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Be Thankful Every Day

Nov 29, 2011

Like many Lakota people, I do not single out one day a year to give thanks. Many of us offer morning prayers every day, seven days a week, every single day of the year. Some of us offer prayers at noon, prayers over food, prayers before meetings or other events, prayers at night and even say lots of special prayers when we feel the need. When I hear people praying they always give thanks for many things.

I am also thankful for the air I breathe and the food I eat. Mother Earth is so good to us but we often take her for granted. Also, I believe it is very important that every time I drink or use water I give thanks for it. We must remember there are parts of the world where people do not have access to the good water or food which we have. I am also appreciative of fire, which heats our homes and cooks our food. 

I am also extremely thankful for my Lakota ancestors because without them I would not be who I am today. I am thankful for the Lakota children who have given me great inspiration and encouragement in many ways. I am thankful for the Lakota medicine men, spiritual leaders, and the Lakota pipe carriers. I am especially thankful for our young men and women who have taken the time to perfect their talent as Lakota ceremonial, Native American Church and wacipi singers.

I am deeply appreciative of my Lakota culture because it has taught me to be grateful. I have learned to feel appreciation for every minute of every day because I realize that life is short. I do not want to devote my time to people who are not thankful for anything in their lives. 

Finally, I encourage you to never take anything for granted. The gifts or people you enjoy today could be gone tomorrow. Learn to live in the moment because I believe it is the only way to find true joy in our lives. Rejoice in each sunrise; give thanks each morning to the Creator for gifting you a new day of life. Enjoy your family and friends while you still can. Be thankful every day of your life.


Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She can be reached through email at



08:48 am - Tue, November 29 2011
Bernie Hunhoff said:
Beautifully written, Vi. The union of God and nature and man that you write of is the ideal of all the great religions of the world -- and I've often noticed that Lakota spirituality is very close to Zen Buddhism, Islam and even my own Catholic heritage. It's not so surprising, then, that the missionaries were able to convert Native Americans to Christianity ... because when they heard about it, it didn't sound so foreign from their own beliefs.

The best evidence of God, it seems to me, is that all these diverse religions have such similarities.
03:26 am - Wed, November 30 2011
Nice article...VERY nice....
07:20 am - Wed, November 30 2011
Katie said:
Thanks for a thoughtful column, Vi!
07:00 am - Thu, December 1 2011
Heidi said:
Such a simple thing as saying "thank you" to neighbors, friends, family and God is so often overlooked, especially this time of year. Thanks for the reminder Vi.
07:07 am - Fri, December 2 2011
mary elsen said:
Loved your piece, Vi. Your description of the Lakota values and beliefs reminded me of a small Pow-Wow I attended in Rosebud several years ago, with my (then) 13-year-old sister. Only one other white person attended the event, but we were welcomed into the celebration, no questions asked. They even gifted us with coffee mugs and dish towels--tokens of the self-less "give away" tradition so different from our own "It's-my-birthday-what-did-you-bring-me?" culture. We were thankful for the kitchenware, but even more so, for the chance to experience the generous, welcoming Lakota spirit.

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