Dot Com IndianAug 15th, 2006 | By jshortbull | Category: Student 2006
By Jesse Short Bull
Yamni Brave Eagle was what some considered to be a lost soul. His 18 years on the reservation were overflowing with terror, which marred this young man. The tatters of his broken family failed to give him any support.
Since the day he was born, he didn’t have a chance. Yet the spry and skinny boy was surprisingly resilient to the evils around him. Unlike his father who was a daily soak, his lips rarely touched a drop of alcohol, and he wasn’t into drugs. He went to a reservation school and his teachers thought well of him.
His grades, however, did not adequately reflect his potential. To his peers he couldn’t relate; he never talked to anyone and never showed interest in anything. On the exterior, he seemed heartless, with no remorse or emotion.
However, inside of the boy ran a deep stream, bounteous with a life he had never shown. The flow of this stream fed the boy’s stubbornness, which secretly combated the labels of people who never understood him. Instinctually he knew he had “easy outs” at every corner, but no matter how great the temptation, he withheld himself from the opportunities. He never could fully explain to himself why, but he hung on to that glimmer of hope as long as possible. He was a strong boy, who had grown up at a very young age.
Yamni knew very little of his Lakota culture. His father did but was ashamed to pass it along. Yamni only knew a handful of words in his language. His spirituality was dimmed, but occasionally he would break the first cigarette of a pack and shred it. He never really understood why. He had no clue as to who he was or what he was supposed to do. He was lost and the little piece of his heart was throbbing for something. Yamni Brave Eagle did not know how to find that something.
Maybe it was destiny, a timely trick of fate, but one morning something did find Yamni. He filled his lungs with the clean air of springtime renewal and walked into the school. The school’s state-of-the-art computer lab was primed and ready to harness young lives and connect them to the world. He was fascinated and took to the computer right away. He adapted to this strange machine rather quickly and marveled at its complexity.
Everything he couldn’t have at home was now only a click away. His father had pawned their TV so Yamni had not seen a basketball game this season, but now he had access to every game across the country. His father despised his love for hip-hop. Now Yamni could surf while downloading the hottest tracks. He loved having the world at his fingertips. He knew how to navigate for information and had all the virtual bells and whistles.
Every day when he logged on and checked his email, he erased all the junk mail that he received. Most times he didn’t even bother to give them a fleeting glance. But one day he happened to notice an email title between an auto refinance ad and a home mortgage pitch.
The title read “ Brave Eagle I Presume?” Yamni quickly clicked on it to see if it was legitimate and read the following message: “Dear Sir, I’m student James Whitlock of Easton University, and I was doing some research of Oglala Lakota history. We are currently covering the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and I was looking into the descendants of the Lakota warriors who participated in the battle.
“I found your address on a whim and was curious if you were connected to the warrior Brave Eagle who rode with Crazy Horse on that June day. Please, if you are a descendant of Brave Eagle, please contact me immediately. Thank you for your time. James Whitlock.”
Yamni’s eyes were wide; this was breaking news to the lad. He had long known of the heroic stand of the Lakota at that battle, but he never knew about this warrior Brave Eagle. He never would have thought he would have a connection to this monumental time in history. His head was filled with the dreams of Crazy Horse and the honor of battle and a sense of accomplishment.
Before he wrote a reply, he ran up to his history teacher’s classroom with a bundle of questions. His teacher was shocked, and it took him a moment to pull some thoughts together during Yamni’s ambush of questions about the warrior Brave Eagle. He was very delicate with Yamni’s newfound curiosity and encouraging. He knew a quick remedy to cure Yamni’s itch. He sent him to Ted Thunder Shield, a respected elder and historian of Yamni’s district. Now a tie would be forged, as Yamni’s teacher arranged a meeting at Ted’s house.
Yamni walked the 2-mile strip of a small dirt road to the old man’s house. He nervously knocked on the door and waited. Pretty soon the door opened and the old man reached out for a handshake. He motioned him to come inside; Yamni’s uneasy mind was calmed with the comforting aroma of coffee and the good feeling the place gave out.
“Tanyan’ yahi’ yelo, hoksila…I’m glad you came.” Ted’s voice was firm yet calming. Yamni presented his question about the name Brave Eagle and the history that followed the name that Yamni carried. They talked for hours while Yamni soaked in every word.
Yamni Brave Eagle woke up following the best sleep he ever had. With a little sense of purpose inspired by an online question, he was now starved for more information.
He would reply to James Whitlock informing him he was a proud descendant of the warrior Brave Eagle. They would go on to form a relationship by email, which would lead to their meeting and touring of the reservation. He also would lead an online forum discussing the preservation of culture. Yamni would also see Ted Thunder Shield on a daily basis, which helped him to better define his character. The once lost soul was now a proud college student with a major and a dream to inspire younger generations of Lakota children.
Jesse Short Bull lives in South Dakota and attends Oglala Lakota College. He likes to write and has aspirations to do something with his creativity. He is currently enrolled in the TV Production Program at Oglala Lakota College and enjoys it immensely.
Short Bull is also proudly enrolled with the Oglala Sioux Tribe. His favorite teachers are Kathy Aplan and John Around Him. A Lakota Oral Literature class helped inspire this story.