28 July 2021
Deecolonized Un-Tour: Chief Plentiwolf
“Spirituality, ceremony is our core, our center,” said Chief Plentywolf, an indigenous elder who just finished the annual Sundance ceremony, which is a ceremony where native people gather for prayer and sacrifice of sweat and pain. We came days after to talk to Chief Plentywolf at the invitation of Cynthia, one of our solidarity family. The solidarity family are people with race and class privilege who we teach why they need to give reparations. After a hearty lunch with Chief Plentywolf, Cynthia, her husband Tom and all of us multi-generational, multi-racial poverty skolas who came on this tour, we went out to the site of the Sundance Ceremony.
It felt as if the land was welcoming us. One, solitary tree stood in the middle of a grassy field, covered with flags from many indigenous nations. We were told not to take pictures of that tree, and I had no objections. There was little to no wind, and the sun beat down on us, but we were surrounded with trees that wove together like a basket, the leaves from each individual tree coming together to form one continuous growth. We walked over to a small clearing next to a dirt road that slopes up and curves around a bend. In that meadow stood a Teepee, the fabric stretched taut over the supporting posts.
“We pray every time we do something, or every time we prepare and even meetings and talks like this,” Chief Plentywolf continued, his eyes focusing on each one of us at a time, making me feel as if he was looking through me, looking at everything I could ever be. He talked about the difference between a massacre and a battle, saying that when the white settlers slaughtered women, children and elder indigenous people it went down in history as a battle, yet only when the indigenous people fought back and killed many white men was it called a massacre, and when that happened, the government was able to justify in the history books the genocide that they continued to do, with or without the native people fighting back.
Chief Plentywolf ended it by talking about Sundance, and how the youth was actually coming back, and how he was excited for the future of Sundance and prayer as a whole. He talked about a16 year old who was the strongest young warrior he had ever seen, and thanked us for being youth and continuing to work and pray with our elders. We thanked Cynthia once more, and before leaving we visited the sweat lodge that is used in the Sundance Ceremony. I came away from the sacred place having learned so much in a short span of time. I would love to join the Sundance Ceremony sometime in the future, and I'm looking forward to being able to speak with Chief Plentiwolf again, to learn a small part of the vast amount of knowledge he has.