Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
February 26, 2000 - Issue 04

Brain Food-Teaching Safety
By Lazorleter
photos courtesy Jamie Lockard

When I think about the youth of today, I thank Creator that I am not facing what they face. I come from a time, when the lines of right and wrong and good and evil were clearly marked. A time when staying outside on a summer night to catch fire flies or play hide-go-seek carried no danger. A time when trust in my teacher was assumed. A time when it was no big deal to walk to the neighborhood store to spend my allowance. A time when my curfew was to be judged by the time the street lights came on. Such simple things, seem very special in the wake of today.

Our young, are forced into needing wisdom beyond their years. Trust, simplicity, and safety are no longer part of their lives. These words have become dormant. Our youth must be taught to form a hard crust around themselves. A crust of protection. It is their only hope of existence. This crust must be a strong one. One that will protect them from so many things that bombard their very safety.

However this crust has its cost. For you see, we parents have not figured out how to help form this crust and still allow the soft wonders of Creator to seep through. Those wonders that are all around free for the taking. How do we parents turn our babies into turtles? How do we teach them when to duck into their crusts? Its a hard thing. As my generation fades from this earth, I find that the new generation is caught in an almost hopeless battle. This new generation does not come from the time of catching fire flies, and tends to lack softness to pass on. And my generation lacks enough crust to insure safety. It seems to be a time of learning for the whole world.

Native American children face all these things and more. They have the heavy burden of saving an entire race, culture, and way of life. Their blood has been robbed of purity. Their role models are distant and few. Their culture has been scrambled in the need to maintain in what is now. And their "source pool of knowledge" is fading quickly.

Yes, my friends, to be an Indian child today is a heavy burden indeed. However, it is not to late. The Native American culture is still alive. Its heart beats strong. Its teachings are still alive in that heart beat. Parents of Indian children still have access to that "source pool." It is up to us to lead our children to the pool. To arm them with the weapons of honor, culture, respect, tradition, pride and education. Allow our babies to form an outside crust, but implant in their soul who they are, where they came from, and why they must learn these things. Whisper stories of long ago in their ears, show them the reasons that sacred items are sacred. Take them to POW WOWS, sweats, and ceremonies. Have them spend time with an elder, show them how to pick sage, feed them fry bread and wild rice and charge them with the responsibility of preserving these things. Stress to them, the importance of educating themselves, not only with their heritage, but in school.

I believe that the combination of these things will keep us all alive forever. Send out into this crazy world an Indian armed with knowledge of both worlds. Don't let them lose who or what they are, but instead teach them how to be Indian in a non Indian world. Its the least we can do.

Peace Laz

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