"In 1998 I was made a chief. I don't know how to define 'chief.' It's not a Lakota term, and it's also a very recent term. Traditionally, a man of that stature was called 'naca,' a man of wisdom and achievement. Such a man was said to practice humility to everyone, even to the camp dog, but today 'chief' is defined as something like a king or a president. You know, that status is given today because of Western influences, and now they've become really important figures - 'I'm a chief,' you know, that sort of thing. I was given a war bonnet, but I put it away for a year while I called all my relatives on both sides of the family. I asked them to gather and presented the bonnet, asking if I had their support to wear it. They said yes, so I asked the White Hats if I could use that name as chief. They said I could, so, 'Chief White Hat.' It was necessary for me to get permission from my tiospaye [family group] for that to happen. That's how it's done."
Albert White Hat
Lakota "chief" and elder
Photos: Two Badlands scenes (SD) and one of Bear Lodge (Devil's Tower, WY, with prayer ties in a Ponderosa Pine. the fourth photo is of Albert White Hat.
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.