Gus Yellowhair walks to the front of the room on soft, moscasinned feet. Dressed in a buffalo bonnet with a colorful headband, hide shirt and khaki pants, Gus begins a telling of the creation story of the Oglala Lakota people for the gathered crowd inside. He opens with a prayer song from the Native American Church, accompanied by the beat of a handheld drum, his voice deep and resonant. Interspersed throughout his telling are jokes referencing Kung Fu Panda and flairs of showmanship. Gus and his daughter Tiana work at the Chamber of Commerce on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southern South Dakota and are practiced storytellers, taking time out of their days to share this piece of their culture and history with visitors. At the end of the story, Gus and his daughter traveled around the room, passed a braided portion of sacred Sweetgrass to smell, and shook every visitor’s hand.
By: Amanda Champion