The colder part of the year is now upon us. The Big Foot riders have finished their journey and hunters have eased back on the hunting trail. It is still a time of the Lakota wintered up. Hunting seasons gets shorter each year as more and more regulations are made up. Horse nation becomes a separate, traditionally structured, leadership - a true following of long ago. It is always great to be ready for winter by doing things like cutting our wood in the fall. Somehow we all still end up doing it at the last minute and our supply never really makes it through the tough Lakota winter.
It is also good to prepare for the whole year by the gathering of game meats, berries and drying and storing. This is a way that also is still here today. The sound of it all will draw close eyes on our real focus, that of our Oyate. However, what is the most important: our immediate Tiospaye. Everyone has to really be watching out for all the people but when it comes down to a life-threatening situation it’s our immediate Tiospaye that we guard and protect with our lives. A simple way to say it all is; winter is still here and it is best to be prepared. After a look at the Super Storm Sandy in New York State the conclusion can be drawn that we are in a new world era of super storm possibilities. It could happen again as in 2008 when we got close to 3 foot of snow on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation and that was an example of what a super snow storm is. Many tribal members were without power for days.
The hard winter can at times fool you, as nicer temperatures come back and spring appears to be just around the corner, and it is but it isn’t over till it’s over in South Dakota. The cold air is still here and the people do know about the ONE Spirit wood program. Tonight I was at the garage and as the evening air came on so did the cold temps. It was like wow, soon as that sun went down it got instantly cold. Here starts my phone ringing in my pocket. It was a friend of ONE Spirit, Delbert, and he is a joker of a guy. Delbert is from Porcupine and he lives in a poor situation, and tonight they had no wood. Tonight he was not joking I could tell by the sound of his voice, so I asked what was up and where he was and he said “We’re coming by Wounded Knee towards Pine Ridge” and “We got no wood for the night”. I told him to stop by the garage and we could help him out. Delbert backed into the garage and we loaded wood in the back of his jeep. It was about enough for two nights but that was all he could hold. He came unexpected or I could have taken him some more wood with the new truck. However, he was happy he scored some for the night.
I have no satellite TV and the weather channel is where I get all my weather updates. However, sometimes I forget and next thing I know there’s a storm right on top of us. I have a way of somehow still being aware of the weather in the winter here. When you see the stores packed and it’s not EBT day or the first of the month there’s something coming with the weather. In a rural community everyone panics shops. By that I mean, they all rush to the stores and start stocking up. This panic stock up is all junk food, too. I actually talked to a store cashier and she told me this. We can be in our houses for 3-4 days and after a big one it's tough getting around. It’s the winter life style that is here. The harshest winter nights are what can make the toughest Lakota men and women stay indoors during this time of the year.
Story by Bamm Brewer