Duane Hollow Horn Bear – Instructor for the last fifteen years teaching Lakota linguistics and culture at Sinte Gleska University and father of Dakota Hollow Horn Bear, co-founder of the Cultural Heritage School.
Duane was forced as a youth into the reservation boarding school. This was a US Government program where children were taken from their parents to attend schools where missionaries attempted “mandatory assimilation” by obliterating children’s knowledge of, and ties to, Lakota culture. He returned to Wounded Knee from Vietnam in 1970 to find an uprising of Native Americans fighting for their civil rights. After “seven hard years” of struggle he found mentorship with medicine man John Eagle Elk. Duane apprenticed and studied intensively until Eagle Elk’s death ten years later. Duane was thus able to re-embrace his culture, including the Lakota language, history, and spiritual philosophy. Along the way he taught what he learned to his own children, including his son Dakota, who is now an educator himself and co-founder of the Cultural Heritage school.
“In the absence of a cohesive culture and sound role models, children will cast about for other ways to feel part of something. But to the Lakota way of thinking many of the icons of popular culture today are negative. These include a lack of respect for women, the promotion of materialism, and the idea of spirituality as distinct from the rest of one’s life. The Lakota philosophy is that our personal spirituality is not separate from any other aspect of our lives. They are all joined; we do not eat or dress or sing except as an expression of our spirits. Lakota culture is also very inclusive: we believe that everything is the Creator, from the trees and clouds to all other people. For our children to be immersed in classes taught to them by their own elders is invaluable in building their self-esteem. They need to feel a part of the larger fabric in order to find their place within it. As they learn, they can and will draw the ones they love back to the same values. The impact this school could have on the kids is tremendous.”
Recommended Reading: The Price of a Gift: A Lakota Healer’s Story by Gerald Mohatt
Elva Stands in Timber - Cheyenne elder, daughter of John Stands in Timber, Cheyenne tribal historian and author of Cheyenne Memories
“It would be wonderful to have a place where our young people could learn their traditional ways from their own people, Cheyenne or Sioux. We can only show them, help them understand their traditions, and hope they will return to these values in their lives.”
John Stands in Timber