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‘The Horse Nation Is Here for Us’: How Lakota Culture Is Helping Treat Child Trauma in South Dakota

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Greg Grey Cloud with his horse, “my friend, my horse nation relative, my brother Leon and I, sharing and trading back emotions and communicating.”

Greg Grey Cloud stands in the middle of the arena, thumbs in his hip pockets, beside a black-and-white Paint who wanders and roots aimlessly in the dry sand. The space is slightly smaller than a high-school basketball court, walled in particle board with an arched roof of white plastic that seals in the warmth from the overworked radiant heaters on this chilly northern prairie morning. Mud from the pens outside clings to Grey Cloud’s boots and to the bottoms of his jeans. He closes his eyes and inhales. The air smells of coffee and manure and the smoke of burnt sage from the smudging—a ritual that cleanses the energies of the place, and those of the handful of people seated in dusty folding chairs.

Grey Cloud releases a nasal cry, a monophony in Lakota. The Paint raises her head and turns to attention. In English, the prayer song roughly translates to:

The horse nation is here
The horse nation is here for us
It is time for us to look upon them
The horse nation is here

The high-pitched voice rings out across this remote ranch, down the gravel road that cuts through the plains just west of Mission, the closest thing to a city on the Rosebud Indian Reservation of south-central South Dakota. The audience comprises about two dozen social workers, caregivers, students, and community members, some Native, some white. They’re all here to learn how Grey Cloud and his compatriots are using traditional Lakota horse culture to help area children suffering from mental trauma. Today, volunteers will step out onto the arena floor and learn to groom and lead and even speak to the animals, bonding with them as the Lakota ancestors believed they could do with their fellow creatures. The people will learn to trust the horses, not as pets, but as companions, reliable confidants, and kinfolk.



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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !