November is National Native American Heritage Month celebrating the culture and ancestry of indigenous people honoring contributions and traditions.
Darrell Marcus Kills In Sight (Wambli Ohitika Kills In Sight) is the living relative of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse [Tȟašúŋke Witkó], one of the two most celebrated Lakota leaders. It was early on a July morning when I was first introduced to Darrell through a friend. When I first received the call from South Dakota, John told me that he had a message for me from his friend named Darrell Marcus. I did not understand how someone that I did not know could be looking for me. But, it was true, and the message that I received was a bleak one.
My message was that "the horse nation was dying." That was it, five simple words. A rush of thoughts swirled around my head; what did that mean? Why me? And I must work harder and faster. Having some understanding of the native culture, I understood what I heard beyond the words. After a few months, I spoke to Darrell myself. That began our friendship and an opportunity to learn and understand things "In a good way," as the Lakota say. Darrell is the blood relative on his mother's side of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. He is also a retired US Marine who had served on his reservation’s tribal council. Darrell is a grandfather and one of a handful of people to speak his Lakota language fluently in his community.
Darrell carries within him the great information that all spiritual people have, an innate understanding of nature, connection, and a harmonious understanding of the way of life. Spending time with Darrell, he often speaks metaphorically. In conversation, Darrell is often silent or won't jump to answer you right away, allowing you to rethink whatever it is you asked him in the hopes of discovering the answer for yourself.
Self-reflection is a part of the native way. Going inward to seek the answers from within yourself where your connection with your higher self or soul-self lives—a personal rewilding moment as it were. All of Nature carries the lessons and messages meant for us to learn from. A visit from a butterfly or even a ladybug has great meaning and messages for us to see.
When Darrell speaks of the "Great Horse Nation," I feel that the horses and the Lakota people are so connected that they are one and the same. To native culture, nature has its own consciousness and a gift sent from the great creator to be honored and treated with respect. Nature commands a certain amount of fear when she is angry and revered for her beauty and fascination. All these things are lessons that the Earth shows us and that native culture can teach us. The more we understand nature and our relationship with her, the more we can realize our true selves and be happy.
Darrell often tells stories about the relationship and teachings of nature and how it is interconnected with the people. When he speaks, his words are methodical, and to really hear them, you must allow them to wash over you like a waterfall.
"Horse is a beautiful friend. The river, the streams, the rain, and winter storms, are the little things the Lakota people know. When there are strange impressions, they talk about them in a circle, then pray on it, and never a bad feeling leaves the gathering."
Darrell paints his beautiful messages of horses, man, and nature to preserve his culture through stories for the Lakota youth.
The horse ancestors are shown on the walls of the red canyons in South Dakota, showing us that they are a native species to North America and have always been here with Indigenous peoples.
When Darrell finishes painting one of his spiritual messages, he takes it to Bear Butte or Wind Cave. These are the Lakota people's sacred places where their ancestors have lived and prayed. There, Darrell prays and blesses the painting and its message with his eagle feather singing and praying in his beautiful Lakota language. It is an incredibly moving and beautiful thing to witness. I have never really asked him why he does that specifically. Still, I believe it is to send his good intentions and hopes to the world through his connection with his ancestors. The original stewards of our lands and planet are still here. They remain praying for the people and all that inhabit the world—as is their task from the great creator. I feel blessed and honored to know Darrell and, in some small way, be a part of his teachings
In the later part of the 19th century, the great Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse said:
“I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life, and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.
~ Crazy Horse
I believe that time has come!