Saturday, January 23, 2021

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From the Editorial Board

The New Year

As we enter 2021 the staff at the West River Eagle would like to thank you for journeying through the unprecedented year of 2020 with us.

This year we have covered stories of the pandemic, of a fire in Eagle Butte, of checkpoints, of the fireworks over Mount Rushmore and the struggle to reclaim the sacredness of the Black Hills/Paha Sapa, of human trafficking and missing and murdered relatives, of the challenges of medical care through the IHS, of Shorty Garrett, of sports and school boards and graduations and harvests.

Our community has come together through it all. Our wish for the new year is one of peace and healing for the readers and families of the West River Eagle. Our community stretches beyond the boundaries of CRST into South Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Kansas, Washington, California and even to England and Germany. We hope the news and events of the coming year will bring us together in a global community to recover from the pandemic and build new visions for the year ahead.

In particular, it is our wish for the West River Eagle to grow into a voice for all the people of Cheyenne River and the West River; to reflect the quality of life in this part of the world; and to show how the issues most important to us here are connected to global decisions about the environment, economy and all our relationships.

December Wokiksuye

In addition to wishes for the New Year, this issue of the paper includes remembrances of the events of the winter of 1890, the death of Sitting Bull/Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake and the massacre at Wounded Knee/ Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála, and of the Mankato hangings in 1862. As Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle said in her compelling editorial for the South Dakota Democratic Party last week, December is a time of wokiksuye (reverent remembrance) for the Lakota people/oyate.

She writes, “The month of December holds unique spiritual and cultural significance for different people around the world. While this is a time of festivities, joyous occasions and gift giving, it is also a time for wokiksuye.”

It is in this spirit that we decided to print the list of killed, wounded and survivors of Wounded Knee and those members of the military given the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions that day. Advocates hope they will be stripped of that honor. It is important to say the names of the men, women and children who have shaped our lives. It is especially important to honor them as we are again in the midst of grief and danger from the coronavirus pandemic.

Natural Beauty and Poetry

In these dark days of the year, as the Solstice turns our eyes to the growing light, we are using our front page to bring you images of the natural beauty of our spectacular corner of the world. In both the Christmas issue and the New Year’s issue we offer a special photograph and a poem from a living Indigenous woman poet.

In “Onion Skin” Laura Dá speaks to the natural world and the loss and reconfiguration of Indigenous people (her own Shawnee people in particular) through forced removal and frontier violence. She layers the bodies of the people over the body of the land and does not shy away from the stark atrocities of American history. Her poetry is both lyrical and challenging.

“Onion Skin” seemed appropriate for the New Year we both examine both our dreams for the future and the impact of the past. Whether we are Native to this land or our people traveled here from Europe, Asia or Africa, we are all heirs of the history of blood here. Learn more about Laura Dá at her website

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