Elder and co-author of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings, Dottie LeBeau, discusses the thinking and the objectives of the Elders during the writing of the Essential Understandings.
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View the South Dakota Public Broadcasting film:
Oceti Sakowin: The People of the Seven Council Fires
Why Focus Our State’s Attention on the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings?
1) So that the people of the Oceti Sakowin (via their elders) to understand their definitions of themselves, something that has not been the case, historically. Non-native definitions and ways of being in this region have been diminished because of a history of non-listening. Native definitions and ways of being in this region have been stifled through the silencing of historic oppression, separation and targeted, forced assimilation.
2) To open up a deeper understanding of the natural environment of South Dakota by listening closely to the experiences and stories of those who have been here longest, and whose traditional culture and way of life were shaped by and within this environment.
3) The Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings are a beginning place to which all of us, native and non-native, can bring our full selves around the circle (placing doing in service to Being) so that the algorithm of our interacting can expand understanding rather than diminishing it.
4) The process of coming to understand my neighbor is interwoven with the process of coming to understand myself.
Explore more on the history of the development of the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings here: