Monday, February 15, 2010

More Than Just letters

(Originally posted on my writing site on Jan 27, 2010)


Tiwahe Wica Yu Wita Win

I've been thinking lately of my Lakota name. I always want to put it on things like my phone, but never can, because the character allowance, is not long enough. it stops at Wit. If I type it in with no spaces, it will stop at: tiwahewichayuwitawi. Which, I guess might be OK. But I know better. It could be seen as acceptable as the shortened version of Win, or properly, Winyan.

I say I know better, because I do. I was taught the proper way to use my Language and why we need to use it that way. Even though, as the days go by, this concept seems to be slipping away with the ozone.
An elder of mine and I have had many discussions on how our culture has become what I call the 7-11 culture. Easy, fast, instant gratification. (I could post once a day everyday for the next year on THAT alone.) This isn't right. Our culture has always had its very own language and rules for the language, reasons for WHY words are the way they are. As an alumni of Sinte Gleska University, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, be for, use first, and defend (adamantly, if need be), our "true" language. The language that was put into print because of Albert White Hat.
Back to my name. Now, the proper word for Woman, is Winyan. Over time it has been acceptable to use Win. However, to use Wi, is shortening it for mere convenience, the word Wi has it's own meaning namely, the sun.

Knowing that, I refuse to perpetuate the convenience of my culture; I will not allow my name to be bastardized and shortened to Wi. First of all, my name is sacred, in the sense that it was given to me by my father, it was picked especially for me, and(to my foremost knowledge,) it is directly and correctly translated as is, without any adjustments needing to be made. Meaning, he did not have to come up with a Lakota translation for an English word.
I am VERY proud of my name. It envelops completely, my journey home and all the stepping stones that were put in place on that journey. It gave me goosebumps when I received it, because I knew what it meant, and flashed on a few specific times in my life when these events had happened. In a life so far away, and so foreign from the people whose blood flowed through my veins. It was another confirmation that the spirits had kept their hands in my life, and I had not been tossed carelessly to the greater world beyond.

I, by no means, am a fluent speaker, but I'm a constant student, as are most people,even in the English language. But this is what I know. I AM a Lakota Winyan, I am an Ina, a member of the Sicangu Nation, and therefore, it is my duty to not let our language get bastardized by the wasicu "scholars" who want to make money off of it, and who, by the way DO NOT send one penny of that money back here to our tribe, our university OR our reservation. Nor can I allow it to drift away on the morning mist. I know that once it's gone, it's gone for good. And then we will be no better than, common mainstream Americans who once had a culture, but don't know much about it now.
Had I not returned home, I'd have been a Indian with no tribe, no language, no pride. But I have returned, I have taken my place in the hoop, and now I have this gorgeous daughter who speaks the language, knows her culture. She will grow up with the ceremonies, the traditions, the everyday, this is just what we do, because this is who we are. She, will not know any different. As it should be. You cannot live your culture when it's "cool","fun" or easy. If you are living as you should be, it will rarely be easy.
We have had far too many generations of soul-wounded, displaced, lost children who gravitate and latch onto any form of connection... (I.E, gangs). The time for that is over. We must do our parts to re instill the culture in ourselves, our lives, our children, our tribe. Do we have the answers to EVERYTHING? No. But that is what our tiwahe, tiyospaye and oyate, is for.

PS: I purposely did not translate my name. Maybe on a another day

2 comments:

Maria said...

Keep up the good work! The world will not be as wonderful and diverse without all different languages. Too many have vanished already. It's tragic because with the language comes a different view of the world and different ways of expressing yourself. Your Lakota language is beautiful.

emilylovescookies.blogspot.com said...

Thank you for sharing your insights. Whenever I read your blog, I feel like I am being given a wonderful opportunity, to look, even if for just a moment, through a window at your family's life and culture. It is a great priveledge.

I completely agree with you on the importance of perserving your language and culture. As a Jewish woman, I watch somewhat helplessly at the assimilation and watering down of our culutre here in the states.

However, I know it is not impossible to reliven a once lost custom or language. Hebrew was once considered a near extinct language but in recent years has experienced a renissance.