• Rose High Bear

UPDATE ON THE MARTIN HIGH BEAR BIOGRAPHY


For those of you who knew Martin Rufus High Bear, the late Lakota spiritual leader and medicine man, you will be happy to know that we are getting closer to publishing his biography. I have worked on this manuscript as a labor of love off and on for the past three decades. The Spirit World advised me in 1988 that I would be writing the book of his life and that it would “have an impact on the peoples of the world.” Martin was dubious at the time, but gave permission to me a few months before his passing in 1995. I did not regard myself as the proper person to do this work because it features his family and tribal history, their rich cultural values and traditional ceremonies of his ancestors. I felt a Lakota person would be more suitable to work on it, but I committed to accomplish it anyway because I was told I would be doing the work. I had no idea it would take 30 years. Titled Martin High Bear: The Seven Commandments of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Maiden (1919-1995), much of the document was drafted two decades ago. The first draft got underway after Martin’s passing. I transcribed several dozen tape recordings of talks he had given the prior decade. A couple of years of oral history recording projects during 1999 and 2000 helped me to travel through North and South Dakota. I recorded 40 Lakota and Dakotah elders which helped me to have deeper awareness and understanding of his culture. These oral histories relayed incidents of historical trauma most prevalent among his people and helped me to have more appreciation and respect for him and his people, the Buffalo People. Following those initial recordings, I took a few trips around the country to record additional tribal leaders and individuals who knew him and were willing to share stories and memories with me. Today’s good news is that the final chapters are ready for initial review prior to sending to an editor. For the past year I have focused upon a newly created section, Part One. These four chapters feature the three spiritual lives Martin lived during his lifetime. It was printed a few days ago, and is in the mail headed to South Dakota. It will be under review for historical accuracy by a traditional Lakota elder who has offered to assist prior to sending to an editor. This editor who is willing to assist us has the wisdom and knowledge of Lakota spirituality and ceremony, especially including the Sun Dance. He is an Adjunct Professor at a university in Rapid City so he also has an academic background in Lakota culture. We plan to submit this document to another editor before the end of 2022 who will conduct a final review and then reach out to a publisher so it can be published. Those who knew Martin, also know by many as “Uncle Martin,” have been excited for the opportunity to read the final edition. We are also looking forward to wrapping up this, our oldest cultural awareness project, which began in 1988. We will provide updates on this project in our newsletter later this year. Rich with traditional cultural values and spiritual qualities that were the foundation of his vision of the Seven Commandments of the Sacred Buffalo Calf Maiden, we increasingly recognize the importance of this document in today’s world, especially among his own community. Personally, I feel that as Indian people, we no longer need to hide our spirituality. For over a century it was illegal to teach our ancestral spiritual principles to our children and grandchildren and pray to Great Spirit as we were taught by our grandparents. It wasn’t until 1978 that spiritual practices became legal again. By that time, many of the teachings had faded. We were told that nothing that Great Spirit creates is ever lost. It has only been forgotten, but it can be restored. That is why today we are restoring those cultural values and spiritual principles, and feel it is appropriate to share them with our subscribers. This work is part of our mission of race reconciliation. We are especially committed to help create a better world where the original first peoples can live in harmony with all peoples of all colors. There is a quotation that we value: “If the friends become founts of love and create environments wherein the spirit and practice of race unity are prevalent, every trace of race prejudice will ultimately be removed.” I love the hope in this quotation that is shared from another religion, the Baha’I Faith. It also states that mankind needs to: “persistently act, little by little, to deliberately cultivate freedom from racial prejudice within their daily lives, their families, their community-building activities, their involvement with society, and all the social spaces in which they participate, so that they increasingly evince the… oneness of humanity.”

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