The Meadowlark

“The Power and the Ways are given to us to be passed on to others. To think anything else is pure selfishness. We get more by giving them away, and if we do not give them away, we lose them.”

Chief Frank Fools Crow (Mails 2001:11)
as quoted by Suzanne Owens in
The Appropriation of Native American Spirituality

On July 7, 2023 I was on Pine Ridge and had a conversation with Wagli Yohi’s successor as Nacha. We talked about where the LKS might go, and what it might do now that it has been disavowed. It was a good and blessing talk, and it has been written up by the Headman and shared here.

As we move forward into our next iteration, I feel compelled to remind us: No bragging, no undue drawing attention to yourself, no charging money. It’s your responsibility to educate others about reciprocal generosity.

Later that afternoon I found myself at the Church of the Mediator, offering thanks at the resting place of Mato Wanbli. I expressed my regret for the events of the past two years, and my regret at not fighting successfully to preserve the lineage and teaching in the Project.

It was a sunny afternoon with a slight breeze out of the northeast and the meadowlarks were singing in the bushes in the graveyard. Standing there, my hand having just left the tombstone, suddenly and very much to my surprise, the closest meadowlark began singing in Lakota.

I do not speak Lakota; I know only a few phrases and some words from sacred songs and prayers. The meadowlark repeated the song several times, allowing me to catch the words. I hurried to my truck and wrote them down.

The words were: “Chich’u Unkiyapo! Chich’u Unkiyapo! Chich’u Unkiyapo!”

I asked someone with a Masters in Lakota to translate. He wrote back: “You all use what I gave to you all,” adding that “po” at the end makes it a command.

I spoke with the Elder woman of the family, and asked her what it meant. She said, “Chich’u means ‘I’m calling you. Unkiyapo means ‘Help us.’”

Both she and the scholar said these are essentially the same. The Elder added, “It means a lot of things.” I will add that Lakota was originally a syllable-based language—each syllable having a meaning, and the syllables strung together to make words that meant what the combination of each syllable meant. And each syllable could have different meanings depending on the context. Even though the words are different they feel, mysteriously, the same to me.

Additionally, the new Chief’s uncle, a Sun Dance leader in Mexico, Guatemala, and Chile, told me that in the early days of the Sun Dance being brought back public, Mato Wanbli would occasionally get out and dance. When he did the meadowlarks would come out and dance with him.

A few days later I sat in ceremony with the chanunpah, and it became clear that doing what we have been given to do will help Them. And then, at the end, I was told, “For now.”

And so, everything we do, we must do it in a Good Way.

I close with one more quote. Black Elk is usually attributed with being the source of the Seven Generations Prophecy in Black Elk Speaks. My opinion is that he is referring to a larger statement, as follows:

“Upon suffering beyond suffering, the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness, and separation. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you, and I am at that place within me, we shall be as one.”

—–Attributed to Crazy Horse, 1877

We are living in the time of the seventh generation.

Truth be told…