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Five narratives will decide tribal future

There are five narratives in play whenever tribal people interact with the colonizing power that took over this continent. These narratives often intertwine but for the most part we can scrutinize them individually.

The Spiritual Narrative

How much of the Wasicu social structure runs contrary to traditional Lakota spirituality? There has been a lot of pressure on Lakota people to accept the Wasicu concept of a creative entity they call God. The creative power in Lakota belief is not a figurehead personality, but a mystery, the Great Mysterious. Over the years, Tunkashila, Grandfather, has come to serve as a figurehead personality despite the fact that historically he did not head up such a pantheon. By and large, tribes have worked out these conflicts and people have hybrid belief systems that honor both the Wasicu and Lakota perspective. However, Lakota are quick to apply spirituality to public tribal matters in a way that would violate the Wasicu Bill of Rights.

The Social Narrative

The traditional Lakota tiospaye numbered around 300 persons, and was managed by a matriarchal sister wife network. Every person you knew, knew every person you knew. There were no strangers. Once the Lakota were confined to cubbyhole reservations, this social structure was dismantled. Polygamy and shunning were outlawed. Men were forced to keep only one wife, destroying the family structure. Shunning was a powerful nonviolent tool to control negative behavior. Even the strongest warrior caved in and cleaned up his act after a week or so of being shunned by every person in the tiospaye. Now there is no way for shunning to work even if it was allowed, because we live in a much larger world chock full of strangers, and because the Wasicu sees shunning as an expression of an inferior culture.

The Political Narrative

Tribal governance is structured along Wasicu lines. Every Lakota tribal government is a mini-reflection of what prevails in Washington, and is similarly corrupted, and exasperatingly unresponsive to the concerns of tribal members. Closed door executive sessions keep the tribal members from transparent understandings of council decisions and operations. This festers a secretive world of corrupt scheming and well intentioned misunderstanding forced by a lack of knowledge.

Outside tribal government, tribes misread the political climate and buy the contrived narratives peddled by main stream media they would do well to earnestly mistrust given the history of deception directed at tribes by government policy. Tribes are better off not involving themselves too deeply in the two-party system, where both sides over many decades have proven to be hostile to tribal interest.

The Historical Narrative

The Wasicu has one story about how great this country is that largely ignores slavery and genocide and a foreign policy of imperialist exploitation. A grass roots movement, backed by our governor, is underway to erase this historical shame under the guise they are promoting patriotism and unity. Tribes would do well to dig into what records can be verified to construct a raw and truthful history, that doesn’t whitewash the Wasicu transgressions, and doesn’t romantically sugar coat tribal actions and tribal identity.

The Science Narrative

Tribes are quick to embrace the technology of science, but balk at the deeper spiritual, cultural and historical implications. Science that gives the internet is great, but science that challenges our creation myths is bad. Science that gives us cars and microwaves, good, but science that asserts we all originally came from Africa, bad.

As the century plays out, how tribes deal with these five narratives will determine how well we deal with the century.


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