’s viewed as the scoundrel that he is.”  I have no problem with appreciating Italian Americans, but let’s face it, there are better Italians out there than Columbus.  We need to honor people of all nations that represent the best in humanity and the kind of people we can talk to our children honestly about without whitewashing their sins.  

Some have expressed the concern about what would happen if we start down the road of holding our heroes up to the standards of today where does it end?  What about the Founding Fathers who were slave holders?  How would we judge them?  The idea that people only acted in these immoral ways in the past because it was more acceptable then can seem reasonable until we consider what happened in Abu Ghraib in 2006.  The shocking images of grinning thumbs up American soldiers (male and female) stacking naked bodies of hooded Iraqis up are a reminder that when one group has absolute power over another an amoral triumphalism can appear and people will do things reminiscent of Nazi treatment of prisoners in World War II.  It shows that when one side has complete power over the other, when no one is looking, the brutality of Columbus and his men can still occur today, and even be perpetuated by modern Americans.  

And even in that barbaric past there were individuals who stood up to this immorality.  Individuals like Bartolomé de las Casas first Bishop of Chiapas who launched a 50-year human rights crusade to protect the “discovered” peoples in the New World from inhuman treatment.  He was originally a slave trader but after seeing the atrocities of Columbus he had a change of heart. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel.” He wrote, “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.” [Italics mine for emphasis.]   I can also cite many examples of criticism leveled at our slave-owning Founding Fathers as not morally reprehensible even for their own time period.  In Thomas Jefferson’s case, we can contrast his slave owning to that of Founding Father Gouverneur Morris’ repulsion at the idea of calculating slaves as 3/5ths of a person in the Constitution, “The admission of slaves into the representation when fairly explained comes to this: that the inhabitant of Georgia and South Carolina who goes to the coast of Africa and, in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity, tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections and damns them to the most cruel bondages, shall have more votes in a government instituted for the protection of the rights of mankind than the citizen of Pennsylvania or New Jersey who views with laudable horror so nefarious a practice.”  [Italics mine]  

In each case, men who lived at the same time did not regard the actions of our heroes as the moral norm and an uncritical assessment of these men puts us on the wrong side of history standing with slavers whose primary motivation was greed—monetary profit and the suffering of others.  Indeed, after Jefferson discovered he was gaining a 4% profit every year through the birth of enslaved children after going through his bookkeeping he grew silent on the issue of emancipation.  He even encouraged a friend to invest; “every farthing …  in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in this country by the increase in their value.”  The “silent profit” and “increase in their value” came from the sale of children born to enslaved women.  Once again, I ask if people at the time argued against such atrocities why should Americans today support them?  It makes no sense.  And then there is Columbus who wrote, “Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise.”  Once again, I ask what are we really saying when we hold such people up for honor?  And what are we teaching our children by doing so?  

And of course, there are those that argue that since some in this hemisphere practiced human sacrifice everyone in the New World deserved what happened to them. On the YouTube video “Reconsider Columbus Day” done in 2011 one commentator wrote, “Genocide? What genocide? Please show me any plans or malicious actions by Columbus. And, yes, you are honoring terrorist if you support those pagan religions that murdered women and children. Indians wiped out entire tribes of other Indians. Thank God Columbus saved them from that life.”  Looking beyond the complete lack morality in such a statement, why are “Indians” not granted the suspension from present day value judgements like Columbus by these same apologists?  Why is every Native person, even an infant, deprived of basic human rights because of the actions of some?  Never mind that we have no way of verifying Columbus’ accusations of cannibalism against the people of the Caribbean as they were exterminated within a few decades and all knowledge we have of them comes from Columbus and his men.  

Don’t the Lucayan people deserve to be accorded the same human rights every person in the world deserves by virtue of simply being human?  And if Columbus lacked the character to do so, why shouldn’t we today?  Why is it so impossible for us to recognize their humanity and not honor the architect of their holocaust?  If Americans today are incapable of mustering the moral courage in the 21st century to do this, more than 520 years later, what does that say about our moral authority on the international stage?  How can we judge Assad in Syria if we raise up Columbus?  I mean, if he was alive today we would probably be threatening him with drone strikes, right?  Yet, we give him a federal holiday.

Today only 22 states and Washington, DC pay their workers and give them the day off on Columbus Day, although it remains a federal holiday.  Other states like South Dakota have changed the name to Native American Day and in Hawaii they celebrate Discoverers’ Day to honor the Polynesian navigators who discovered the islands.  For me, it is a hopeful sign.  I like the idea of a day that honors the survival of the Indigenous people.   As a Navajo and Dakota woman, I can value the words Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal” and see how in my own life how it undid the old Aristotalian world view, “From the hour of their birth, some men are marked out for subjection, others for rule”—and fundamentally, changed my life.  But I can also learn from the failings of the man who never freed the human beings he kept in bondage his entire life.  A man who had children whipped to produce nails which he sold to pay for food he served at his own table cooked by enslaved chefs.  A man who died in debt and whose families of slaves (some actually relatives) were put up for auction and split up, sold to different owners.  This skill of disentangling truth from history is the greatest thing we can teach our children in order to build a better future.  This is the greatest lesson that Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamas in 1492 can teach us.

So where do we go as Columbus Day continues to disappear?  Perhaps we can learn from Truth and Reconciliation Commissions like the one that dealt with the painful legacy of racism in Greensboro, North Carolina.  In 1979, Klu Klux Klan and Nazi party members attacked and killed five anti-racism protestors in Greensboro in front of four television news crews that videotaped the murders.  All of the murders were acquitted.  How do we begin the process of breaking down entrenched power structures which use acts of domestic terrorism to keep certain members of society “in their place”?  In 1985, the families of the victims did win a landmark $350,000 civil judgement against the city.  20 years later, the community sought healing and began a Truth and Reconciliation Commission modeled on the ones in South Africa and brought racists and their victims to the table to talk and find common ground.  As one shooting victim said, “Truth is not always beautiful.”  As Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission said, “I believe that the hope of our city [Greensboro] is not to run from its yesterdays but to face its yesterdays so that its yesterdays will not be its tomorrows.”  

Therefore what we need is not only a name change of the federal holiday from Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day to honor a peoples’s hard won survival and cultural contributions to our world, but an exploration of our own of that painful history.  We need to show our children we can look at “heroes” with clear eyes and use that clarity to build a society of which we can truly be proud and pass on to future generations.  If my child stays home on this day to celebrate Indigenous People’s survival, I’d like him to attend one of these Truth and Reconciliation Commission meetings to learn what it means to face the past without fear and to see the world not in black and white terms.  This is what I want from this day, not to go on as if nothing happened, not to simply no longer celebrate Columbus but to honor the deaths of millions in this hemisphere and make it mean something.  Perhaps then, someday, my children can explain what happened after Columbus reached our shores to their children not simply as a painful truth as my mother did but as a lesson our society has learned. Because it is in that learning that our true humanity is expressed across all the barriers of “race”, time and of blue oceans, now, today, and every day.

Jacqueline Keeler
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Researching Ohunkaka stories--traditional Lakota/Dakota teaching stories that were taught to children to teach them social mores and morals, I found an old article I wrote about it years ago.  It is very academic, but I think it was also published in Wicazo Sa (Red Pen) Review then edited by fellow Dakota Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.  To show ever more how Dakota are related she immediately figured out how we were related, although she was from Crow Creek and my dad's family were Yankton.  Her Uncle Theo had been married to my grandpa's cousin Julia Keeler and the house my grandmother lived in had once been theirs!   Truly in the Dakota world we are all related!

Felix Brunot, Ihanktowan Dakota Chief as a boy

When we speak of "mitakuye oyasin" all my relatives, we know always
that the growing and moving things of the earth, the winged, the
four-legged, and the two legged are all children of the earth and they,
too, want to live.  So we say mitakuye oyasin.

- Black Elk

        I have used this quote because it explicitly verbalizes and puts us into the state of mind, which the ohunkaka demonstrates; a way of relating to our environment that is Lakota.  The traditional Lakota folk story, the ohunkaka is particularly suited for use in the political restructuring of the Lakota future, as it has embedded in it the symbology of culturally-specific features that could be used to redefine the Lakota relationship to its past and thus, redirect the perceived future of the people.  As noted by Elaine Jahner in "Cognitive Style Oral Literature" the "Lakota ohunkaka function primarily as pedagogical means."   The most recent, and perhaps, most explicitly political use of the Stone Boy (Inya Hok si), was seen in the prepared statements given by Charlotte Black Elk, Lakota Oral Historian, at the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act hearings held on Wednesday, July 16, 1986 at the U.S. Senate.  In her testimony, Ms. Black Elk's states that her purpose is to show that "traditional Ikce (Lakota) philosophical principles and theological concepts for organizational design and management practice is one the Lakota have used for thousands of generations, and is still appropriate, particularly for the Black Hills."
Charlotte Black Elk

This need to reaffirm the Lakota peoples connection to the land--particularly to the Black Hills, through myth arose out of the attempts by the United States to negate the Lakota's claim through numerous practices.  This has included the use of myth, in the sense that it is as a way of relating to a mutually agreed upon past history of a people.  This myth written and propagated by Americans, rewrote the history of the Lakota and introduced them as recent denizens of the plains, and put their discovery of the Black Hills, the sacred Paha Sapa at about roughly the same time as that of European explorers like the Vendryes brothers, intrepid 18th century European pioneers of the Dakota territory.  As recorded by Emerson Hough in 1909, "The Sioux did not always live in Dakota, but once dwelt in South Carolina, where their remnants were cleaned up by the savage Iroquois even after the establishment of the English settlements on the Atlantic coast."  Thomas Mails, biographer of Chief Frank Fools Crow, despite noting that Mr. Hough did not see fit to site any sources for this information, asserts that we should accept it in good faith as have many otherexperts of Sioux history.

This myth is far from dead today,this idea is being propagated by even popular commercial historians like James Michenor in his best-selling epic Centennial, published in 1974.  He writes, "do not depict the plains Indians as having been for any great length of time in the locations where the white man discovered them.  Do not fall into the error of writing about white men intruding into areas which the Indian had held from time immemorial."  He then goes on to assert that from 6,000 B.C. to 1750 A.D. the Great Plains were devoid of "permanently settled human beings," and he concludes that, "it must not be thought that they lived there.  They were nomads, hunters who went wherever the Bison went and it was of no concern to them what type of land they lived on.  THEY HAD NO HOME."
Of course, the power of this myth to limit or even possibly eliminate Lakota land claims to the Black Hills is obvious, and is hotly contested by the Lakota themselves.  Dr. David B. Miller, a professor of History at Black Hills State College, Spearfish, South Dakota draws the obvious legal question that the new American myth begs, "at what point in time does an historic seizure of land without just compensation become a moot point?"  As the Chairperson of the Open Hills Association, a political organization that stands in opposition to the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act (the Bradley bill), he states, "opponents of the Bradley bill believe that the bill's supporters should offer traditional and historical evidence such as that offered by the Cheyenne for Bear Butte to substantiate Lakota claims for sacred aspects of the Black Hills."in its explicit use of the ohunkaka and other culture-specific features to directly address this question.  The way in which she uses these thematic structures in such original new ways calls to mind the statements made by an earlier generation of Lakota to Lakota ethnologist Ella Deloria concerning the adaptations embodied in George Sword's storytelling: "tales were never told in that manner.  We had tales treating of Ikto, Iya, the Owl Maker, the cold wizard, the old woman or witch, coyote, and these were personified as humans and besides them there was nothing."   Ms. Black Elk may be particularly able to tackle this task; as she notes in her testimony, she is the great-granddaughter of the famous Lakota medicine man and visionary of Black Elk Speaks, as well as the great-granddaughter of Hollow Horn and a college graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  "Sioux Treaty Hearings" held in Lincoln, Nebraska has never been so specific in its detail.  Although, the ideas given form by the ohunkaka Black Elk recounts have been articulated by elders like the great medicine men Chief Frank Fools Crow.  As recorded in his biography, "when Fools Crow said this same thing, and stooped down as he did so to grab a handful of South Dakota dirt . . . in the Sioux mind they have always been an integral part of the Plains country, and God created the first Sioux out of that very ground.  To understand any of their religious and political views one must hold this fact in mind."

Thus, the testimony that Ms. Black Elk gives in the Sioux Nation Black Hills Act hearing accomplishes a number of things: 1) it establishes the antiquity of the Lakota claims and use of the land; 2) shows the
relationship between the religious practices of the Lakota to particular locations within the Black Hills; 3) organizes the culture-specific features (oral history, myth, astronomy, and linguistical knowledge) of the Lakota in a European definitional fashion; and 4) then transposes this into a traditional Lakota teaching story, the ohunkaka for the non-Lakota U.S. Senate Select Committee.  She begins this process by beginning from the beginning, the Lakota creation story in which the forces of life are personified in a manner similar to (and perhaps derived from) the work of George Sword and relationships are established between them and the Lakota people.  This is the definitional lexicon that she begins with and then continues with a short linguistic study of various Lakota words and their relationship to the earth (Maka), and includes some astronomical and archaeological data.  It is not until she has done all of this that she places these symbols within their proper context of the Lakota ohunkaka, infusing them with meaning and making these symbols accessible to not only the cultural cathexis of the Lakota people, but also the non-Lakota audience who will decide the fate of this bill.  In this way, the ohunkaka fulfills it purpose and it links reality and narrative action by showing how specifically Lakota cognitive features apply to fictional conflicts and their resolutions."

Therefore what I will detail in the next few pages is the way in which Ms. Black Elk's version of the Stone Boy story defines "the relationships between constancy and change [to] reflect fundamental
social processes and interactional models"--basically, how she tailors the lexicon of Lakota symbology to fit the needs of a particular political position.  In doing this, she not only had to work within that lexicon, or circle of symbolic interaction, but without that circle and carry that meaning across cultural boundaries in order to make it intelligible to a European cultural milieu.  Listing the variations in the story across five versions spanning in time nearly 100 years.  I have ordered them (one through five) in the manner in which they are most greatly divergent from Ms. Black Elk's telling of the story.  They are in many ways similar in their intent, that is the pursuit of timelessness, but are at the same time the products of their times.  

Placing it in relation to the Tagluzaza Topa, which she translates as "The Cleansing", an event similar to the "Great Flood" recounted by the Hebrew book Genesis.  By doing so, she calls to mind the fact that this story occurred after a cataclysmic event and is part of a renewal of structures that have maintained the earth ever since that point.  In none of the other versions cited (see chart, pages i - v) is such a reference found, it is, perhaps, assumed.  The inclusion of this reference, is probably for the benefit of her non-Indian audience and serves, in this instance, to further her political point that, "if humans make the wrong choices, they will have to bear the responsibility of selecting their own genocide."

In establishing the human setting of the story, she chooses the point in time when there is relative stability in the core "family" that represents every (Lakota) human family.   There are four brothers and
one sister that are, as she notes, "a family of choice, while not related, come together and choose to be a family."   They can also be seen to be representative of the space we inhabit.  The four brothers
can be seen as corresponding to the four directions or the four winds coming together to one location to define a point in time and space encircled by the circle of the tipi, their home, often referred to by
the Lakota as a symbol of the cosmos.  They are however, static and it is the inclusion of the feminine force that allows for change and, thus, life to occur.  In many of the versions that have been related,
the first woman who arrives at their tipi is evil and attempts to destroy all of them.  Well, not utterly destroy, but to deanimate them and construct from their dead parts either a robe (Deloria) or a shield
(Sword) for herself.  This misuse of resources for a non-life-giving and inherently selfish purpose, also points to the practices of the people prior to "The Cleansing" that necessitated their destruction by
the flood to protect "the work of Hor'e Win (She Makes a Mark =Creation) [who] was in danger of being interrupted and a time of choice was among the nations a red and blue day if Hor'e Win was allowed to complete her task or the humans could declare for their own decision of abandoning the robe of creation."   

The robe of creation that Maka works on is one composed of the life-giving attributes of the energy raised by the interaction through kinship relationships not simply their dead material parts.  Thus, the woman can be seen as a manifestation or personification of a human society's relationship with the earth. extension of the earth, not only as a female, life-giving aspect, but also through her ability to animate stone (Inyan).  "She had found a little transparent pebble which she was carrying in her mouth.  One day, while weeping, she chanced to swallow it.  The result was that a little boy was born to her."   This exactly parallels the creation story of the Lakota people.  As Charlotte Black Elk notes in her version of Otakahe Ekta:
Before anything had meaning, Inyan is the spirit of Inyan is Wakan Tanka that which is that it is, is beyond understanding, what makes it what it is and always is.  Inyan is soft and Inyan is supple, the power of Inyan flows from his blood, and the blood of Inyan is different and the difference is blue.  But hanhepi does not have meaning, for Hanhepi is only the dark emptiness that is the void of space. 
So, Inyan takes of himself and shapes a disk, this he wraps over and around himself.  He names this new being, "Maka" I am from the first.  He desires that Maka be great, so he opens his veins and allows his blood to run freely.
but her heart is more great and special and it stands first of all the places of Maka.  And the liquid of Inyan's blood becomes the water, Mni "life sustaining fluid"circling Maka, the blue of the sky, Marpiya To, I am the difference tossed upward now his spirit, power, and meaning are reduced.  He now becomes inyan "the stone" brittle and hard . . . 

Here, now, within the context of this, the sister's loss of her four brothers, the four directions can be seen as the loss of a locative place.  She is "Hanhepi" and does not have meaning and is devoid of
space.  This would also be true within the Lakota system of kinship relationships, as Ella Deloria notes in her novel Waterlily, "Almost from the beginning everyone could declare, 'I am not afraid; I have
relatives.'  To be cast out from one's relatives was literally to be lost.  To return to them was to recover one's rightful haven."   Therefore, she is in the place within the Creation myth that exists before the creation of Maka and becomes Maka after she swallows the stone (inyan).  In light of this, I see Ms. Black Elk's inclusion of the sister's feelings of anger over her pregnancy as interesting.  These feelings are not attributed to her in any of the other versions of the story I have cited, and must be a result of the non-Lakota audience to whom this version is directed.

"Hok si from a pregnancy to a throwing into the water.   At it for a long time, threw it into the water [a stream].  No sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger.  She took it out and looked at it and threw it in again.  This time it had assumed the form
of a baby."
Although, her reasons for choosing this allegory for the pregnancy may have been due to Victorian prudery over an unwed, illegitimate pregnancy, or it could be due to her source being from the Dakota rather than the Lakota (although she had access to the Lakota and lived amongst them for most of her life)-in any case, her analogy is correct according to Lakota motifs.  The moving water is the blood of Inyan and is where his power flows, and the growth of the stone into a baby is correctly correlated with the interaction (throwing back and forth) between the male Inyan and the female Maka.  This analogy also allows us to see the Lakota symbolic meaning behind the mother throwing her child out of the tipi, that is her circle, which is not because she thinks the child is necessary evil, as noted by Black Elk, but because it is this interaction that brings about life.  When she throws him out of the tipi where does he go?  As seen in McLaughlin's version, he goes to Inyan, his father, the water and continues to be sent to him, until he becomes a man who can help his mother.  Elk's version nor is it attributed to any actions(s) of Inyan Hok si and thus, it must not be perceived as having any bearing on the Black Hills case.  This section seems to deal with the process of individuation through the successful navigation between circles in space.  This is traced on his trip between the home (tipi) of his mother, to his encounter with the old witch (Iya) and her/his degenerated form of tipi, to the sweatlodge (inipi) where his uncles are restored, and finally back home.  I see, once again, the reenactment of a form of "The Cleansing" in this portion of the tale in the life of the family of Stone Boy.  Stone Boy acts to destroy a being (the Iya) that acts to misappropriate (once again) the powers of his four uncles and keeps them in an inanimate form in (or on) his tipi (cosmos or construction of the world).  There is some support that this is an reenactment of the first sister's destruction (and therefore, the previous "cleansing" motif in the story).  In Ella Deloria's "Synopsis of Tales" given in Dakota Texts, she notes that the first part of the Stone Boy tale is similar to that of "Double Face and the Four Brothers" in which "Double-Face, posing as a young woman, comes to live with the four brothers as their sister."   Once again, it is Hakela (youngest brother) who discovers her identity and rescues his brothers.  Double-Face is also the Iya, as related to Hakela in another tale by Iktomi.  This corresponds with McLaughlin's version (which lacks a first evil sister) in which the old witch who captures the brothers says, "I hate her [the good sister], for I was going to try and keep house for them and marry the oldest, but she got ahead of me and became their sister."   The witch is identified as the Iya (Double-Face) also in Bad Wound's version.  Thus, the original sister is Iya, as well as the witch (which could be a reference to the two faces of Double-Face, which have the same source and each conceal the same intent).
That she would gloss over this aspect of the story is particularly surprising when, as noted in two of the versions (Bad Wound's and McLaughlin's), Stone Boy's very reason for existence is to free his
mother's brothers.  "My father sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing can harm me, because I am stone and my name is 'Stone Boy'",  and again, "the Great Beast told her that the four brothers were kept by a stone and that a stone would find them and bring them back to her."
In addition to this, by entirely cutting out Iya from her version she may have lost a very potent archetype for the materialist society she sees as being very destructive to the earth.  As, however, the battle with the Iya does not take place directly in the home of the Lakota people, but often, in the home of the Iya, itself, it is not directly applicable to the Black Hills case, and may have even detracted
somewhat from her argument as to the Black Hills being the specific location of a 'final battle" between good and evil.  Smashing the cubs is done out of jealousy for their beloved (or hunka) status and as symbolic embodiments of wisdom.  In all the other versions where this scene is included, these beloved children are symbolized by buffalo, normally four in number, or as in McLaughlin's version, twins,
another way, consistent with Lakota symbolism of conveying a beloved status.   Black Elk, probably uses the bear (mato)  to continue a line of symbolism she developed in a previous story of the Race around the Black Hills between the winged and the four-legged (Otakuye Topa Wamaka
Og'naka I'Cante oki'inyanke) in order to determine the fate of the two-leggeds.  She attributes the wingeds' desire to save the two-leggeds to their respect for the wisdom of the bear.  This reason
is not mentioned in her Great-grandfather Black Elk's version documented in The Sixth Grandfather.   Charlotte Black Elk's use of the Mato interpretation, however, demonstrates the pedagogical nature
of the ohunkaka.  It allows her to use a symbol, Mato, wisdom to reconnect humanity to the rest of creation and endow us with a debt and respect for the powers of the four-legged, the winged and the other two-leggeds to whom we now owe our existence expounded in Black Elk's interpretation of the sledding scene.  She interprets Inyan Hok si's actions to not only arise from a desire to be
feared for being the "one who killed a child so special.  All would clear a path for the one who would crush wisdom,"  but as the right thing to do as, "the representation of evil, aligning itself with good,
in this case the esteemed child of the earth the bear, is a lesson that evil will hide behind goodness (thereby corrupting even wisdom) to achieve its own ends."  Although, this is not so clearly articulated in any of the other versions of the sledding scene, it may be implied.

This is supported by Bad Wound's version, which does not contain a sledding scene but espouses a similar interpretation for Inyan Hok si's smashing of his father, the stone, who has become evil and made a deal with the Iya, and we also find the bear (Iya's "child") who helps the Iya perpetuate his evil deeds, as well.  As Stone Boy notes, "I broke my own father because he was evil."   This could also apply to modern society, in that it can be interpreted as the misuse of a beloved child of wisdom (science) in our own society for destructive acts against creation and Maka.  The use for evil purposes of inyan, the stone can be seen in the use by the modern Iya (capitalistic society) of the
energy resources under Maka (the earth), which is, according to the Creation myth, Inyan (the stone).  This scene is included to allow us to see who it is that stands behind these beloved children.  In the Lakota way, this would relate to who it is that holds them beloved and is such high esteem that they would hold great give-aways in their honor and provides this with this status.  In Black Elk's version we see it is the monster, Tata Gnaxkiya  who as Deloria notes is a bad spirit.  In another ohunkaka documented in Dakota Texts, "Boy-Beloved's Blanket", this monster "Crazy Buffalo" attempts to steal a beloved child's blanket (identity) and give it to his own child.  This supports Black Elk's premise that it is but an evil spirit attempting to coopt and misdirect the powers of the good.   Stone Boy, therefore is correct in smashing them like he did his own father who was similarly coopted. Black Elk's version explicitly alludes to another cataclysmic event on the scale of "The Cleansing".  She writes, "the Lakota will be at a time of war (the day of blowing skies) . . . the moon turning orange is a symbol of disruption in the balance of wiconi/wicunt'e (the power to make live and the power to destroy).  The earth staggering in her path is a symbol of final destruction as the earth is dying."   Her description of the day is similar to that of other versions cited, although she substitutes an orange moon  for the "brown-tinged clouds" described in the other versions and includes a reference to the earth
staggering that is not mentioned in any of the others.  This could be an additional symbol to drive home the point to a non-Lakota audience in terms that they could appreciate (an earthquake) and presently fear.

In Black Elk's version, the Tata Gnaxkiya also specifies that he wants part of the root of the tree, she notes this as being, "a reference to the center of the Lakota "Ho coka" (sacred hoop), where stands the sacred tree."   It is interesting that Bad Wound, in his version, describes Stone Boy's mother as being from "the heart of the tree," thus, as a symbol of Maka (as earlier established) the monster is asking for part of the earth must construct circular walls around his home, a circular tipi, all symbols of wholeness, completeness, the cosmos.  It is also the symbol of the Lakota people, and is a name they use for their own camps, ho coka and for the Black Hills, Ho coka yapi, a sacred name meaning simply, the center.  Another name for the Black Hills is Otiwita, which means "home sanctuary".  The red race track encircling the Black Hills is used as a motif in her version to denote the final wall, which is red in color (sa, also meaning decorated) and shaped like a tipi.  This does not correspond to any of the other versions cited, which describe four fences (not three as Black Elk stipulates) constructed of wood, not stone, except is one case.  In McLaughlin's version, the final barrier is constructed at the last minute by Stone Boy (as are all the barriers in Black Elk's version) and is made of white stone (not red).  Red (sa) and white (ska) are somewhat similar in sound, but connote slightly endings to the story, I believe.  There is of course, the analogy that the color red possesses to the Black Hills itself, but it also may be seen as identifying with the Lakota way.  Today, red is associated with the Indian people by most Lakota medicine men and seeking sanctuary in a red tipi may symbolize seeking sanctuary in traditional Lakota ways, particularly those associated with the home and kinship.  White on one level, could be seen as signifying the European lifestyle, as Mrs. McLaughlin herself did espouse.  It does however, also refer back to Stone Boy's own creation from a white stone, and the shooting up is reminiscent of the "throwing up" of Marpiya To and another form of birth, as is the "rubbing together" of the stones as seen in Black Elk's version.  This act of "birth", however produces a child (the stone barrier) that protects him, unlike his smashing of his own father in Bad Wound's version.  And as Charlotte Black Elk's notes in her testimony, what distinguishes us two-leggeds (both the bear and the human) is this proclivity for choice.  It is obvious which choice she would like for the Lakota people to make and for the White people to support and she has made this clear through the symbolism of the ohunkaka's pedagogical grandstand of ideas.

This need to reaffirm the Lakota people's connection to the land-- This myth is far from dead today,this idea is being propagated by even the testimony and prepared statement given by Ms. Black Elk is unique.
Earlier testimony given in previous years, including that of the 1974 
To examine this I have included in my paper a chart (page i - v),
She begins her version of the ohunkaka Stone Boy (Inyan Hok si)_ by "When the woman is good, she can also be seen as representation ... At the time of the first motion, Inyan from which it is.
Hanhepi "it is without motion" is then,
Inyan desires that another exist . . .
All of Maka is great
Now, Maka becomes the earth,
So the other would be Inyan takes of himself, completely,

In Marie McLaughlin's  version, she transposes the creation of Inyan
"She picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and after looking

The return of the brothers is not described in any detail in Black Elk

In the sledding scene, Black Elk claims that Inyan Hok si's desire to
The theme brought up in Bad Wound's version of the ohunkaka is also
The revenge scene, is preluded by the "Old Man" scene (as I have termed
The references to the day that the attack will occur as set up in Black Elk.
To defend against this attack, Inyan Hok si, in all versions cited,
In this last use of symbolism, we can see how a choice has been made,
Jacqueline Keeler
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