I really found the Commonwealth mapping exercise helpful in understanding where my community is at and where it can be improved. Living on the reservation, it’s easy to get bogged down in what the weaknesses are on the Rosebud. But going through each individual asset helped me understand where we are actually at.
A few assets I personally see the most in my community are History, Nature & Wildlife, and Spirituality. The Rosebud reservation I think is particularly unique in these areas from the rest of the world.
History plays a huge part in our community. Not only are we unfortunately living with the negative impacts of our history still in our community, but families are still keeping the positive aspects of the history of our people alive and well. Our history isn’t necessarily preserved in written form or through our education system, but through oral histories passed down through families. It wasn’t in school that I learned about the Dakota and Lakota wars, but through oral history passed down of my family’s involvement in them. This isn’t unique to just my family, each and every one of us has this kind of oral history. Not only is this the case, but the local tribal college, Sinte Gleska University, plays a great part in preserving our history. They offer many classes on our history and culture that anyone in the community is welcome to take.
Nature and Wildlife are in abundance here as well. We are a rural community, so it’s not uncommon to see many wild animals relatively undisturbed. There are many places on the reservation where someone can see wildlife and nature without encountering another human being. Our area is a great place to go hiking and explore. It’s also not uncommon to see a deer in town or right outside of town.
This summer is one of the most important times for ceremonies for our people. Along with many pow wows, we are also having sundances around this time of year. While I have not attended any myself, I know many who have taken part or observed. It’s a profound part of many people’s lives here. It allows not just healing for people, but it celebrates life and culture. It’s quite powerful to me, as it shows just how resilient our people are. It isn’t just the summer where spirituality plays a big part in lives. Many families keep aspects of our old ways present in their modern practices. People still participate in ceremony, sweats, and smudging.
As I said before, I appreciated the exercise as it allowed me to reflect on my community and find aspects of hope as well as areas to improve in.