The often ignored role.


I always hear the term “Warriors eat last” in regards to the huge feast that we Lakota throw. I would like to say that this isn’t true. Before anyone wants to protest me, hear me out.
Every feast I have ever been to I see the forgotten few who really don’t get to eat. People will go up for seconds before these women eat. People will even wateca before they eat. Even the singers and warriors will eat before these women.
Yes they are the few, the forgotten, the servers. I have been a server many a time and by the time I ate mostly everything was wiped out from the wateca warriors. The M.C. never says “Hey let’s all let the servers eat before we run up as if we are starving for seconds.” In fact, I never once heard an M.C. mention the servers.

You see, no one thinks the servers are important, but I recently returned from our spring ceremony and as I stood in the long line behind men, there were no servers. It was a help yourself, buffet style feast, which will never happen at any of our gatherings again. Because as I stood in this long line, I watched people walking away with plates…yes plates. One in each hand for one person. Which I am sure they were taking home to someone, but seriously don’t start a feast off already taking wateca when clearly there was more people than food. I saw someone walk away with a plate of nothing but cake, with a stack on their plates that was five frybread high, walking with no shame as the line was barely moving.
The line began to move as the food ran out. By the time my sons and I got to the food, our plates were no longer needed as the food was gone. There was the smell of frybread in an empty box, there was a couple of macaroni in the bottom of a deep pan which I can only imagine was goulash. There were cake crumbs in four empty pans. Thankfully, my grandpa and cousin made 3 huge pots of really good soup. Buffalo stew, taniga, and bopa soup. We got in on that.
You see everyone, I am standing here with my ladle in hand and asking you to be more thoughtful when you go to these feasts. No one can throw a feast like the Lakota, our value of generosity shines hard then. But colonization takes over also when people take more than they should, greed was never our way. Please when you are an M.C. do not forget to mention that the servers need to eat. When you think you want seconds or want to wateca, do the right thing and ask the servers if they ate.
I know it is a little thing, but as someone who is always ordered with stern eyes by my father to serve the people, I have stood there and served with grandmothers, who never get to eat. Remember everybody and be thankful. Maybe the warriors do eat last because the servers are warriors of sorts.


6 thoughts on “The often ignored role.

  1. Yes, colonialism leaves these deep holes in us, empty spaces we rush to fill with love, or at leas food. I find myself wondering whether I will have enough to eat, even when I am near the front of the line. I remind myself others must eat as well, so I take less. When everyone has eaten, including the servers and cooks, I may go back for seconds if I am still hungry. It was not always so, but I have been hungry and have learned that some gnawing cannot be filled so easily. If we do not curb our hungers we will devour our world.

  2. Yes waiting and reading all was worth the read. So true the value system has been compromised and turned into the very thing that initiated the failures. Just my two cents / opinion. The way back is tough but can be done one respectful moment at a time.

  3. Yes, I have seen the same thing, even at a Sundance. Women piling high the plates for their 4 and five year olds and then seeing the kids eat only the things they like then throw the rest away.

  4. That buffalo stew was so good, though! I think the love and caring Tone n James put into the 2 soups n stew more than made up for not getting anything else–for me. You’re right, though… people were just taking way too much, too soon. Tone told me he didn’t mind, he’d been eating all day long, already, lol.

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