S.D. - Students from local schools peered at a recently-killed
buffalo and waited for the butchering process to begin. Some wanted
to taste the liver, a cultural tradition with the Lakota.
those that stayed long enough to sample the liver -"its
sweet, just a small piece or uh
no thanks" were the
event was the Pte Waste, or Good Buffalo Festival held April 12,
which was organized to educate young students about the importance
of the buffalo in Lakota culture. A two-year-old bull was harvested
from one of the Pine Ridge herds and brought to the Piya Wiconi
Center of the Oglala Lakota College pow wow grounds to undergo traditional
many of you want to eat some of the liver?" asked Jay Red Hawk.
Many hands of the young men from Rockyford went up. However, as
the day progressed and the buffalo was brought in later than expected
most young people had to leave before the liver was extracted. But
as tradition requires, the liver was passed around to the elders
and those who witnessed the activity.
buffalo is the center of the Lakota Universe. Its like the
sun to the planets. The Lakota circle the buffalo," Red Hawk
was the first phase of a two part Pte Waste (Tay Wash-tay) festival.
The first gathering was to take people through a buffalo kill and
ceremony, the second was the learning part. The spirituality of
the buffalo culture was emphasized along with the understanding
of the relationship between the Lakota and the buffalo.
was treated to stories, traditional buffalo preparation, singing,
crafts and arts demonstrations.
one of the festival gave many students a chance to hear from people
who live with and teach traditional values and who have practiced
ancient ways of hunting and work-related activities of the society.
of the young people at the gathering just happened to be studying
the 1868 treaty, the treaty between the Lakota and the federal government
that reduced the Lakota lands to western South Dakota.
you lived a long time ago, you would be riding your horse behind
the men. You would learn to make your bow and arrows - that would
be your school day. You would be a good archer by age 13,"
Red Hawk said. He told the young men they would be encouraged by
the community as they learned how to hunt and ceremonially butcher
son is four-and-a-half years old, and he has used a bow for half
of his life," Red Hawk said.
hawk, while on horseback with a bow he made of Ash and sinew killed
and processed a buffalo using the ancient methods. He said he went
scouting and did a buffalo dance and a pipe ceremony, as was done
hundreds of years before.
this festival day, he used a small, sharp flint stone to start the
butchering process of the young bull by creating a cut just through
the skin of the animal to start removal of the hide.
Bald Eagle wore a dress with accessories that were period correct
for the mid-1800s. Detail such as the pennies at the ends of her
long hair-braids were from 1843. It was traditional to tie the pennies
into the hair, because, as Bald Eagle explained, there was no place
to spend them, "There was no Wal-Mart."
women werent always dressed so fancy, Bald Eagle wore a special
dress used only for ceremony or special occasions. She had all of
her personal possessions attached.
learned about myself in the past eight years. And Im teaching
my daughters that they are beautiful because they are Lakota,"
Bald Eagle said.
had a strong role in society. Bald Eagle explained that women worked
so hard and long they had little time to gossip. It was the women
who assembled the tipis, prepared the buffalo after a kill, made
the clothing and cooked.
were known for their work. They did it with pride and with such
beauty," she said. And when the husband was too successful
as a hunter, and the work was overwhelming his wife would recommend
he take on another wife, the first wifes sister was the one
all worked together, it was not like today. Because you are Lakota,
you have it in you to be a great person," Bald Eagle said.
women were looked upon as sacred because they gave birth to the
children, Red Hawk said.
you love your moms? Do you love your grandmothers?" he asked
the students, who all raised their hands.
are above cool. Grandmas can talk as long as they want because they
have been through life," Red Hawk said.
the buffalo was butchered it was blessed by Dave Bald Eagle, Lakota
elder from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He mentioned in his prayer
that the buffalo and American Indians were kin. "We will be
here together until the end of time.
buffalo will nourish the people back to health," he said.
young people, who were somewhat overwhelmed by all the information
said it was a good day and that they learned a lot.
students said, based on what they learned, they would encourage
their families to eat more buffalo and eat healthier. Out of a group
of seven or eight youth, all said there was diabetes somewhere in
wasnt what we expected. I learned that even the little bones
are used," said one Rockyford student.
as Red Hawk explained to them, one of the students said, "I
learned that we can hunt, because this area is ours." Red Hawk
told them that the treaty of 1851 and 1868 retained the right for
the Lakota to hunt and fish and gather in all of the region.
today, Wal-Mart is the new hunting ground," he said. Clothing,
food, tools and accessories are purchased, not made from buffalo
or available materials on the prairie any more.
can hunt and get real food like antelope, elk, deer and buffalo.
The Lakota owned the prairie. Some tribes gave up on hunting buffalo
because the Lakota were so good. Other tribes were asked why they
wouldnt hunt; they said because the Lakota were there,"
Red Hawk said.
just as a reminder to the students, Red Hawk said the buffalo, which
numbered between 30 and 50 million at one time were reduced to nearly
500, not by American Indians hunting them, but by government orders.
Sheridan said that to exterminate the Indian we must eliminate their
food source, the buffalo."
tribes and private ranchers are breeding buffalo, a natural for
the prairie. Buffalo are good for the prairies, Red Hawk said.
Pte Waste gives students and others a chance to participate in a
traditional activity, listen to the language in prayer and in lectures
and learn by observation and hands-on experience.
times the kids dont understand. Im troubled with some
Indian activities. Like announcers at pow wows who understand the
dances and culture but dont think it important enough to explain
them, its concerning to me," said David Bald Eagle.
need to explain in Indian and interpret in English so people will
understand and be interested."
Bald Eagle and other elders the loss of the language is disturbing
and more events such as the Pte Waste Festival will help to alleviate
that, he and Bald Eagle said.
process of mending the hoop is under way with activities such as
the Pte Waste festival. Red Hawk told the students that according
to prophesy the hoop was broken, he said, it was first broken when
humans and animals stopped communicating.
used to speak to animals," he said. The return of the buffalo
to the Lakota is a strengthening of the culture, nations and kinship.
could have been born in China or anywhere, but Tunkasila picked
you to be Lakota, because you are special," Red Hawk told the