Inaccurate Depictions of American Indian Culture

I am grateful to each of you, our brothers and sisters, for visiting the Rankokus Indian Reservation web site. We are grateful to the Creator for our health, for our friendship, for all the springtime gifts of the Creation which sustain our lives

We have some serious talking to do, and I am happy it is between friends, since that will help us to understand each other.

When we first met each other hundreds of years ago, we had an opportunity to work together to make this a place where our grandchildren would have prosperity and peace

We did not work together - our contributions and advice were ignored. We were told that what we had to offer was pagan, uncivilized, the Devil's work. We were called ignorant and incompetent.

There is a difficulty in you contemplating the way things were at this time in our mutual history. Your history, your education, have encouraged you to believe that your ancestors at this time were living in castles, enjoying great freedom, wearing fine garments, surrounded by European technology. You were not taught facts which are proven, but not readily available.

While your ancestors thought the earth was flat, ours had elaborate calendars, which predicted eclipses, sophisticated knowledge of pharmaceuticals, advanced agricultural methods - remember who are what at the first Thanksgiving?

Granted, as our resources have become overextended by colonization, as we are pushed aside into marginal existence, as our libraries were burned and our educators killed and imprisoned, we were reduced to a state of poverty which characterizes the lives of too many American Indians still today. At that point, someone took a snapshot of us, and this is the image which continues to be propagated through your educational systems still today. You will see us in museums, on television, living as we did in the 19th Century.

You will rarely consider that we made significant contributions to the world in terms of our agricultural technologies, which gave us potatoes, corm, beans, chocolate, peanuts, and, dozens of other crops, or our contribution to modern pharmacology. You will rarely see us portrayed as cotemporary people, still ready and able to make a contribution to American life.

In the meantime, you see your ancestors portrayed as kings and queens, knights and ladies, never as humble country people living in grass-thatched huts, dressed in crudely worn garments, unschooled and in poor health - but like our people, decent and hard-working families trying to survive under a cruel system of royal feudalism. Why do they hide that snapshot of your people and hold another one for you to believe was your past? And why do they propagate the 1810 snapshot of ours, and encourage you to believe that is our present?

I hope you think about this during your visit here today and after you leave this site.

There is another thing I would like you to think about, and that is the difference between our technology and ourselves and our values. You tend to describe yourselves in terms of materialistic technology. Progress, you say, is sending someone to the moon, or developing new plastics or ultraspeed computers. That is natural for a society immersed in materialism.

Yet if I ask you how your society has progressed as far as human beings, to tell me of advances you have made in improving families, relationships with neighbors at home and abroad, in finding alternatives to incarceration and poverty, you might find it difficult to answer.

We do not define ourselves according to out technology. We do want to be known for our values, the way we treat each other ,the way we resolve issues and deal with problems, the way we govern ourselves.

We still have that opportunity to put the best of our worlds together to make a better life for your grandchildren and our grandchildren.

I would like to think that this is the objective of your visit here today. Thank you for listening to my words.

Chief Roy Crazy Horse