I am Madonna Blue Horse Beard--three quarters Oglala Lakota. I come from a long line of good men and women. My great-great grandfather Blue Horse was a Medicine Man. His son and then my father carried his name. Now, my son carries his name and is proud of that. My father was a musician and a carpenter. He could do anything. On my mother's side, there was a Medicine Man and a woman who was a warrior. Knowing this, I have a sense of where I come from.

When I was five years old, I was sent to a boarding school. I learned many things there, but I was not taught our Lakota language, history or culture. I learned to be ashamed of and to deny my Lakota identity. It wasn't until I went to graduate school that I learned more of the history and culture of my Lakota People.

Gradually, I came to understand and accept the beauty of the Lakota heritage. I learned it was something to be proud of, not ashamed. I was so proud and excited by what I learned that I set out to tell non-Indian people about it and to correct their misconceptions.

I never set out to be a role model, but I found that my own Lakota People were most interested and hungry for information about our history and culture.

One of the highest Lakota values for me is Truth. If I am true to myself, then I am true to Wakan Tanka and to those around me. I believe that the real truth is that all of life is sacred, that people are sacred. When I recognize that and treat them as sacred, then I will be able to walk in a sacred manner.

I am privileged to be able to practice Lakota spiritual ways, as a Sun Dancer, by conducting Sweat Lodges, and as a Pipe carrier. I see myself becoming an Elder so it's important to me to pass the knowledge I've been given on to my children and grandchildren.


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