Valentina "Tina" Merdanian explains the significance of the Native American medicine wheel and shares the often untold side of Wounded Knee (Little Big Horn) massacre of the Lakota people by the U.S. Cavalry in 1890.

In February andMarch 2012,Bridgewater State hosted a visit from Valentina (Tina) Merdanian and a delegation from the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

The visit reciprocated an earlier trip made by President Mohler-Faria and a group from our university to tour the reservation and begin to understand the depths of the challenges that face the Native Americans who live on Pine Ridge.The challenges are many.

The unemployment rate on the reservation is higher than 80% and the average annual income among its residents is about $6,200

Pine Ridge, like many Indian reservations in the United States is, to borrow Ms.Merdanian’s phrase, an“island of poverty within a nation of progress.”Moreover, its residents carry a heavy historical burden.

Pine Ridge is home to Wounded Knee, the site where an 1890 massacre of at least 150 Lakota by U.S.Cavalry marked the end of the country’s Indian Wars, as well as a famous 1972 American Indian Movement occupation that called to public attention the failure of U.S. governments to honor its treaties with Native peoples.To many,Pine Ridge is a symbol of American governmental perfidy. But today, as Ms.Merdanian and her colleagues Father George Winzenburg,Tashina Banks,Robert Brave Heart and Colleen McCarthy explained, it can also be a symbol of hope.

Tina Merdanian, director of institutional relations at Red Cloud Indian School, feels that being Lakota and knowing your native language go hand-in-hand and that the language is at the heart of being a Lakota person.

As a child growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Tina Merdanian promised her grandmother she would share their people’s culture and beauty, which she heard about in her grandma’s stories. “Grandparents raising you is a very special connection,” said Merdanian, a Lakota woman who directs institutional relations at Red Cloud Indian School.

VIDEO Share The Beauty

Responses to "Valentina "Tina" Merdanian: Medicine Wheel and Wounded Knee (Video)"

  1. Respect and my support Tina for your great work, enthusiasm and strength of spirit. That spirit which you possess, is the spirit of your brave ancestors, proud and honorable. You, the true native American people have suffered so much, you lose a lot, but have retained, unique and remarkable spirit, the spirit of freedom and pride, but you also kept a love to own  tradition and ancestry. I'm not from America, my roots are from  one  small south-east country in Europe, but with almost identical spirit. That's why I understand you very well, and highly respect. Finally, I would like to share with you our dictum which is at the same time the message also:
    "The people who doesn't respect and forgets his ancestors - hasn't a future"
    Once again, I wish you much happiness and success in your future endeavors.

  2. Anonymous says:

    She not only is spreading the knowledge and spirit of the Lakota, but she is beautiful.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We have so much to learn from the Native Americans, the world would be a different place if we would have respected ALL life (and plants) by their "We are all related", respect the elders and learn to forgive. The atrocities committed to the Native Americans by the Europeans take some forgiving...(Hitler is said to have copied the reservation practice as "an effective tool to kill people by starvation and diseases" and de-personification etc". The medicine wheel is also a humbling tool to understand life and relations. Truly hope the Native American history now have an important place in the US Schools, and also the TRUE history of what and how the continent was taken.

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