Kalyn Free & Chairman Martin (Morongo Band of Mission Indians)
I'm dead dog tired at the moment, but I can't go to sleep before I try to put into words, no matter how feeble or inadequate, the sense I've gained from another amazing day here at INDN's List Campaign Camp. The highlights of today continued the theme that started off the camp yesterday - reminders of why we all are here. After lunch today, Edward Iron Cloud III shared a short film that presented very moving images of Oglala Lakota and their relationship and regard for the buffalo that once covered the plains and now are tended by Lakota tribal members. After the video was shown, Mr. Iron Cloud, an Oglala Lakota tribal member from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, stood up and spoke with so much passion, eloquence and humor that the audience willingly let him speak on through three "conclusions." He is a natural storyteller, and talked about his love for his people and his hopes for his time here at Campaign Camp. He spoke beautifully about the future of Native people and the need to reclaim traditions and maintain cultural ties and use those traditions to combat problems that were brought to the Lakota by the invasion of the Europeans. He spoke with an urgency that obviously inspired everyone in the room to go out and try to do our very best to promote Native values and support Native people as they increase their political voices.
The lunch-time talk was outdone only by the after dinner talk that was given by Democratic National Committee person and Winnebago tribal member, Frank LaMere. I felt so very honored and grateful to be able to listen to Mr. LaMere's inspirational words. He spoke from his heart about many "defining moments" in his life - recounting his initial foray into the world of politics, his involvement in protesting the sale of 12,500 cans of beer daily in Whiteclay, Nebraska - a town that borders the dry Pine Ridge Reservation, and the birth of his granddaughter in Oklahoma City. All of these stories were woven into an overarching theme that once again brought all of us in the room back to the reason why we are here - that is to promote, support and increase the political power of Native people, so that their voice is stronger and more influential. The dinner was beautifully prepared and presented and was delicious, too. My eyelids are drooping, so I'll sign off for now, but I am looking forward to tomorrow and another incredible day of listening and learning here at Morongo.
Kalyn & Robert Holden, INDN's List volunteer