Debra White Plume
Debra White Plume
Debra was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. Debra has been involved in Lakota cultural preservation and revitalization work her entire adult life, including work to protect Treaty Rights and Human Rights. She has been an active community organizer around such issues for 40 years, from the grassroots level to the United Nations, where she participated in the drafting of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples and Issues. She lives along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek with Alex, her husband of 30 years, where they raise horses and provide stewardship to the small buffalo herd kept for spiritual and cultural purposes. Debra earned undergraduate degrees from the Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Sober Indian Dangerous Indian:
Wioweya Najin Win on freeing your mind through sobriety to fight for clear decolonized thinking and the preservation of the Lakota way of life.
Owe Aku leader speaks about sobriety, a mind free of manipulation, and clear thinking that creates an “Indian” who dares to stand up for the rights of his or her people and the rights of Mother Earth. This is indeed a dangerous Indian in today’s world.
"I have been asked and even confronted about the slogan "Sober Indian, Dangerous Indian". So, I will give some background on that. This might turn into a LONG explanation.
"The action this statement came from happened a few years ago, at White Clay at the Women's Day Of Peace organized by Olowan Sara Martinez and a few others. It was a big march and rally, with hand made puppets brought by allies, including a turtle, and eagle, and a huge woman puppet meant to symbolize Pte San Win, White Buffalo Calf Woman looking out over all of us. Arlette Loud Hawk and other women spoke. We had a banner that said "No More Genocide". I made the little hand painted sign that said "Sober Indian Dangerous Indian Mitakuyepi Free Your Mind”.
"The thought behind that sign, that also had a medicine wheel on it in the four Sun Dance colors, is that if we are not in control of our own minds, our own thinking, then we are manipulated and controlled by something outside of our spirit, mind, heart and body. If we are constantly for years and decades craving alcohol and doing whatever to get it, then it is that addiction that controls us, not our own wishes. Many alcoholics wish to be sober, and be free of pain and trauma. I know this. I know the alcoholic fights with self every time he/she drinks him/herself to blankness and mindlessness. To escape the trauma and the pain. The alcohol addict is not in control of their own thinking and doing. Alcohol controls it. So there is no freedom there, in that world. There is only dependence on alcohol. The addiction is what is behind the lies, manipulation, blaming, justifying, minimizing, truth-twisting, and any other tool the addict needs to not only get their drink, but to build and maintain a support system that allows him/her to keep drinking with NO CONSEQUENCES. So he/she can remain blameless, and out of the spotlight.
"This sick twisted dysfunctional reality of the alcohol addict impacts all those around the addict. We are lied to, manipulated, lied about, blamed when we attempt an intervention, that is done out of love and concern. That support system for the addict is their co-dependents, their enablers. They are helping the addict to stay drunk, and to keep up the behaviors that go along with it. I have heard too many victim accounts and witness accounts of alcoholics sexually abusing children or wives or other women, and men too. Spouse abuse, thefts from relatives, violent physical assaults, burglary, car crashes, knife attacks, shootings. I have heard from young people how they were drinking and someone offered them meth and they let themselves be shot up with a needle, only to now find themselves addicted to meth as well.
"To be sober, means one can think their own thoughts as they move into wellness and sobriety. Sober means you do your own thinking and make your own choices. To go to school, vo tech, get a job, all long term decisions that take a while to achieve. Sober means you deal with your trauma, and begin to heal from it in a good way. Sober means it's on you to make your life and the lives of your children. To help your people by being sober and contributing to your family, community, neighborhood, campfire, Nation, Mother Earth. To not be a taker, a drain on energy resources. Sober means you can live the GOOD RED ROAD as a Lakota person. Sober means you are aware that you have the power of thought and action to make chances in your life. Sober means no alcohol controls you anymore.
"That can mean you are dangerous now, because no white mans piss is dominating your every thought and deed. Dangerous means you just might start thinking that our people have been f'd over for too long now, Mother Earth is being f'd over now. Dangerous means you might just start to defend your rights as a human being, a Lakota, a woman, a mother. Dangerous means no one can trick you anymore because you have a brain to think with. Dangerous means you can figure things out now. Dangerous means you cannot be manipulated or tricked or conned anymore. It means you have a free mind now.
"The statement does not call for war as i have just been accused of. Unless, it is a war for our own minds, our own way of life. Yes, we are ALREADY at war, a war in which the weapons are alcohol and drugs used against us and our generations. We are already in that war and we are losing that war unless we f'n get sober and fight back, and I don't mean with modern weaponry. Our prayers and love for each other and our way of life is the strongest weapon we have. Those weapons, the white man does not know how to fight.
"So yes, I am sober and I am dangerous. Now you know the story behind that slogan. Even the t-shirt printer was afraid to print the t-shirt, but he went ahead and took courage and printed the t-shirts. The banner itself is scaring some people. Freedom is scary I suppose, when you have been locked inside the prison of colonization, Christianization, assimilation, neo-colinization, lateral oppression and the many other forms of oppression our people experience on the daily. I wrote this to clarify, and now maybe the inboxes will stop. Thank you my relatives for taking the time to read this clarification."
-Deborah White Plume
© John Kent Lebsock 2016