It is a rush transcript. Copy is probably not in its remaining type.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Because the coronavirus loss of life toll in the USA passes 410,000 and the vaccine rollout continues shakily throughout the nation, we spend the remainder of the hour wanting on the combat to avoid wasting tribal elders and Native language audio system who’ve been devastated by the virus.
Going through woefully insufficient healthcare, lack of presidency help, and the dwelling legacy of centuries of colonialism, tribal communities have confronted staggering losses as COVID-19 rips via Indian Nation. Native People have died at not less than twice the speed of white individuals throughout the USA. Pillars of tribal communities have been misplaced, together with their data of Native languages. Jason Salsman, a spokesman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, advised The New York Occasions the losses had been akin to a “cultural book-burning.”
To fight this disaster, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has prioritized elders who converse the Dakota and Lakota languages to obtain the COVID vaccine. That is Tribal Well being Director Margaret Gates talking in December.
MARGARET GATES: We had met with Tribal Council, and on the request of management, as properly, we added within the 65 and older and fluent audio system to be kind of first in line, as a result of often they’ll come down within the C, however we’ve bumped them as much as the highest, as a result of they’re our most necessary asset to our tribe and our individuals due to the language.
AMY GOODMAN: For extra on this vital situation, we’re joined by three visitors.
In Bismarck, North Dakota, Jodi Archambault is with us. She’s a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the previous particular assistant to President Obama for Native American affairs for the White Home Home Coverage Council.
In Manderson, South Dakota, Alex White Plume is the previous vice chairman and president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge Reservation. He’s a Lakota interpreter.
And in Standing Rock, North Dakota, Nola Taken Alive is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council. Each of her mother and father not too long ago died of COVID-19. Her father, Standing Rock Sioux elder Jesse “Jay” Taken Alive, was a fluent Lakota speaker and an ardent defender of the language, spoken by solely 2,000 individuals. He was simply 65.
We welcome all of you to Democracy Now! Nola, our condolences on the lack of each of your mother and father. In case you can speak about them with us, share their life tales?
NOLA TAKEN ALIVE: Good morning. Thanks for having me on. It’s my pleasure to talk about my mother and father. However, to begin with, I wish to ship my condolences out to these individuals who have additionally misplaced relations and kin and family members to this ugly virus. But it surely’s my honor, once more, to talk about my mother and father. And I wish to say that my mother and father had been very humble individuals. And to have the ability to talk about them, I’ll attempt to do my finest.
My mother and father — I misplaced my mom in November of 2020. And a few month later, I misplaced our father to the virus, as properly. They performed a vital function not solely in my siblings’ and our household’s lives, but in addition to your entire group of Standing Rock. And, you already know, these would additionally say how necessary my dad’s function had performed in all of Indian Nation and all of in all probability North and South Dakota together with his knowledge, his data of the Lakota language, of treaties, of humanity, simply the human points that my dad would convey to the forefront, particularly about therapeutic. And my dad was the hugest advocate of not solely the significance of being Lakota or understanding who we’re as a individuals and the large losses that we’ve suffered since time immemorial, however, you already know, he continued to imagine, and even to his final breath, individuals will label him as a non secular warrior, which he was. Each my mother and father had been. However simply including —
AMY GOODMAN: Nola, I needed to share the phrases of your father.
NOLA TAKEN ALIVE: OK.
AMY GOODMAN: That is Jesse Taken Alive talking on to younger individuals about preserving the Lakota language.
JESSE TAKEN ALIVE: The language comes from the creator, so it doesn’t belong to one in all us. The language belongs to all of us. So my message to all the younger individuals — the younger males, the younger ladies, the boys, the ladies — that is your language. While you be taught it, you’re going to have the ability to be taught extra about this stunning factor known as life, as a result of that comes from Wakan Tanka. The chance to share your emotions, to share your ideas, to specific your self comes with our language. And I ask you to take the braveness. [speaking Lakota]. I imagine that there will likely be a day that every one of you’ll speak. [speaking Lakota]. Lastly, in closing, I ask you to do that on behalf of all of us who’re older than you. Take the braveness to be taught the language.
AMY GOODMAN: Jesse Taken Alive, who, collectively together with his spouse Cheryl, had been each — got here down with COVID and died within the final months. When was your dad and mother identified, Nola?
NOLA TAKEN ALIVE: I imagine it began out in the midst of October. My dad was identified first. After which, a few week and a half later, my mother was identified. They usually fought exhausting, and so they tried to stick with us, however, you already know, it’s a tricky virus, so…
AMY GOODMAN: I needed to convey Jodi Archambault into this dialog. She labored within the Obama White Home, is also the sister of the previous tribal chair, David Archambault, of the Standing Rock Sioux. She’s chatting with us from Bismarck. You had been the particular assistant to President Obama for Native American affairs for the White Home Home Coverage Council. Discuss concerning the coverage of the Standing Rock Sioux across the situation of elders and keepers of the language.
JODI ARCHAMBAULT: Properly, I believe that each tribe has the power to prioritize and make preferences for who receives the virus [sic] first. And understanding that —
AMY GOODMAN: You imply the vaccine first.
JODI ARCHAMBAULT: The vaccine, yeah. The vaccine, sorry. Figuring out that there have been quite a lot of elders who had been at actually, actually excessive threat, this was a priority from the very starting, from the onset of COVID. And I believe that it took the management of the chairman, the Tribal Council to know, from simply going over the earlier 12 months’s losses and what has occurred all through the time. And I’m simply actually pleased with them, as a result of that is one thing that’s within the decision-making powers of each tribal nation throughout the nation.
AMY GOODMAN: And I needed to ask Nola Taken Alive first about your identify, Taken Alive, your loved ones’s identify. In case you can speak concerning the origins of it? After which, you’re a member of the Tribal Council that determined to prioritize the elders who converse the Dakota and Lakota languages. And I’m questioning should you might reply to — you possibly can inform us concerning the group response to that. However start together with your identify, Taken Alive.
NOLA TAKEN ALIVE: Properly, I believe that there’s a few tales that originate again to our final identify, Taken Alive, a type of tales being that a very long time in the past one in all our ancestors was what you’d name a police officer, or would, you already know, take these in who would do such wrongdoings in the neighborhood, and, as a substitute of killing them, would take them alive. So, it wasn’t a factor the place we held that in honor so far as killing individuals. So, that was one of many tales.
So far as prioritizing our elders, we wish to be certain that — and that is one thing that dad all the time talked about, you already know, so far as our language, and he’ll all the time say that our language is non secular. After we speak about non secular, we speak about our identification, of who we’re. And, you already know, it have to be identified, all through the world, that Native People or American Indians weren’t granted Freedom of Faith Act till 1978. So, should you can take into consideration that, I used to be only one years previous, the place our ancestors, or my mother and father, my grandparents, might truly pray and use our ceremonies within the open. Earlier than that, it was outlawed. So, with our ceremonies additionally was our language. And in addition, we’ve to look again on the oppression that has occurred to our individuals for generations, for hundreds of years.
And, you already know, you suppose again, 1 years previous, it wasn’t till the late, I wish to say, ’70s, early ’80s, when my dad truly — you already know, he grew up talking the Lakota language since he was born. It was his first language. However he truly did not begin training our ceremonial methods till he was in his mid-twenties, late twenties, due to how that 1978, once more, goes again to with the ability to overtly and freely observe who we had been or who we’re. And so, I simply wish to reiterate that, as a result of not all the world understands the place we’re, that we even belong right here or that we even exist. And I believe our individuals have been romanticized, so far as — you already know, “Do you continue to dwell in teepees? Do you continue to…?”
However, actually, you already know, my dad, I actually am pleased with him. My dad was a Lakota language trainer up till his passing, on the McLaughlin College. And he truly taught from his teepee. He truly — you already know, he lived in a home, however he arrange his teepee exterior of his home, and he would arrange his laptop computer and ran his extension wire and made positive that that spirit of the language, via the teepee, via — as a result of he all the time reiterated that the language is non secular. So, being in reference to the Earth, being in reference to every little thing round him, he needed to make it possible for he was instructing, you already know, that he was passing his data on to the youthful generations. So I’m actually pleased with that, you already know, and that was simply up till October, my dad was nonetheless instructing from his teepee.
AMY GOODMAN: I needed to convey Alex White Plume into this dialog, the previous vice chairman and president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge Reservation, chatting with us from South Dakota. He’s a Lakota interpreter. In case you can speak concerning the results of COVID-19 in your group, significantly the elders and keepers of the tradition and the language — you might be an interpreter — what this implies for the Lakota and Dakota languages?
ALEX WHITE PLUME: Positive. Good morning to everyone.
I used to be actually shocked final January after we — first time we heard this COVID. And so, my spouse and I made a decision to isolate. And as we sat right here on our land — we dwell out on our land; we don’t dwell up in housing or built-up areas — sure issues occurred. They applied a curfew. After which, some time later, they launched a lockdown, the place we had been like prisoners in our personal home.
And me, personally, I served 4 years in Berlin, Germany, with the U.S. Military. I went to the German museum that they made for the Jews that they killed. They usually needed to have two types of ID, one sewed on their jacket and one other paper. And some years in the past, United States handed a legislation the place we needed to have two types of ID.
So, I used to be simply sitting right here, and the influence on that lockdown, to me, was actual scary. I believe it was too excessive. It appeared to me like they may have give you extra testings, convey extra medical doctors, well being individuals in, and go home to accommodate and check everyone, and if somebody’s sick, isolate them there. However as a substitute, we had been locked down like we had been in jail. And psychologically, that actually had an influence on quite a lot of us individuals, that we actually knew we weren’t dwelling free the best way we’re alleged to, however we’re dwelling in like a prisoner of battle camp. So it actually had a detrimental influence on many people.
On the Pine Ridge Reservation, about 90% of us can’t discover employment, had been unemployed. Think about 17 individuals dwelling in a home with no meals, their electrical energy is able to get turned off, and then you definitely’re locked down. After which the tribe by no means went to pay the electrical firm’s invoice, so lights had been being turned off. It was actually a detrimental influence on us.
On the similar time, many Lakota audio system had been simply dying from this new illness. We didn’t know the way it got here right here. We dwell out within the open on the plains. We’re not near any built-up cities. However a few of our individuals may need went to the cities and caught it and got here dwelling, and that’s the way it unfold on the reservation. So it was an actual scary time for many of us right here on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
AMY GOODMAN: Alex White Plume, you’re planning to show Lakota to youngsters. Are you able to speak concerning the significance of instructing Lakota to extra members of the tribe, and why you are feeling that is so vital?
ALEX WHITE PLUME: Positive. My spouse had a college. She began Ama’s Freedom College. And so, we all the time taught tradition. She taught them tips on how to decide cherries, berries, turnips, tips on how to butcher buffalo meat, tips on how to tan hides. And he or she was simply bringing them up culturally. And the language was actually predominant. That’s the one we would have liked to be taught.
And I’ll share a narrative about how I requested to marry her. I used to be sitting on the home. And her grandfather’s identify was Mark Huge Street. And we spoke Lakota. So, we had been sitting in the lounge and simply having fun with a dialogue, and she or he was sitting on the desk. So, in Lakota, I ask Uncle Mark, “How do you ask a girl to marry you in Lakota?” And he simply laughed and laughed. And he or she type of regarded up at me with one eye. And he mentioned, “You realize, you’ll be able to’t take a girl and personal her. You’ll be able to’t declare her your spouse. Our Lakota ladies are matriarchs, and so they have energy that you could’t management. And so I like to recommend to you that you simply sing a wonderful track. And if she likes the track, perhaps she’ll marry you.” So, on the desk, she was sitting there. I checked out her, and I sang a track that I knew. And right here, she checked out me. She says, “OK, White Plume, I’ll take you for my man.”
And so, what Uncle Mark described was the outline of marriage. It’s known as tawicuton. Tawicuton — “ta” means “his”; “wi” is the solar; “cu,” you’re taking a part of the solar to create life. That’s our definition of married individuals, two individuals dwelling collectively. And that’s so necessary. It’s so totally different from the phrase “married.” You say “my spouse” such as you personal a girl. That’s simply opposite to Lakota perception. So, subsequently, the Lakota language is actual necessary. It’s a pure language that developed over tens of millions of years, with many various different species that had been current on the time.
AMY GOODMAN: We now have to interrupt, however we’re going to come back again to speak about what’s occurring with the Dakota Entry pipeline, with President Biden stopping the constructing of the Keystone XL, however not DAPL. And, Alex, I’d such as you to stick with us, as a result of I would like you to inform us about your late spouse, the Lakota water and land defender, Debra White Plume. And in addition, I’d prefer to ask Jodi Archambault to stick with us, to know why now Biden is making a distinction, has separated the Keystone XL from the Dakota Entry pipeline. That is Democracy Now! I wish to thank, and, as soon as once more, our deepest condolences, Nola, on the loss of life of your mom and your father. However clearly their legacy continues and lives on. Nola Taken Alive, chatting with us from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation; Alex White Plume in South Dakota; Jodi Archambault in Bismarck, North Dakota. Stick with us. We’ll be again in 30 seconds.
AMY GOODMAN: “Tune for Mom Earth” by Lakota.