United Tribes News

Student Essay
Give Reach
15 March 2005
by Mary M. End Of Horn
Editor's note: The following was written in December 2004 for Sociology 150, Culture and Diversity in Education. Helping students focus on their heritage, Instructor Lisa Azure assigned them to research their family through six generations and write an essay about "the influence of their family on who they are as a person."

      My name is Sag'ye Luta Wi. I am Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I greet you with a humble heart. I am a known to be a leader in my family and that's what my name means: Red Nation Leans On Women.

      This name comes from my great-great grandmother; I carry it with great respect and intend to fulfill its meaning with honor.

      My immediate family consists of three people: my father Lynes End Of Horn, brother Stoney, and me. My family is part of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, which includes the Sioux clans: Mnicoujou (Plants by the Water), O'Ohenumpa (Two Kettle or Two Boilings), Itazipco or Itazipi Cola (Without Bows), Sihasapa (Blackfoot), Oglala (Scatters Their Own), Sicangu (Burnt Thigh), and Hunkpapa (Camps at the Entrance).

      The End Of Horn's are Hunkpapa, guardians of the camp entrance. It was our duty to cry out if an enemy approached, warning the people of danger or announcing visitors. Our name is pronounced Hainkpa (hey-ink-pa) in Lakota.

      Three of my great grandfathers were among the group of 38 people hanged in Minnesota in 1862: Lala Hainkpa, Lala Nape Luta, and Lala Bobtail Bear. I'm not sure what really happened but we originally came from the Shakopee, Minnesota area and later migrated to Fort Totten and Cannonball, North Dakota and finally settled in the small reservation village of Wakpala, South Dakota along Oak Creek on Standing Rock.

      Today my family lives in this area, although a few of my relatives have moved away. This is no surprise. Many Native Americans leave the reservation seeking jobs and a better life.

      I made a promise that I would get an education and return to help educate the younger generation. They deserve a better future. They deserve to be protected from those who would take away the land my ancestors fought and died for.

      One of those was my great grandfather Lala Piza, known as Gall, who defeated George Custer at the Greasy Grass in 1876 and captured the flag of the Seventh Cavalry. This flag has 37 stars representing the number of states at that time. I don't know if the flag is official but my father has a replica. We hold this object with great respect because it represents the justice rendered by Native Americans on a man who brutally massacred women and children in his military career.

      Throughout my life I was taught the value of Lakota Spirituality. Although I was sent to boarding school, that did not stop me from practicing my Lakota traditions. I learned about the seven sacred ceremonies: Making of Relatives, Sweat Lodge, Throwing of the Ball, Vision Quest, Keeping of the Soul, Coming of A Women and the most sacred of all, Sun Dance. I hold these close to my heart; I am a firm believer in my Lakota ways. These are what we have left of our maiden, the White Buffalo Calf Women.

      I believe we need our language to maintain our culture. Language is what connects us to the creator, the great mysterious, Wakan Tanka.

      I was taught the seven Lakota values: respect, generosity, humility, kindness, fortitude, bravery, and wisdom. I have lived these through my life, each day practicing them, asking questions, and learning how to understand and keep them, and watching how other women presented themselves in public. I never had a mother figure in my life so everything I know of women was self-taught with guidance from my father.

      As a little girl, my father taught me a song that I always sing when times are hard. The words are:

Maka si to mni lakota wee cho ka ki.
Otay ki ka lo.
Ate ma Lakota he hek cha.
Le he ne chi ye lo.

      This song says:

All over this world this Lakota way is hard.
But my dad told me to give reach.
And be strong.

      Growing up we always danced our traditional powwow ways, sometimes traveling many miles to meet relatives and friends, and making new friends along the way. Sewing, beading and quillwork were self-taught pleasures I enjoyed. To this day I sometimes do a little artwork but I don't seem to have the patience anymore to sit three or four hours and focus exclusively on my work.

      Culture is my main focus as a Native American. I believe all schools should offer Native American Studies, like they offer foreign languages. It's extremely important to get as much cultural learning in school and at home to avoid having it wiped out by government programs and mainstream life.

      I'm thankful for this wonderful learning experience; I absorbed many new thoughts. One day I will use these reflections to help educate Native American students.

      O he-che tu!