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Raising a New Generation of Spiritual Warriors


South Dakota Child - photo by Mahsume SipahiSouth Dakota Child - photo by Mahsume SipahiAn Interview with Kevin Locke, whose Lakota name is Tȟokéya Inážiŋ… "The First to Arise".  

TW:   “Kevin, you could live anywhere, but you have chosen to live on a reservation, please tell us why.”  

Locke:  “I live on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, where the life expectancy  for the average male is 47 years.   There is a very high mortality rate much the same as Haiti and it is due to alcoholism, drugs, auto accidents, and suicides.  And more recently we have had an increased rate in suicides.”

Kevin Locke with the children on the Reservation - photo by Susan JeffersKevin Locke with the children on the Reservation - photo by Susan Jeffers“Taking care of the children of the Indian reservations is my number one goal.  I want to teach them how to become strong, spiritual grownups – human beings – so they will know how to take care of themselves and learn to be a joyous people.  To raise up a new generation of youth that will be able to resist the forces of disintegration that is all around drawing them like a magnet toward the forces of materialism.”

"Basically the whole idea is to give the children of my reservation the pure light of spiritual teachings  and the knowledge that they can call on those lessons as they develop and grow.  Just like beautiful plants they are full of color, beauty and fragrance…if you look at children’s drawings, they will often draw a picture of a flower with a strip of green at the bottom, that’s the earth and a strip of blue at the top, that represents heaven and in the upper right corner they will make a yellow circle to represent the sun; sometimes with a smiling face on it and perhaps some clouds and birds around it.  What the children are doing is creating a self-portrait.  They are telling us through the flower who they are “that’s me.”  

Kevin Locke with the children on the Reservation - photo by Susan JeffersKevin Locke with the children on the Reservation - photo by Susan Jeffers"Mostly, they are telling us "I am beautiful", "I can bring color", "I can bring blessings to the world" but they are also showing us  what is a very graphic description of who they are and what they need so when they draw the sun, they are telling  us that they need the light. The sun is a metaphor for God. The kids are saying they need this, they need God in their life, that divine light, the light of knowledge, walking in the light of divine love. They need the divine warmth of love, heavenly love.  It’s essential. The clouds in their drawings represent the wind and the rain which are divine heavenly influences. When they draw the strip of green, they are saying they need a foundation; they need a community But it doesn’t happen automatically; it is up to the adults or care givers to provide a spiritual environment for them. They are really saying “I am vulnerable” and “very fragile” and I need protection. I need someone to offer me support, to offer me love, to show me compassion, consideration, courtesy and respect, to give me all the nurturing you have to give. They are saying they need to have light of love and knowledge."

Kevin Locke performs the Hoop Dance - Photo by the Ixtlan Artists GroupKevin Locke performs the Hoop Dance - Photo by the Ixtlan Artists GroupTW:    “How many children are involved in your classes?”

Locke:  "...all together that’s about 30-40 kids."

TW:    “I understand that you travel a great deal.”

Locke:  “I live here on the reservation, but I make a living being on the road touring which has taken me to over 89 countries.”

TW:   “Is anyone helping you to do this beautiful service for the community on the reservation?”

Locke:  "Yes, I have been very fortunate to have had some wonderful youth come to volunteer their time and to help us when needed.  The kids here love meeting the youth from around the world and we have a lot of fun together.   It is great to see the character of the volunteer youth and to see how they are helping children to learn to build good character and develop.  It is like being a parent.  Recently, we had a youth from Australia who was here for 8 months and a young lady from Siberia was here and one from the Islands for 6 months.  We just can’t find anyone from the surrounding communities to come help…”

"People of the Land" - Photo by Susan Jeffers"People of the Land" - Photo by Susan JeffersTW:  Kevin, teaching children is a real joy for you but that is not how you make a living. Please tell us more about your professional life. You are well known as a player of the Native American flute, a traditional storyteller, a recording artist and educator and a cultural ambassador.

Locke:  “Yes but I am mostly known for my hoop dance, The Hoop of Life.  It is a very popular exhibition dance performed throughout Indian country.  All dancers have their own designs and stories to tell with the hoops as they dance. In my version, I use 28 hoops to represent the days in the lunar cycle, the 28-day period that completes the phases of the moon. My hoops are in 4 colors - black, red, yellow and white. These 4 colors are used by many indigenous people of Native America to symbolize the 4 seasons and the 4 directions.”

Kevin Locke with Hillary Clinton - Photograph Courtesy of Linda SolanKevin Locke with Hillary Clinton - Photograph Courtesy of Linda SolanTW:  Will you be touring again soon?

Locke:  “Yes, I just found out that I might be going to Suriname in August. Suriname is a country located in South America and is situated between French Guiana to the east and Guyana to the west. The southern border is shared with Brazil and the northern border is on the Atlantic coast. "

TW: Thank you so much for your taking the time to speak with us, Kevin. We, at Treasures of Wonderment are wishing you many more children’s classes on the reservation, health and happiness to all.

Note: South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Visit www.kevinlocke.com

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