Come and Take a Walk with Me

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Come and Take a Walk with Me

               Finally, I bent over and picked a sprig of sage – whose ancestors in 1890 had                    been nourished by the blood of Red babies, ripped from their mothers dying                      grasp and bayonetted by the evil ones – As I washed myself with that sacred                      herb I became cold in my determination and cleansed of fear. I looked for Big                    Foot and YellowBird in the darkness and I said aloud —

               ”We are back my relations, we are home”. Hoka-Hey

                    –Carter Camp: Remembering Wounded Knee

On Feburary 27th, 2014 I was on Pine Ridge reservation for, Liberation Day, the anniversary of the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee. This was the 41st anniversary of the occupation and I stood outside of the Wounded Knee district school, holding a flyer for today’s“Four Directions Walk.” I stood with the northern part of the four directions. Three other walks from the east, west, and south were going to meet at Wounded Knee, the site of both the massacre of 1890 and the Occupation of 1973. I checked my GPS, “ten miles to Wounded Knee.” I stared at my feet. A member of the To’kala warrior society saw me staring at my brown hiking boots and suggested I bring a vehicle for our media team to rotate out of during the walk. The warrior walked off and joined other members of the warrior society. The men and women in camouflage talked amongst themselves, then spread out around the edges of the gathering people. I worried I’d be out of place with a vehicle, but saw a long convoy of cars,vans and trucks lining up behind everyone preparing for the walk. An elderly man pushed a walker between the children and teenagers gathered in front of the cars. The old man looked south towards Wounded Knee, placed the tennis balled walker in front of him, and pulled himself towards the site of the occupation. The school doors opened and children raced out and joined the walkers. A yellow school bus lined up in the convoy.

Some of the children ran onto the bus, then out, and took their place at the front of the walk, holding  flags and staffs as they led us south to Wounded Knee.

Liberation Day

We walked BIA road 28 and Vic Camp, an organizer for the event, walked beside me wearing a brown shirt with seven ribbons streaming in the wind, he pointed at the hills flanking the road. “My father lead the first warriors along these hills. We’re walking the way they first went in ’73.” I looked at the ridge of hills that flanked the road, and tried to imagine myself in that AIM and Ogala Lakota war party. “Is your father here?” I asked. Vic looked south and said that this was the first year his father wasn’t with them.

We walked a bit and I asked, “Why didn’t you call this a march? It says four directions walk on the flyer.”

“We’re not marching,” he said. “Today we walk. We walk together in prayer for those lost in 1890, and walk with our heads raised because of the occupation of ’73. We’re walking slowly with our families and children in prayer.”

We walked, and after five miles I’d already switched out of our media vehicle twice, but the kids in the front held their flags and staffs steady as they led the way. Vic walked beside me and looked towards the hills.

“This year’s different.” he said.

“What’s different?”

The colored flags snapped over the children.

Liberation Day

“They’re leading us now. The children are the ones taking the flags and leading our people back to Wounded Knee.”

He wiped a hand across his face.

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