Category Archives: Social

Horse Therapy: Helping Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse

“The old warrior waited patiently for us. Although his magnificent regalia was heavy and it was hot in the practice barn, he showed no signs of irritation. He stood erect, with great dignity, stamping his feet a bit when he saw us approach.The horse was ready for the duty of ceremony, ready to bear whatever spirits needed unburdening…Red Clouds is one of several rescue horses who serve as equine therapists at the Sinte Gleska University’s (SGU) ranch on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Red Clouds is a member of Sunka Wakan Oyate, the horse nation. For Lakota people, Red Clouds is more than a horse, he is a relative, therefore his role as healer and therapist [in the] mental health program is especially potent.” M. Pember, ICTMN

Red Clouds wears his regalia. ICTMN

Excerpt: Horse Therapy Helping Break the Stigma of Sexual Abuse By Mary A. Pember, ICTMN

“Greg Grey Cloud walked up to greet the horse. The big man’s voice was unexpectedly gentle as he spoke to the animal. Outwardly, Grey Cloud could be described as gruff. In his sweat-stained t-shirt and well-worn cowboy boots, he was the very picture of a hard-working, no-nonsense ranch foreman. But standing close to the old warrior, Grey Cloud seemed to change. His bearing softened, and he seemed to grow vulnerable as he stroked the horse’s neck and prepared to share his secrets.

Greg Grey Cloud dresses Red Cloud, therapy horse at Sinte Gleska University’s ranch on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.ICTMN

The horse stood quietly as Grey Cloud spoke, hardly moving until the man finished his story.

Reclaiming the relationship with the Sunka Wakan Oyate goes far beyond the benefits of therapy. For the Oceti Sakowin peoples, Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, the horse nation is an important bearer of culture and spirituality and represent a means to return to the traditional health and wholeness of their ancestors.

Grey Cloud spoke so I could hear, but it seemed as if it were only he and Red Clouds in that dusty barn. Grey Cloud began his story, an awful memory from his childhood that has haunted and traumatized him for years. It was New Year’s Eve, Grey Cloud recalled. He was 9 years old. His sisters were 7 and 11. Swept up in drunken revelry, his father forgot about the children as he left their home in search of another party. Six teen boys remained behind with the children.

The teens began to drink. As they got drunker and drunker, their talk turned mean and lascivious. They decided it would be a good idea to rape the young girls. When they began ripping off the girls clothing, Grey Cloud stepped forward, shouting, kicking and hitting at the teens. The teenagers turned their attention to him. Taking turns, they raped him, laughing and calling him names he didn’t understand. At the time, he recalls feeling grateful that at least his sisters were spared. When they finished, they urinated on him.

Beaten and bloodied, he laid on the floor as the teens once again turned to his sisters. Somehow, he got to his feet and tried to fight them again but he wasn’t able to stop the teens, who raped his sisters.

The sisters cried for a long time. Grey Cloud tried to comfort them but was hurt and confused by their sudden fear of him, their brother. Speaking of it now, he realizes they now saw him as a man, the enemy.

Greg Grey Cloud speaks to Red Clouds.

Fearful of retribution from the teens and later of how the community might judge him, Grey Cloud kept this horrendous story secret for over 20 years. It was the horses, the Wakan Oyate, however, who healed him as he worked as an equine therapist and foreman with the Tiwahi Glu Kini Pi Program at the SGU ranch. Part of the SGU tribal college, Tiwahi Glu Kini Pi offers clients a wide range of western and Lakota culturally based mental health counseling and services including providing access to Wakan Iyeska (Medicine men), instruction in Lakota men’s and women’s teachings and equine therapy.

‘It was these horses who taught me that it was okay to be afraid, but that it wasn’t okay to remain silent and protect the men who hurt me,’  he says.

‘These horses helped me see that it was important for me to share my experiences so that we can help each other in the community to ensure this doesn’t continue to happen to other children.’

Supporters of equine assisted therapy believe that those who don’t respond well to traditional talk therapy can benefit from interacting with horses. According to an article in The Guardian, since horses are pack animals they are very sensitive to stress and body language. Horses pick up on the way people are feeling, mirroring their emotions and responding, providing feedback for people struggling with troubling emotions, such as fear and anger.

Although many health professionals laud the benefits of this therapy, it does not have the scientific stamp of approval as an evidence-based practice (EBT). Most large granting institutions, such as government and university organizations, will only fund organizations that use EBTs as their primary therapies.

The Oceti Sakowin peoples, however, need no assurance from the scientific world as to the powers of the Suka Wakan Oyate, not only to heal but to also imbue the rider through talking and working with the animal, with the courage and strength to take on risky, even dangerous tasks.

They also know the horse nation is a source of spiritual power. Long ago, according to Grey Cloud, when warriors faced a powerful challenge or adversary, they dressed their horses in fabulous regalia under which medicine people first painted special symbols on the horse’s’ body.

It is only by breaking the silence about violence and sexual assault that the community can heal itself. Greg was the first Native man I ever heard talk in such depth about what happened to him. He let us know that we can no longer be silent.”

Category: Social

Replica of Native Execution Device Is Not Art!

“The Walker Art Center has postponed the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden until 10 June following protests from Native American groups surrounding a work by the artist Sam Durant that references US state-sanctioned hangings. Among the historic gallows recreated in Durant’s wooden sculpture Scaffold (2012) is one used in 1862 to hang 38 Dakota men executed by the US Army in Mankato, Minnesota.” H. Stoilas, The Art Newspaper

Durant’s recreation of hanging scaffold used on Natives in 1862.

Excerpt: Walker Art Center postpones opening of sculpture park after Native American protests

“The work will probably be dismantled after a meeting between the artist, the museum and Dakota elders on Wednesday. Announced in January 2016 as one of the 16 new works acquired for the park’s reopening this June, Scaffold was originally commissioned and shown at Documenta in Kassel in 2012.

Photo- MPR news

[according to a  press release statement] ‘With the death penalty as its focus, Scaffold opens a discussion around criminal law and the politics of incarceration—themes which continue to resonate today.’

On Thursday 25 May, the Walker’s director Olga Viso wrote about the new acquisitions, including Scaffold on a blog post on the museum’s website. This prompted an outcry from Minnesota’s Native American community, over its use of a traumatic symbol of brutality against the Dakota people, the museum’s failure to consult tribal leaders in its acquisition and installation, and the fact that the work was made by a white artist.

Protest signs against scaffold. photo- The Art Newspaper

Signs posted on the fence surrounding the park said ‘Not your story’ and ‘$200 for scalp of artist’.  Both Durant and Viso released statements apologizing for the hurt caused to the community and offering the dismantle the piece.


‘It has been my belief that white artists need to address issues of white supremacy and its institutional manifestations. Whites created the concept of race and have used it to maintain dominance for centuries, whites must be involved in its dismantling,’ Durant said. ‘However, your protests have shown me that I made a grave miscalculation in how my work can be received by those in a particular community.’ Viso said: ‘As director of the Walker, I regret that I did not better anticipate how the work would be received in Minnesota, especially by Native audiences.”

Category: Social

Native Super Moms!

“Among the many tribes of Native Americans throughout North America there were many different roles for the Native American women. The roles of many Native American women were very important to every Indian tribe.” Native Net

‘Super Native Woman’ design by Jared Yazzie and OXDX Clothing

Excerpt: Native American Women, Native Net

“Women are important to any society since they are the bearers of children, but to Native American tribes the women had many other very important responsibilities.

Native women cooking on open fire

Among some American Indian tribes the women would make many of the weapons that were used for hunting and war, and also built the homes they lived in, gathered firewood, as well as herbs for medicine, and nuts and berries for food.

Native arts

Native American women are the ones that made the crafts that have become very popular forms of art worldwide. Some of the crafts they are known most for are the hand woven and quilted blankets, colorful beaded necklaces, handmade and painted pottery.

Native American Women Warriors

No matter what tribe you are referring to, the women were always very important and had many different roles for the survival of the tribe.”


Yakama Native American Mother and Child

Category: Social

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

“An NIJ-funded study shows that American Indian and Alaska Native women and men suffer violence at alarmingly high rates.More than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women and men have experienced violence in their lifetime, and more than one in three experienced violence in the past year, according to a new report from an NIJ-funded study.” NIJ-



Excerpt: Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men

“The study, part of NIJ’s research program on violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women, looked at how prevalent psychological aggression and physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and sexual violence were among American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. It also examined the perpetrators’ race and the impact of the violence.



The results, which show high rates of violence against both women and men, provide the most thorough assessment on the extent of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men to date. These results complement those from the National Crime Victimization Survey.



American Indian and Alaska Native men also have high victimization rates. More than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native men (81.6 percent) have experienced violence in their lifetime.



These results should raise awareness and understanding of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native victims. They also highlight the continued need for services for American Indian and Alaska Native victims of crime.”

“The physical and emotional scars of domestic violence can cast a long shadow. Too many individuals, regardless of age, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, circumstance, or race, face the pain and fear of domestic violence. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we shine a light on this violation of the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse, pledge to ensure every victim of domestic violence knows they are not alone, and foster supportive communities that help survivors seek justice and enjoy full and healthy lives.” ~PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA~ 




Category: Social

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Wins Another State!

“Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont signed an executive proclamation Thursday, making the change. Under the decree, Shumlin said a growing number of cities in towns in the United States have recognized the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” B. Evans, NBC5



Excerpt: Vermont has officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Brad Evans, NBC5

“The day is an opportunity to celebrate indigenous heritage and resiliency, the proclamation stated…The State of Vermont recognizes that it was founded and is built upon lands first inhabited by the Indigenous Peoples of this region – the Abenaki and their ancestors and allies – and acknowledges and honors the members of the community, both past and present.



Shumlin encouraged all Vermonters to celebrate the new holiday… Town Manager Leo Pullar said the issue is important to many in the area.The Abenaki, one of the indiginous peoples of this area…culturally, historically have given great contributions to this area, said Pullar.



takara-matthews-a-member-of-the-abenaki-sokoki-tribe in Vermont.

takara-matthews-a-member-of-the-abenaki-sokoki-tribe in Vermont.

The tribe has its own government and constitution.The push to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1977. It has gained in popularity in recent years.”

For Teachers: visit the site Warpath2Peacepipes which provides interesting facts, information and a history timeline of the Native American Indians of Vermont.


A Special “Wado” to LJ Perspectives for helping the staff at Talking Feather!

See LJ’s beautiful Fetish art in our Native Tribal Art Work section

Category: Social

NetFlix: Bucking Bulls and Broken Bones

“Superlatives fall like thudding hooves in the Netflix documentary series Fearless available on Friday. Bull riding is definitely the most dangerous sport in the world. It’s the fastest-growing sport in America. Professional Bull Riders, whose 2015 season the series chronicles, is a global phenomenon.” M. Hale, The New York Times

Photo- dailymail

Photo- dailymail

Excerpt: Netflix’s ‘Fearless’ Explores the World’s ‘Most Dangerous Sport -By Mike Hale

“Between the entertainment-sports conglomerate WME-IMG and Netflix, the deep-pocketed streaming service, there was probably a lot of money available to produce four hours of television (across six episodes) about bull riding.

Fearless, directed by Michael John Warren, looks good and moves smoothly. The graphic design and music are several levels above those of the cable reality series in this genre.

Native Dakota Louis rides Maverick.-pbr

Native Dakota Louis rides Maverick.-pbr

There isn’t quite enough content to fill those four hours, though. The wary but amicable relationship between American and Brazilian riders provides some diversion.

Yet the competitions, including the season championship, aren’t terribly dramatic, except for the somber moments when paramedics have to be called into the ring.

But Fearless has one great ace up its sleeve. Nothing looks quite like the slow-motion footage of those eight-second (or shorter) rides.

Kaique Pacheco in “Fearless,” a new documentary series on Netflix that explores bull riding. Credit Alberto Gonzaga:Netflix

Kaique Pacheco in “Fearless,” a new documentary series on Netflix that explores bull riding. Credit Alberto Gonzaga:Netflix


The riders become rag dolls, their bodies jerking and folding in seemingly impossible ways. Often there’s the grisly bonus of seeing them fly off the bulls’ backs and desperately try to avoid their jackhammering hooves.”

Category: Social