Lakota - Lakota Values
There are many values that come from Lakota culture, from the Tiyospaye, Oyate, the Seven Sacred Rites and from the many Lakota stories and myths, as well as from being a warrior society. Some of these values are:
Wotitakuye, or kinship, is one of the important values coming from the Tiyospaye. It includes the ideas of living in harmony, belonging, relations as the true wealth, and the importance of trusting in others. It is one of the values that made the Tiyospaye work.
Family is the measure of your wealth. They will support you in good times and in bad times. For a Lakota, belonging to a Tiyospaye or extended family is through birth, marriage or hunkakaga, adoption. Your family even extends out to your Band and the whole Lakota nation. Whenever you travel somewhere, you can expect to be welcomed and supported as if you were in your own immediate family.
In traditional Lakota society, Wotitakuye was a little different from what it is today. The Lakota were a warrior and hunting society. This meant that the men might not return when they went out to fight or to hunt. So the network of relatives insured that women, children and elders would not be left alone. In these times, generosity was the way of life, and resources were meant to be shared.
Fortitude means facing danger or challenges with courage, strength and confidence. Believing in oneself allows a person to face challenges. It includes the ability to come to terms with problems, to accept them and to find a solution that is good for everyone.
One of the first lessons a Lakota child learned in the old days was self-control and self-restraint in the presence of parents or adults. Mastery and abilities came from games and creative play. Someone more skilled than oneself was viewed as a role model, not as a competitor. Striving was for achieving a personal goal, not for being superior to one's opponent. Success was a possession of the many, not of the few.
Fortitude may require patience, perseverance, and strength of mind in the face of challenges. It involves having confidence in oneself and the courage to continue even when all odds are against you. Fear still exists, but you proceed in spite of fear.
Wacantognaka, the Lakota word for generosity, means to contribute to the well-being of one's people and all life by sharing and giving freely. This sharing is not just of objects and possessions, but of emotions like sympathy, compassion, kindness, and of personal time. The act of giving and not looking for anything in return can make you a better person and make you happy.
The ability to be content without looking for status symbols, like clothes or jewelry for example, is important. L. Standing Bear said "the greatest brave was he who could part with his cherished belongings and at the same time sing songs of joy and praise." This value was taught to Lakota children at a very early age.
Giveaways have always been part of Lakota society. At important events, the family will gather their belongings and set them out for any person in the community to take. "What you give away, you keep; what you keep you lose" is an old Lakota saying.
In the book "The Education of Little Tree" a young boy named Little Tree remembers that his Grandma said "When you come on something good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find. That way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go."
No matter what race or nationality or Tribe, people have found that when you reach out to help others in your community, you become less focused on yourself and more in harmony with the world.