Hello, my name is Elaine Yellow Horse and I am from Wounded Knee, South Dakota. I am a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. I live with my family. I love living in Wounded Knee because the community is so close knit, it’s like one big family where everyone knows each other and grew up together.
With my grades I also thought college was a goal that was unattainable. Here I am now, a college student, chipping away towards my degree in Lakota Studies with an emphasis in Tribal Law. I want to be a role model for the youth in my community, whom I already have a good relationship with.
One aspect of my leadership that I’d like to share is archery. Archery is something I am passionate about, it’s like playing a guitar, and you can pick it up whenever you want and play some amazing song and just jam out. I can pick up my bow, clip my quiver on my pants, slide my hand into that glove and feel the thread from my horrible beading I tried my best to put on it, and walk out the door. Standing a little ways from the target, I take a deep breath, knock my arrow, and focus on where I want the arrow to go. In this moment, I try and feel the wind to see which direction it’s coming from, is the air humid? How much do I need to correct?
There is somewhat of a moment between the release of the arrow and pulling the string back. Do I know where the arrow is going to hit? I’m not 100% sure but I know that my chances are good of it hitting where I want it to hit. This is when all of the chaos in my world ceases to exist. My life gets simple in this moment.
The time I am spending shooting is my chance to escape from the world. I have no problems here. The craziness of living in Wounded Knee is gone, no more worrying about my little sister drinking with her friends or about her future, no more worrying about whether or not my little brother is going to try and commit suicide tonight when he drinks, no more worrying about whether or not my mother is going to make it through this next month because my brother’s death seems to have caused her to give up hope on everything, no more worrying about my niece and nephew and if they are being taken care of, no more worrying about my grandpa and being scared he’s not going to wake up one day soon, no more worrying about my community and all of the dysfunction that’s happening at that moment. No more worrying about my people on the reservation and how if only they had enough hope left in them to want to change for the better and how I can give them that hope, and no more worrying about my patients at work. This time is for me, and it’s here where I find solace as I go deeper into my own world. I pull back the arrow and open my hand; the arrow soars through the air and hits the target, one down three hundred to go. Archery is my guitar and it’s something I’m good at and it’s something nobody can take away from me. I finally have something to call my own.
Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another life. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity. —Sitting Bull (c. 1831 – 1890), Hunkpapa Sioux
I am not saying that I view myself as a warrior but I do think that I will fight for what I believe in, and for what is best for my people.