Sitting here thinking after I wrote my poems, Prayer and Indian Youth, I am reminded how good I have it. I am mostly white with some Lakota blood in me. I was raised on a farm in the middle of Illinois. Times were sometimes very hard and at times food was a little on the "not quite so plentiful" side. But we always had food and all the necessities of life.

We were taught and we believed in the goodness of mankind. The freedom of our nation was one that was much "touted and admired". So what went wrong? One of our basic freedoms, that men fought and died for, was the freedom to practice and worship our God as we wished. Why haven't we afforded this right to all that live within the Great United States? Why did we take away the First Americans right of religion when and where they wish to practice their sacred ceremonies?
Do we really have that right to restrict them to a timetable?

It is sad that these proud and honorable, yes I say honorable, people were made to live in reservations that ,even today, are not capable of sustaining the life we outside the reservations know. Our great farmed lands offering up bounties of fruitful crops. Instead we kept or try to keep them reliant on our goodness of heart. "Poor ignorant Indians.. here is some more food". In return we took away your children and taught them the things they needed to know (well what the whiteman thought they should know). What right did we have? None that I can see. For if we presumed to say for ourselves we have the right to practice our religion as we wish, then so did the Indian peoples.

It is sad that these noble people who were willing to treat honestly with the "white man" have been dishonored through no fault of their own, but through the treachery of "white" bureaucracy. We took away their homes forcing them onto reservations, we took away their children , forcing them to learn our religions - for their own good of course - we took away their spiritual beliefs, and lastly we took away their most sacred of places of worship.

Let them have their sacred land back , it is theirs by rights of Treaties drawn up by the United States of America. How can we be held up in such great esteem as a good and honest nation when we continuosly do not keep our words to a people that were here and are the indigenous people of this great land of ours. For should we not afford to them the same inalienable rights we demand for ourselves? It is time to set the record straight and give back to them what is theirs by law.

These are only my feelings on this matter. In no way do I disrespect any one nation or race. I just believe that Justice should be served. If it is true for us to be able to hold our religious ceremonies when ever we wish and where we wish, why is not not true for these proud and spiritual people. Why do they still need to get a permit to hold their ceremonies on the place their people have held them for centuries before white mans coming to this land. Just because they worship God in a different manner is no reason to call them pagans or satanists and persecute them for their way of worship. (Yes, it is still done in this day of enlightment.) They have the belief that all are related. We are all relation. It doesn't make their way of worship wrong, just because it is different then other religious worships. In the bible it says - "Judge not lest ye be judged also." Let's take this and remember it the next time we judge others for their religious beliefs.

This is all I am going to say on this matter. Thank you for allowing me my rights to speak my mind on this matter. God Bless. Blessed Be. May the Great Spirit guide your moccasins on the right path. Three ways of saying the same thing. May the one God/Creator watch over you and guide your hearts in this matter.. Jan Tallevast