A Lakota Man on Identity

Walter Littlemoon, author of They Called Me Uncivilized, spoke to the Suffield community on Monday, September 30. He and his partner of fourteen years, Jane Ridgway, visited David Rockwell's Native American Studies class before the chapel presentation and shared stories about Walter's life as a Lakota man.

Walter grew up at Wounded Knee, an Indian reservation in South Dakota and also the sight of the last Indian massacre in 1890. When he was just five years old, Walter was removed from the reservation and taken to Oglala Community High School, a U.S. government-established boarding school designed to "kill the Indian and save the man." Walter, like many of his peers, has spent the rest of his life struggling with the torture endured at the school. He admits that he spent "a lifetime feeling resentful" before finally learning how to find strength by embracing his identity.

David Rockwell, who first learned of Walter after reading his story in Indian Country Today, reached out to him and asked if he would speak to the Suffield community about the concept of identity, this year's school theme. "Having a meaningful identity is the key to being a happy, healthy individual," said Dave Rockwell in introducing Walter. Walter confirmed this in his talk, asking Suffield students to walk away from their Suffield experience with dignity, pride, and determination. "I am most proud of the fact that I was able to figure out that a healthy life is about finding your self-worth," he said.

The Thick Dark Fog, an award-winning documentary film directed by Randy Vasquez, tells the story about Walter's life, his struggles with finding his true identity, and his eventual "Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" diagnosis.


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