|Joseph Marshall III
Cante wasteya nape ciyuzapelo. I take your hand in friendship. This is a common Lakota greeting. The literal meaning is with a good heart I take your hand.
Indians or Native Americans - as we are now known - are the first human inhabitants of North America, with the oldest societies and cultures on the continent. Although now we are a part of Canadian and American societies, we are also the smallest ethnic minority in both countries. Although our population overall has increased from its low point of 200,000 in 1900 to just over 2 million today, we are still less than one percent of the total American population. One other distinction is perhaps the most significant: Non-Indians relate to us more often on the basis of stereotype and misconceptions than on reality.
Misconceptions and stereotypes about us are a detriment to Indians and non-Indians alike. They have existed so long that some are regarded as truth. They obscure the reality of what and who we really were and are. Many of us are not asking non-Indians to like us, necessarily. We are merely asking that we be perceived and judged on the basis of fact and reality.
Stories as far as I'm concerned, are the best way for people to get to know about each other. That is the basis for this website. The name Thunder Dreamers is taken from my book The Journey of Crazy Horse, and not because I have any special power. Far from it. But just as Crazy Horse and other Thunder Dreamers were given a power by the Thunder Beings, I believe there is a power that comes from knowledge, which comes from experience - living life - and stories. The more honest stories we know about one another the more realistic awareness we gain. The more awareness we have the more likely we are to think of and judge one another fairly. Then we are more likely to greet one another with an open hand and an open heart, rather than a closed fist and a closed mind. Then we can honestly say Cante wasteya nape ciyuzapelo.