by Terrell Catt Iron Shell
“The youth have always been the prophets of society.” - Dolores Huerta
Micunksi (My Daughter),
I have watched you grow from an infant to the happy little five year old you are now. I am very fortunate to have you in my life and I thank creator that you chose me to be your father. I promise to always do whatever I can when it comes to your happiness and well-being. I will always protect you from the things in this life that I can. For those that I can't, I promise to help you to understand and to grow stronger from any situation. The world we are living in is ever changing but the lessons we learn remain for generations. I pray that you never have to see the ugly underbelly of this machine called America. Unfortunately we aren't so privileged, this is the white man's world where white is portrayed as “pure” and toxic masculinity is rampant. Brown is beautiful, and women are sacred. One day our women will no longer fear to walk the streets alone and they will no longer take the abuse from friends and relatives. I am writing this letter in the hopes that you will never let anybody tell you what you can and can't do, whether it's with your body or your mind or your spirit. Remember who you are! You are an indigenous women, destined to be a strong matriarch and warrior for your oyaté and unci maka.
The months that you spent with me in Standing Rock will live with you forever, the prayers songs and love are forever etched into your DNA. I remember walking through camp with you listening to you sing “Get Up, Stand Up” on my shoulders, you were only three then. We have many, many things in this life to be grateful for but none as important as the freedom we have as indigenous people. Our grandpa’s fought in the indian wars and in wounded knee so that we could be free to be us. Most americans today don’t know the true feeling of freedom, they only know the illusion of freedom. Our ancestors were born free even died so that we could live the same way, so we honor them by carrying on this way of life. It’s said that when the spirits look upon you they see into your soul, they see the the good things you’ve done. So know that not matter how scary things may seem, if your doing the right thing you will always have your ancestors behind you.
Women bear the burden of creating life and sustaining that life, building the foundation for our communities. When our beliefs were outlawed it is the women who kept our ceremonies alive. It’s not our way to abuse or degrade the backbone of society. This abuse is the direct result of the churches and state policy. Our relatives were forced out of the family setting and into the boarding schools, this was an intentional attack on the foundation of our culture. To “kill the Indian and save the man”. Meant to assimilate us into American life, confuse us and make us forget who we are. We learned how to laterally oppress ourselves, becoming toxic to our society. As a man and as a father it is my responsibility to protect our women, children and elders the way the buffalo do, keeping them in the middle of our circle forming a shield to protect them. In these hard times it is essential for us to be good relatives to each other. We have to show compassion and empathy towards each other. We are Oglala or “scatters their own”. We are mean and like to live on our own but we also have a very, very tight bond and will come together in a good way in the worst of times. We can't always choos our families, but we still love them with all we have. As Lakota people we all have roles to play, in the family, community and the nation as a whole. It may seem out of date but we have traditional protocol to follow. That means take care of our families and communities and know when to speak and when to listen, but don't ever let yourself be silenced or disrespected. Just as it's important to be Lakota it is equally as important to be yourself. Make your own choices and be happy for Riot; love yourself.
Words cannot express how I feel about you! Know that I will always support you, your happiness is my happiness. Remember that this is the white man's world, so walk like you're six feet tall and bulletproof because you have your nation and your ancestors walking right next to you. You will help to change the world, you are the future!
With all the love in the world,