Emmersed in Research and the Lakota People

Our church youth group is heading to a South Dakota Indian Reservation in a couple of weeks. Having spent ten years teaching in West River (the western side of the state), I know a little about the Lakota culture. I came home from church, wanting to put together a five-day read/devotion/meditation for our youth. I dug out my semester of Indian Studies notes and poured over the many books I have on the Lakota peoples. I found it amusing that as I was reading about time (commonly refered to by non-Indians as Indian Time) I totally lost track of it. To try to explain Indian Time here and now it would undoubtedly get lost in the translation, even though I’d use English words.

As I looked up Lakota words and songs, children’s faces flashed before me. Parents’ faces flashed before me. Grammas’ faces flashed before me. And I wondered how could I possibly honor a people in five short paragraphs? Part of me thought, “Let the youth group be Wakanesha — child spirits — and I’ll just wait and watch them after they return.” I think that is the attitude many Indians have of non-Indians, anyway, that we are Wakanesha, although they would be too polite to admit it. I have a couple of weeks to decide if I am going to put together a five-day read for them or not, but after spending several hours pouring over Lakota pictures, words and memories, at the moment I’m leaning towards the not.

Pulling this back to my writing blog and writing research. I’m just wondering if any other writer has this same odd thing happen to her or him? That while you are hours in on your research, you forget who and especially where or when you are, and instead you are watching and listening to another culture, another time, another place. And I also wonder, do you get Research Jet Lag when you look up and realize your present reality? I’m trying to shake off this “jet lag” because there are things I must get done today, while my body is telling me I need a nap to recover from my intense time of research.

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