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Four Lakota Values

Generosity - Wacantognaka

Generosity is something any real Lakota person possesses.

They learn to provide for their family members and relatives, as well as the needy ones in their community.

A Lakota person is looked up to not only for his or her ability to provide food, clothing and shelter but also for the ability to give generously and not count the cost.

It is better to give a lot than to have a lot. To be called "stingy" is the worst insult. When an important occasion comes along, people honor one another with a giveaway or otuhan.

During this ceremony, the giver shares much of what he or she has with others. Sometimes, everything in the giver's possession is given away.

The Four Lakota Values
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Courage - Woohitika

Taking care of others means a person needs to have bravery or courage. It means having to face hard and difficult things for the sake of others.

Therefore, a person is taught by example and by stories how to have great courage.

Lakota learn to face danger without running away and how to face even death with dignity. (In the old days, counting coup was a way to prove you had courage.)

Today, a person has to have courage to face bad thoughts and desires within him or herself. It takes courage to make changes instead of running away from problems. Any person who does something dangerous to help another is worthy of honor and respect.

Respect - Wowacintanka

In order for people to live together in peace, they have to respect one another. The old are respected for their wisdom, and the young are respected because they are the people's future. This attitude also means a reverence for all other living things in the world.

Everything was put on this earth by the Great Spirit. All people and things are relatives. Holy men tell us "everything is one." This reverence is expressed in daily prayers and by the way we act.

The outcome of this respect is peace in families, among tribes and other people.

Wisdom - Woksape

The knowledge and wisdom of the old people is very important for the well-being of the people. They know how to give "good advice" to others because they have seen many things happen and change.

This kind of wisdom helps people get along and understand the world around them. This wisdom helps us see people are more valuable than things or money. The real way to judge a person is to see inside him.

Wisdom is knowing a person is nothing without the power of God. Being humble and caring for others is the wisest power of all.

Wisdom is like the sun who rises at dawn - only then do we see things as they really are. This is why traditional people face the dawn (east) each day to pray and ask God to make them wise.

(Adapted from Lakota Life by Ron Zeilinger)

 

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