mitakuye oyasin Deep Thoughts J

Deep Thoughts
Notes from the underground by Communications Director Constance Walter
Monday, June 1, 2015
‘We are all mitakuye oyasin’
ace DeCory begins each day by acknowledging her elders. “They are our
first teachers—parents and grandparents,
all those elders who have been an influence
in our lives. You need to acknowledge
them and embrace them,” said the
Assistant Professor of American Indian
Studies at Black Hills State University.
A Lakota who is registered with the
Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation,
DeCory was at Sanford Lab Friday
talking about “Building Cultural Bridges.”
The Black Hills, or He Sapa as they are
traditionally called, are sacred to the
Lakota. “They are the heart of everything
for the Lakota people. The heart of all that
is,” she said.
She talked about how we are all related,
even if we are not family. “You may not
be from the Buffalo People, but you are
my relatives.” And as relatives, DeCory
believes we have a responsibility to be
caretakers of the Black Hills. “We have
to make sure the earth is protected and
not overwhelmed”, she said. “Scientists
get that. People who work with the earth
get that. We don’t want to desecrate the
environment because we want to live.
And we want the next seven generations
of humankind to live without suffering.”
Even as she recognized the strong
feelings all cultures who live here have
for the Black Hills, DeCory didn’t shy
away from controversy. In 1868, the
Fort Laramie Treaty ceded 60 million
acres of land, including all of the Black
Hills, to the Lakota. But when gold was
discovered, the government seized the
land. Prospectors and settlers streamed
into the area and in 1876, the Homestake
Mine was born. Over 126 years, more
than 41 million ounces of gold and 9
million ounces of silver were pulled from
the ground.
Tribes fought the U.S. Government
for decades over the land. In 1980, the
Supreme Court finally agreed with the
Lakota, saying the land had been taken
Left: Jace DeCory lights sweetgrass for a
smudging ceremony. Above: K.C. Russell
offers the sweetgrass to Constance Walter.
The smoke is breathed in and over the body to
dispel negative energy.
wrongfully and the tribes were awarded
$102 million in compensation. The money
has never been collected and today the
trust is valued at $1.3 billion.
When the idea of turning the closed
mine into an underground laboratory surfaced, DeCory said there were many who
believed it would be further desecration
of the land. “There are as many opinions
as there are people,” she said. “I believe
that since it is already dug out, we should
make something positive out of it.”
DeCory ended her presentation with a
South Dakota Science and Technology Authority
smudging, a practice that uses burning
sage or sweet grass to release negative energy and thoughts. As she moved through
the room, she reminded participants again
that we are all “mitakuye oyasin”—relatives. “That means more than just human
relatives. We are all related to that
which is on Earth—rocks, bugs, trees.
Everything in the universe.”
Eye on Safety: Protect your hands
from injury
• Ensure that hazards are identified
and proper controls added.
• Ensure machines are properly
guarded when used.
• Ensure that hazardous energy is
removed from equipment before
work begins.
• Keep hands clear of moving parts,
pinch points and sharp edges.
• Wear the proper gloves for
Lead, South Dakota