Chief Luther Standing Bear’s Words of Wisdom
“There is a road in the hearts of all of us,
hidden and seldom traveled,
which leads to an unknown, secret place.
The old people came literally to love the soil,
and they sat or reclined on the ground,
with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.
Their teepees were built upon the earth,
and their altars were made of earth.
The soul was soothing,
strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth,
instead of propping herself up,
and away from its life giving forces.
to sit or lie upon the ground,
is to be able to think more deeply,
and to feel more keenly.
She can see more clearly
into the mysteries of life
and come closer in kinship
to other lives about her.”
(masculine nouns were substituted with feminine nouns)
Luther Standing Bear was a notable educator, philosopher, and actor during the twentieth century. Standing Bear left the confinement of the reservation, but continued his responsibilities, as an Oglala Lakota chief, fighting to preserve Lakota heritage and sovereignty. He was actively at the forefront of a Progressive movement to change government policy toward Native Americans. On February 20, 1939, Luther Standing Bear died in Huntington Beach, California, at age of 70 of the flu while on the set of the film Union Pacific. He was buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, far from his Lakota homeland, with his sacred pipe.