The Heart of Everything
have maps of the past. Not a history in the way that most of us understand
history, but places... we can identify with in terms of time and experience.
'Oh, yes,' my grandmother would say, 'yes, we were there, we were there
in the Black Hills
at one time. We know about Zoei, Devils
Tower.' And she said it, you know, as if she had been there. And I
think that in her mind's eye, it was, it was there and very clearly defined."
The arrival of the horse in the early 1700s had allowed the Kiowas to migrate eastward from the Rocky Mountains out onto the Great Plains. They claimed as their own the best winter hunting grounds, the Black Hills, and its landmarks became part of their religion. But by the early 1800s, new people had arrived from the east, challenging the Kiowas for the Black Hills. They were the Cheyenne. And behind them came the Lakota -- known by whites as the Sioux.
Black Hills have around them in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
century this incredible swirl of people. People fighting, contesting for
buffalo grounds. And the driving figures in all this are always going
to be the Lakotas. The Lakotas are pushing other people out, the Lakotas
are spreading west after the herds, the Lakotas are the people in motion.
The Lakotas weren't always there, but they make the Black Hills the center
of their world."
"Our name for the Black Hills is Wahmunka Oganunka Inchante. Inchante is 'the heart of.' Wahmunka Oganunka I translate 'the heart of everything that is,' everything material, everything spiritual. It is the center of the universe.
were a warrior society, and that's very much a part of our culture. We
have an expression that whoever didn't fear us, hated us, and we took
great pride in the fact that everyone either hated us or feared us. The
Cree people in their stories would say, 'When the Crow were coming to
fight, we sent our little boys to fight. When the Mandan were coming,
we sent the old men. When the Sioux were coming, we painted our faces
for death and prepared to die.'"
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