Self Esteem Sampler
Daryl Mapes Found His Spiritual Path 
By Studying The Life Path of Ogalala Lakota Native Americans 
By Kay Walburger 

 

 

“My spiritual path began one day when my wife Nila received a book of pictures of Native American Peoples as a gift. I sat down and started to look at the pictures and to read about the Lakota people and their “Way of Life”. The book told about their connection to the animals, the earth, and the stars. I found their relationship to them very interesting. They didn’t use fear or guilt in their teachings and the beauty drew me in. I began to think about their ceremonies, what they meant, and it called to me. Something in me clicked”, remembers Daryl. 

“The Ogalala Lakota people became a fascination to me and I began to study all I could find about them. I insisted on reading mainly books written by the Indians themselves because I wanted to get their true feelings and attitudes. I learned statistics, dates, events, broken treaties, dates moved to reservations, meetings with whites, battles. Facts, figures, and dates were my beginning and as I read these books I picked up some of the Lakota words. I tried to learn them but did not know the pronunciations.” 

“Little Crow is a great man who speaks at The Native American Church in Garden Grove where I started attending. He is Lakota, so I asked him how to pronounce letters. He taught me the correct way to articulate the letters so I could speak the words. I then began to study more of the language. I purchased tapes from the Black Pipe Community in South Dakota and feel grateful to Christine Dunham for making these excellent tapes. Thanks to her I have a comfort level with this beautiful language,” recalls Daryl. 

“I began to study their Spirituality. This part of my quest takes me to understanding the animals and what they represent in their beliefs. They lived so close to nature for so many years that they could clearly see, feel and hear how all of life was connected. Different animals have strengths and qualities that while they knew how important they were to life on earth, they also saw their Divine symbolism. Example, the Mighty Eagle represents the Great Spirit, the Creator. The Hawk is seen as the Messenger. If you have a prayer and you see a hawk, say your prayer, and the hawk will take it to the Creator for you. 

The buffalo is the symbol of the Giver because the Plains People depended on the gifts of the buffalo for much of their health, wealth, and independence. They tell the story of The Buffalo Calf Woman who came to the Indians as a beautiful woman but left as a White Buffalo. The story goes that two warriors were out hunting one day and saw a beautiful woman coming towards them. She was dressed in exquisite white buckskins. One warrior had bad thoughts about the beautiful woman and the other hunter told him “No, don’t do this,” but the warrior spoke to the woman when she opened her arms and embraced him. When she opened her arms again, he fell into a pile of bones and worms because he had bad thoughts. She approached the other hunter and told him to return to the tribe and tell the chief and his people “I am coming.” 

“Buffalo Calf Woman showed up before the tribe, gave them the gift of the Sacred Pipe, and showed them the proper way to pray. As she left she walked into a field, rolled on the ground, and turned into a white buffalo. They in turn developed seven sacred rites using the pipe. Today some Native Americans believe White Buffalo Calf Woman is here now walking the earth and some say she is walking with another woman.” 

Native Americans Pray For All Four Races Using the Medicine Wheel 
“The more I learned about the Ogalala Lakota, the more it called to my heart and spirit. I have found most of the Indians I meet walk their talk. This integrity of belief with daily living is extremely important to me. They don’t think of it as a religion to be practiced on holy days or one day a week. They see it as a way of life observed every moment of every day. I am extremely grateful for the American Indians who have taken me, a white man, under their wing and shared this beautiful way of life, blessing me in so many ways. 

There is one man Mario, a Mexican White Mountain Apache, who one day surprised me, saying “You have read enough books, come with me.” It surprised me because I didn’t think he liked me very much. He wanted to see if I was sincere, and then took me under his wing and introduced me to the real thing. He and his wife Marlo invited me to their home, took me to rituals that let me experience what it felt like to make deep spiritual connections with others and with nature in simple sacred ceremonies and prayers.” 

“I have the greatest respect for these people, so I waited to be asked to join in their sacred ceremonies and rituals. I feel privileged and honored to have won their trust by my own diligence and study, keeping it authentic, and by understanding their values and entrustments. I make no claim about them or myself that is not the truth. Some Native Americans feel that only blood ties give you privileges. Others point out that we should share these truths with those who wish to sincerely learn, as we already pray for the four races with the medicine wheel.” 

“The Ogalala Lakota is part of the Seven Council Fires of the Sioux Nation found in South Dakota. There is so much to know that I have limited my studies at this time to the Lakota people, and it may take the rest of my life to do that. I have come so far in the last six years of study and practice about sacred truth. The most amazing thing to me is I now know what my wife Nila was trying to teach me all this time. I am realizing how wise she has always been and see how similar all spiritual paths really are at the core values and in the hearts of the people. My wish is that all people could have more true understanding and respect for each other’s spiritual choices. The Indians never argue about these things because they feel you’ll find the path that works for your life.” 

Some of the best storytellers are The Ogalala Lakota
 “I love the stories of the Lakota people. They spent long winters in a very cold climate so stories were a great way to while away the days. I have learned to tell many of these stories and one I like is How The Crow Turned Black. Once all the crows were white and they decided to help the buffalo by warning them when the hunters were coming. As soon as the hunters came into sight the white crows would fly down and land on the buffalo’s head and yell ‘Run! Run! Run, the hunters are coming.’ The buffalo took off running before the hunters could get close enough to get one. This began to take its toll on the tribes, as they needed food and skins for their well-being. 

“The Indians got together and thought up a plan. They had a brave take an old buffalo skin, put it over his head and sneak into a herd nearby. When the hunters rode up, the crow flew down and yelled ‘Run! Run! Run, the hunters are coming.’ All the herd ran off except the brave in the buffalo hide. The white crow landed on his head and yelled ‘Didn’t you hear me? I said Run, the hunters are coming.’ Just then the brave grabbed the crow by its legs. They took the white crow back to their campfires and while they held it high above the fire, they tried to reason with it explaining how they needed food and skins for robes. As they held it there the black smoke curled around its feathers turning them black. The crow promised not to warn the buffalo about the hunters any more. They let it go and it has had black feathers ever since.” 

“I am a white man, yet I believe in their ways with all my heart. I love to attend their Pow-wows, sing and drum with them, and participate in ceremonies when I am permitted. There are still levels I have not yet achieved, but will wait patiently until a true native invites me. I would like for many people who do not know Native Americans to keep an open mind about them, and if interested, seek the truth as told by the native people themselves, or people who have been carefully trained by natives.” 

If you are interested in more information, classes or programs by Daryl Mapes, contact his wife Nila at The Latest Thing in Costa Mesa (949) 645-6211.


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