December 25, 2009

Big Foot ride for holiday season

What I’m riding for this year--on horse--during my anti-colonial holiday season

By Jessica YeeAs I rush off and dash to jet-set again for yet another destination and another area of Turtle Island--I’m reminded this time around that the place I’m going to requires me to stop, pause, and really think about what it is I’m about to do.

This year I’ve decided to join my Dakota/Lakota/Sicangu/Crow family on a journey they call the “Big Foot” or what it is now known as the “Future Generations Youth” ride. The story goes that 25 years ago, this ride started with the Lakota Youth of Pine Ridge (Red Cloud Agency) to retrace the steps of their ancestors from Standing Rock to Wounded Knee. This 7+ day non-stop horseback ride commemorates the December 1890 events with Chief Big Foot’s band, where more than 250 men, women and children were shot by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre, including Sitting Bull.
And:I’m riding because to be honest--my frustrations with differing opinions on what actualizing Aboriginal youth leadership really means have been maxed out on many different fronts and far too many occasions as of late where people saying they support youth is one thing, but actually DOING something where youth ARE actually in power and being leaders and taking up our rightful space is quite another (and in most instances not happening at all despite the nice and fine talk about it at conference after conference--or if it is happening it was short-lived since apparently people didn’t seem to be “used to” youth having “that much power.” It’s really just bullshit).

Knowing that so many of the youth on this ride live through countless hardships, chose not to celebrate Christmas, and decided themselves to give back their time, energy, and spirit to their community in this most honorable way by riding on the trails of the ancestors during the so-called “holiday” season fills my heart and soul with incredible hope for what are next generations are capable of doing. I’m so completely excited to learn from all these youth I will meet.
Comment:  I don't think I've reported on the Big Foot ride before. That's because it's more of an internal Native commemoration than an external pop-culture affair. But with Yee talking about how she and others are riding instead of celebrating Christmas, I figure it finally qualified.

Incidentally, it's okay with me if we give twentysomethings like Yee the power to get things done. Who do you think's going to accomplish more: 20- to 30-year-olds who are optimistic, energetic, and tuned into the Internet and new media, or 50- to 60-year-olds who are set in their ways, burdened with responsibilities, and unfamiliar with the latest technology. If I'm choosing sides, I'll be sure to pick a lot of youngsters for my team.

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