Report date
July 2022
Learning Log

I am extremely grateful and appreciative of all that I was able to experience during my fellowship. It is unfortunate that there was a pandemic during my time. I thought I would have had more opportunities to explore and learn outside of the bubble I was forced to stay in. I am thankful that Bush was flexible and allowed me to modify my learning plan and explore opportunities from within. I know I am a better person from the experience, and I was forced to be innovative. I was able to focus on myself and heal in various ways to understand leadership approaches. For as long as I can remember, I was put in leadership positions with and without the knowledge of being a leader. I accepted the roles, and I was put out front. From my experience with the Fellowship, I tried to step back and lead from behind. I went through a process of setting up an entity under the radar. The entity goals and missions are alive today and we are starting to witness some of the development. I worked on bringing life back into land, Soil Regeneration. I know that healthy soil will be a catalyst for food sovereignty. The practice of caring for animals and acknowledging the fact that all animals can get all the nutrients they need from the land. I tried hard not to show or tell people what I was doing until the results became evident. After two years, the land I was taking care of is now seeing growth from underneath the surface. Caring for the land goes hand in hand with caring for my community, my society. I live in Cannon Ball, ND and over the past century we have been living in a state of dependency with high rates of poverty. As the land starts to recover, my focus starts to shift to my community and Social Regeneration was born. I created Wozu a nonprofit entity. The word Wozu means to plant or grow in Lakota. I had a theory in my head, if I can help land recover then the land will take care of us, and we can help our community/society recover. Recover from all the trauma and wrong doings that this country done to Indigenous Peoples. To implement Social Regeneration, our team in Wozu first developed some base line data from our community. Where are we at now and where the community wants to go. What symptom of poverty can we realistically address? From this base line data, we created a strategy. Our strategy is to create movement with bike trails and change the world perspective of our youth. Our Wozu team is now implementing programs and activities and we will be building a bike pump track. The first phase of a 12-mile bike trail. Recently, I was forced to talk about our plans. Again, I was place in a position that I find uncomfortable, stepping in front to explain our vision. For us to develop the trail system we must navigate through various jurisdictions. The Tribe, the state, the corps of engineers, landowners, etc... I start with explaining the vision is simple. We want to see Standing Rock from space. It will be visible because it will have the healthiest grass lands in the country. And we want a trail system that connects all our communities. I still prefer to lead from behind but at times it will be necessary to step forward for relationship building. There are still many obstacles that we will overcome, and it is a long-term investment. I know that I can and will keep the vision alive and I will be a better leader when it is all complete.

When I started the fellow journey, I came in with some leadership experience. I was the Chairman of our Tribe during a time when our nation was in the spotlight. Being a leader can take you away from the most important things in life. It's like a black hole that sucks you in. If it wasn't for my culture, ceremonies, and family, the role I was in could have changed my character. I am thankful all the haters, they helped me understand what is most important. I chose to step back, lay low, fly under the radar so I can heal and help those that I love - my Tribe, my community, and my family. My mind was made up that I would no longer be a leader. I didn't know that being a leader will always stay with you. I realized now that I can lead, and I must be a leader if I want something better for which I love.

The things that stand out most are the world event, pandemic, and war. The way the world was forced to make changes. It caused a huge disruption to the norm. As time passes and the world events evolve, the norm becomes priority and safety became secondary. The pandemic is still present, but society acts as if life is back to normal. The acts of one country on another and the impact to the rest of the world and economies force another change. Yet the norm is what we all crave. I paid attention to the leaders, their decisions, and the outcomes. I had empathy for them because they know what must be done but society wants different. Leading is no easy task and most often when events happen, leaders are the blame good or bad.

Again, I appreciate everything I experienced with the fellowship. I was able to reflect and recharge and hopefully my leadership will have a lasting impact on the things I love.