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Velma's Work
Valiantly Velma - Page 6

Reservation rumors told of so much that had happened in one decade. The television reported the storming of one of the buildings in Washington D.C., and of how the Indians entered. They, then, barricaded the place against entry from anyone else. Gossip said that while in the building they were riffling through papers only to find old treaties between the government and tribes. These were the agreements made with the chiefs that had words to speak of eternal housing, medical, and food in exchange for their land. These treaties gave the modern Natives, suddenly, a powerful position with where upon they could make demands.

The year 1973 was when there was a highly publicized altercation between Native Americans and government men who fought on the Pine Ridge reservation and it was the second Wounded Knee incident. The first Wounded Knee massacre was in 1890. This was just twenty years short of 100 years later when Martin Luther King was killed in 1968. Again, these were the days of turmoil. Who knows what or who was promoting these events even if the power came from the Highest Source or from some opposite mean spirit? Who of us at the grassroots level can really know?

Velma continually believed in the system, though. It was her practice to take the fight to the courts and in a soft revolution appeal to the people.

This democratic way she learned as a girl at Chilocco Indian Boarding School and this was ingrained into her consciousness along with her teaching at home of tribal laws. The thinking woman would not take part in the radical warlike, ways of some who were actively pursuing this course at the time. Her course was snail-like but she also believed it was most effective and, indeed, it did prove to be. Through her efforts and the management of the leaders of her tribe a peaceful way toward progress could be seen. It was slower but, in the long run, much more beneficial and productive.

“Who were the people on the Ponca Tribal Council when these programs began to be available? And were they the ones to bring these benefits to the people?” Velma was asked.

“The president of the United States was the one who brought these things to the people.” Velma’s quick and to the point reply settled, with one sentence, the issue over who might be claiming the glory for trying to alleviate the suffering of the people on reservations, nation wide.

“We had strong men on the council who could see these common goods should come to their tribe and they worked with the feds for these changes.” This little woman could “tell it like it was.”

For whatever politics involved it didn’t matter to Velma. She had a feeling for suffering on any level whether it was with a Caucasian waitress working for tips or an Indian child who was miserable from lack of warm, clean, adequate housing. Like a true leader she worked one small project at a time and, when that was finished, didn’t drop her progress but used it like a plan to involve others for completing a greater puzzle. It was as if she could see in her mind what was to happen. If the effort seemed too big and unbelievably great it didn’t matter to her because she enlisted everyone around for helping to carry out her plans. Important accomplishments made seemed like a party and, of course, everyone loves to party. Wasn’t Wimpy’s a kind of big party, every day? The work involved? No problem. Work was just a mean to an end and was a pleasant exercise.

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