Resilience: Remembering Wounded Knee / by Thomas Lopez

by Terrell Catt Iron Shell

Lakota Children - LakotaLaw.org

Lakota Children - LakotaLaw.org

Today We Remember Our Relatives 

We remember those families whose bloodlines were lost more than 120 years ago.  Though this tragedy is behind us, we still endure it today.  We drive by the mass grave everyday.  On our way to school, work, home, ceremony, church, we see them.  We feel them around us.  When we eat they are there, we feed them.  When we pray, they listen.  When we are in need of help, they guide us.  


We know of the true history of this fatal day.  At a very young age we are exposed to the truth. Grandma tells us, “Don’t go into those hills. Stay away from those caverns, there are spirits there.”  The relatives that remain undisturbed and exposed.  Children of this nation know no justice. Though we know the system better than most, we are forgotten and ignored.  Revolution is our only choice.  We are descendants from powerful, courageous warriors.  The memories are still imprinted in our DNA.  Honor yourself in the way you would honor our ancestors.  We are the same people.


We grew up with role models like Russell Means, Carter Camp and Leonard Crow Dog.  Heard the stories of the old days.  Stories of courage, unity and resilience.  We are born and raised to fight for what is right.  To fight for our people.  Songs of encouragement thundering through the hills as we remember and honor those who fought for us, so that we can do the same.  The same government, same churches, same families who were complacent in our oppression are the same that are in power today.  

Winter '17 - Wounded Knee, SD

Winter '17 - Wounded Knee, SD

Oglala; Scatters Their Own

They say that Lakota people have so much animosity towards one another that they can no longer live near each other.  To some extent I find this to be true.  There are people who have relatives living on opposite ends of the reservation that don't know the other.  Blood feuds that go back decades, even centuries.  On the other hand, we are also very compassionate towards one another.  When it comes down to it, we can really come together and show more love than some of people will ever see.  


Through the massacres, the shootouts, the poverty, the trauma, we are still here.  The young people of Turtle Island are standing silent no more.  No longer accepting a fate given to us by our oppressors.  One of my favorite quotes came from a conversation that I had with Delores Huerta. She told me, “The youth have always been the prophets of society.”  At this point in history I have never found this to be more true.  We are the 7th Generation.


More people join our cause everyday.  People of all nations defending sacred water and mother earth.  There’s room for everyone in this movement, just know your lane.  Know where you belong, know your strengths.  Be 150% sure of what you are in this for.  Take care of yourself.

Summer '17 - Rosebud, SD

Summer '17 - Rosebud, SD

In our conquest for freedom, there is one thing that we need to remember, if we are burning it down, we don’t need ‘allies', we need accomplices.  Stand With No Fear.

Mitakuye Oyasin - All My Relations

About Terrell

Terrell Catt Iron Shell is a Founder of the International Indigenous Youth Council (spending over six months in Standing Rock).  Terrell was raised in a strong AIM (American Indian Movement) family that has continued to fight land, water and social injustices for decades. He continues his work with the IIYC, volunteering as the organization's Spiritual Guide to ensure the IIYC keeps a strong spiritual presence in everything we do.  Terrell is from the Oyuhpe Band of the Oglala Lakota Oyate, which has invested him in the fight against the Keystone XL Pipeline