Amidst all the holiday hub-bub nonsense what with all the rampant shopping, grotesque overspending, power eating, and under-the-weather feelings many of us encounter, I cast my eyes to my brothers and sisters who use the holiday season to do something remarkably different.
Two rides take place in the United States every December to commemorate some of the largest massacres in Native American history, where communities, families, Elders, and youth alike gather from all across Turtle Island to ride in the footsteps of our ancestors who put their lives down so our peoples could carry on the very culture that sustains us today.
On December 10th, the Dakota 38 Ride started on the Lower Brule reservation in South Dakota, and will end up in Mankato, Minnesota on December 26th. It commemorates the result of a federal policy and a newly formed state to remove the Dakota people from their lands and led to the largest mass hanging in US history on December 26, 1862.
On December 15th, the 23rd annual Big Foot Memorial Ride kicked off on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, and hopes to be finished on the Pine Ridge reservation in 2 weeks. It honours the more than 250 men, women and children shot on December 29, 1890, by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in the Wounded Knee massacre.
One of the most inspiring aspects of both these rides is the amount of young people who make a point to participate and learn the stories of long ago. It is so easy to forget, so easy to assimilate, so easy to buy into the commercialization of “Christmas” and not care at all.
I know that I want to care, and I know that I want to remember. And I am honoured to be joining these riders at the end of their trail to give them their due.