Modern Lakota warriors honor veterans - KOTA Territory News

Modern Lakota warriors honor veterans


For the third year, volunteers from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and elsewhere staged a celebration unique to KOTA Territory -- honoring military veterans with a marathon horseback ride and flag ceremony at Crazy Horse Memorial.

The group rode for 120 to 140 miles from June 29 to July 3 to conduct the program at Thunderhead Mountain, the site of the world's largest mountain carving in progress.

The third annual Lakota Honor Ride ceremonies on July 4 featured prayers, songs and reading the roster of living and deceased military veterans. The riders carried American flags to symbolize one or more veterans honored by their families.

American Indians have the highest per-capita military enlistment of any ethnic group. Some say that's a sign the defending warrior traditions of Native Americans continue.

Speakers saying true warriors act out of compassion, not for the sake of violence, cited the legacy of Tasunke Witko -- Crazy Horse-- the mountain's namesake. He helped lead the defeat of Custer and his cavalry troops at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Ride co-founder Marvin Goings says he and other riders are carrying on the dream of the late Jack Cummings, a Rapid City veteran who wanted veterans honored at Crazy Horse.

"I think it's an honor to carry the veterans' flags for them, to show respect to those who have made their journey and served their country in a good way," Goings said.

The ride features several young people and 16-year-old high school Hailey Goings says the ride inspires her and others to keep Lakota cultural customs alive.

"It's the honorable thing to do for our ancestors. I do it for my grandpa and my little sister ... for everyone," said the Red Cloud Indian School student.

Crazy Horse Memorial also conducted its Fourth of July blast to honor military personnel and veterans. The yearly observance is in memory of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, a World War II veteran.


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