Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Badlands

Saturday 13th October

Hello all, we've been out of touch with everyone for a few days with no phones and no internet. Even the American cell phones don't work in the beautiful wilderness of the Badlands. We got up especially early yesterday at 5.50 a.m. to walk up to a ridge and watch the sun rise. It was spectacular - silent except for the song of the meadlowlarks and SO peaceful. I saw my first rattle snake but didn't hang around to take a photo. After leaving the peace of the Badlands we made a really emotional journey to Wounded Knee. I can't describe the emotions we all felt there, but we each left an offering on the mass grave and on the grave of Zintkala Nuni (Lost Bird). I have been there before and knew what to expect but it doesn't make it any easier. The native people here live desperate lives, ignored by the US government, but their strength of spirit and connection to each other and to the Planet is something most of us have disconnected from and is to be envied. We spent an evening on Pine Ridge with Wilmer (Stampede) Mesteth, the highly respected Lakota Spiritual Leader and Historian. He told us all about the problems they are experiencing today and I hope when I come home, I can remember everything he told us. It is hard to take it all in. He told us the true story of the Ghost Dance and drummed and sang the Ghost Dance songs for us - it was a huge privilege. He also played his flute and sang a Love Song to Paul and Debra, the married couple in our group, who were celebrating their wedding anniversary that day.

Last night we returned to stay in Rapid City but we are leaving shortly to go to the sacred sites of Bear Butte and Deer Medicine Rock, where Sitting Bull carved his vision in the rock. We will also be going to Spearfish Canyon (scene of the Dances with Wolves winter camp) and then to Pryor Mountains to see the wild stallions.

Feeling really emotional writing this - I miss my family and wish I could share all of this with them but I will be home soon with lots of video and photographs.

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