This new mural is entitled Un Lakota pi, which means we are Lakota. I hope it will be used as a teaching tool. In what is known as the Sioux Empire there are three different dialects of the Sioux Language. Lakota is one of the three dialects. We speak the L dialect. The other two are the Dakota and the Nakota are situated today in the Eastern part of South Dakota, parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The Lakota of today live on Indian Reservations located West of the Missouri River in South Dakota and partly into North Dakota.
This mural depicts the Lakota of the 1800s. All of the Chiefs represented in the worl lived during this period and probably knew each other. Under the Lakota dialect of the Sioux there are seven sub bands sometimes referred to as the Seven Council Fires. Others have said that the term Seven Council Fires refers to a larger group of tribes, which also included the other two Sioux dialects plus other tribes with different languages so I can't say for certain.
In the Mural there are seven geometric designs on the bottom to represent the seven fires with little four direction symbols to separate them. In the middle of the mural there are seven tipis to represent the seven bands of the Lakota. There are people among the tipis to represent the unity of the seven bands at one point in our history. Behind the tipis, is a view of the Black Hills of South Dakota facing to the west of the setting sun. At one time in history the Black Hills or Paha Sapa, was at the center of the Lakota way of life. All around the Black Hills was the hunting grounds of the Lakota. The hunting grounds of the Lakota went as far East as the Missouri River and as far South as the Nebraska and Colorado state border and as far as the Teton Rocky Mountains, The Lakota are also referred to as the Teton Sioux, and as far North as into the Canadian border. The Lakota are known as sun watchers, a lot of our culture revolves around the movement of the sun and other celestial bodies. And the four seasons of the year the sun brings. That's why the four directions of the sun are very important in the culture. Our oral histories tell us that a certain time of the year according to the celestial movements the Lakota would gather beneath Bear Butte in the Northern part of the Black Hills for an annual gathering. One of the reasons for this gathering was to promote intermarriages between the seven bands of Lakota and also between allied nations such as teh ARapaho and the Norther Cheyenne. It is said that the last such gathering to take place was June of 1876 at the valley of the Little Big Horn in present day Montana. The sacred annual gathering was moved there because of the gold being discovered in the Black Hills and the settlers moving in. Historical accounts of the Battle of the Little Big Horn where custer was killed gives us an account of how the seven Lakota bands were set up in the large camp. The camp is set in a large C formation with the opening facing to the east to welcome the rising sun. Anyone who knew the Lakota were friendly to them would enter through the eastern opening. Anyone else trying to enter from another side is considered to be an enemy. The Lakota described the camp as the head of a huge buffalo with the two horns facing to the east. The name of one of the seven bands is derived from the formation, the Hunkpapa, which means camped at the end of the horn. This band camps on the northern side of he opening. Today the Hunkpapa live on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the northern part of South Dakota extending into the North Dakota. On the southern side of the opening is the band known as the Sicangu, which means burnt thigh or as the French called them, "Brule". They possibly got their name because of a prairie fire. Today the Sicangu are settled on two Indian reservations. One is the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation and the other one is called the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Moving clockwise around the camp next are the Oglala which means scatters their own. Today the Oglala are settled on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The next four bands of Lakota are settle on one Indian Reservation called the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. They are the Mniconjou, which means plants by the water or harvests by the water. Next is the Itazipco, which means those without bows. Next is teh Oohe Numpa, which means Two Kettles. Last, the Siha Sapa, which means Black Foot or Soles of their moccasins, were black. These are the Seven Bands of the Lakota.
Not all of the bands are represented by the chiefs in the mural. There are many more chiefs that should be in this mural but time and space do not permit me to put them all in.
The Chiefs in the mural are from left to right; Chief Spotted Tail of the Sicangu; Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala; Chief Crazy Horse (because there is no photograph of him, his likeness is taken from a picture of his nephew Moses Clown), he could be either Oglala or Mniconjou; Chief Low Dog, Black Foot or Mniconjou; Chief Big Foot, Mniconjou; Chief Hump, Mniconjou or Two Kettle; Chief Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa; and Chief Gall, Hunkpapa.
This mural was inspired by my elders who I have heard say "Un Lakota pi" urgently they seem to be saying don't forget who we are, we are a people. And it is dedicated to the young who do not yet know.