By Kellie Backman
Today was our day to conduct sports physicals in the Little Wound School in Kyle. Since this is only a 10 minute drive, we were able to sleep a bit longer, which was welcome. We have melded well as a team and our set-up process is swift. We were all set and prepared to be busy, but the number of students were low. All of us having embraced the key attitude for a successful endeavor, flexibility, we continued our opportunities to better understand the culture and heritage of the people we are here to work with and learn from. We visited the Oglala Lakota College, information center and bookstore. It was very impressive to hear about the array of opportunities for the Lakota to pursue higher education close to home, and then be able to provide needed services for their community.
Each day I have tried to identify at least one “aha” moment of understanding. There have been many more each day, but today’s are boiled down to two:
- The Medicine Wheel/Sacred Circle is represented everywhere and in many different modes. It might be an image on the wall, a rug on the floor, or the shape of the gymnasium, but it’s image and symbolism is never long out of site.
- The value of being attentive to your family and community is clearly an expectation and there are many efforts directed at upholding and supporting this. Are the families here better or worse than any where else? I’m not sure. But the importance of it being an expectation of being a community member is much more visible and more often addressed than I have witnessed elsewhere. The commitment to build a positive future is strong and vibrant.
Our day started and ended gently. We got back to our “home” with hours to spare. Four ventured back to the badlands to climb Jacobs Ladder and hike. The others stayed back at the ranch and walked, rested, read, and our fearless leader did her paperwork.
The time to just sit outside a bit and ponder these observations brought joy to my heart, and being here in this ruggedly beautiful land cannot help but create a peacefulness as well. I will end by sharing a little song I learned as a camper at age 12. It reminds me of here . . .
“We who are born in country places
Far from the city and shifting faces.
We have a birthright no man can sell
and a secret joy no man can tell.”