It is sad that the white people did not try to understand the purpose of our Sun Dance or any of our religious ways. Instead they believed we worshipped false gods and needed to become Christians. So missionaries came by the dozens to our reservations. Some built small church buildings and then wanted to build larger ones with schools..
My father once said that when he was only a child, he was told that his great grandfather was one of those who believed that the earth was round and turned. According to him our pipe was designed to be like the world we live on. The bowl we put the tobacco in is round, like the world. And outside this bowl is the endless universe where the stars are. That is why the pipe is so sacred, why it is used for every ceremony, and for prayer to Wakan-Tanka.
Fools Crow was born near Porcupine Creek on Pine
Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on either June 24 or 27
between 1890 and 1892. His father, Fools Crow (also called Eagle
Bear), was the Porcupine District leader. His mother was Spoon Hunter,
who died four days after giving birth to him. She was the daughter of
Porcupine Tail, for whom the community was named. His paternal
grandfather, Knife Chief, fought with warriors who defeated Custer at
the Battle of Little Big Horn, and his great-grandfather, Holds the
Eagle, was a medicine man and Wičháša Wakȟáŋ (holy man). Raised in
the traditional way by his father, aunt, and stepmother Emily Big Road,
he did not attend "the white man's school" as his father did not
approve. This is why he did not speak fluent English. As a young man
he traveled around the United States with the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild
West Show. He spent much of his life serving his people as a medicine
man, healer, and teacher.
His first wife, Fannie Afraid of Hawk, died in 1954. His second wife, Kate, died in October 1988. Fools Crow died on November 27, 1989 near Kyle, SD. He is believed to have been 99 years old.
Prayer Before the United States Senate
In 1970 he was invited to offer a prayer before the United States Senate. This is the prayer he gave:
"In the presence of this house, Grandfather,
Wakan-Tanka, and from the directions where the sun sets, and from the
direction of cleansing power, and from the direction of the rising, and
from the direction of the middle of the day. Grandfather, Wakan-Tanka,
Grandmother, the Earth who hears everything, Grandmother, because you
are woman, for this reason you are kind, I come to you this day. To
tell you to love the red men, and watch over them, and give these young
men the understanding because, Grandmother, from you comes the good
things, good things that are beyond our eyes to see have been blessed
in our midst for this reason I make my supplication known to you again.
Give us a blessing so that our words and actions be one in unity, and
that we be able to listen to each other, in so doing, we shall with
good heart walk hand in hand to face the future. In the presence of the
outside, we are thankful for many blessings. I make my prayer for all
people, the children, the women and the men. I pray that no harm will
come to them, and that on the great island, there be no war, that there
be no ill feelings among us. From this day on may we walk hand in hand.
So be it."
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Compiled by: Glenn Welker
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