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Dear Fancy Dancer Woman of the Lakota Nation,

My film is not about Karen Sussman or her enterprise.  The trailer you refer to is part of a youtube series simply meant to bring attention to the cause and needs of the wild horses, not specifically to help Karen.  Karen is featured in the film as the director of International Society for the Protection of Wild Horses & Burros.

Regardless of our differences of opinions,  we have to share the land with many people and animals and the message of my film is to find good management solutions for resources, including wild horses.

You are critical and hold a grudge against Karen for your personal reasons, but I have not found a perfect person, white, red, black or freckled in this world. As a social worker you know we are all guided and formed by our own social and cultural backgrounds.  I’m sorry your experience with Karen has been hurtful and negative.  My experience with her has not been and in this so called land of the free we get to choose who and what to sing a praise to. She is who she is and I’m glad the horses at least have somewhere to live, regardless of red mans or white mans land.   I think they need more land and it’s a shame the horses become the target of unburied hatchets.

I was born in Rapid City and spent many summers in the Black Hills.  My aunt married a Lakota and my cousins are Lakota ranchers.   I believe the “truth” of managing herds in the wild lies in skilled management of resources and preservation of the natural order of the eco-system.  My strongest belief about the topic of wild horses is that they are not “managed” nor are the resources managed. All is parceled off for sale to many special interest groups without unbiased ‘study”.   I also believe the arid range land, stripped of so many resources can no longer sustain “Government subsidized cattle ranching.”.

My finished film is thirty minutes long and just won a “Best Nature Film” at an environmental film festival.  The core of the film is to honor and respect nature and all of her inhabitants.  ( Not about Karen’s place or Ginger’s herd, or  Madeline Pickens or any celebrity – Indian or white.)   The horses are the celebrities in the film and the subject is a plea to viewers to contribute to their better management. Solutions need to be found, and I do not believe slaughter is an answer.  It’s a big fat cop out after the agency in charge didn’t do their work on the range.  I do not believe the horses should suffer because of it.  We’ve messed up the natural order because we  have fenced them in and killed off their natural  predators.  The horse industry is in trouble, but guess what so are lots of other industries. Until the problem of so hundreds of thousands of unwanted horses is resolved, no one should breed and birth control measures should be used.  Separate pastures seems to work very well for my Lakota relations.

I worked in public health as a nutritionist and health educator for Indian Health Services in Denver and I have a registered Native American Great Grandmother.  The stories of my childhood and the energies of my ancestors have formed many of my sensibilities.  The trail of tears drove my ancestors from their  roots in N.Carolina to a disenfranchised life in Oklahoma, where their Indian identity became a secret.  My daughter in law is proud to be a  registered Cherokee and  my best friend is full blood Pueblo.  I am surrounded by Indian reservations and am very aware of how my white ancestors  betrayed them and took away their culture. My french blood was passed into the Lakota people since the mid 1700’s.  My ancestors are buried all over the black hills and you and I could be related.  Our ancestors likely fought and killed each other  and some made love and babies together.   That makes the “all my relations” prayer of the Lakota even more appropriate doesn’t it?   We are related to all beings, even when we don’t like them.  I suggest all of us move forward,  because hanging out in the torment of the past, will not lead anyone down a new road of discovery of solutions.

In this film and my last one “Heart & Soil” I pay tribute to the Native people because they were the “listeners” of nature and to my knowledge all tribes honored and respected Mother Earth because their existence depended on it.   When the white guys came many didn’t listen or respect the Indians or Nature.  And yes, I know that no good deed goes unpunished, so as I give I need to be clear that I give without expectation of being appreciated or thanked.    It is my understanding that most people who try to help the disadvantaged face many obstacles.  Isn’t it interesting that the takers are more easily rewarded than the givers.  ???

As s a testament to learning from the hardships of nature I have faced great thunder making this film.

When the dissent between opinions  starts to overwhelm me or  I get too close to the hatred, anger, fear, misconceptions, corruption, biases, blame, hostility, ignorance, callousness, prejudices,  paranoia,  or blood shed, I close my eyes and visualize the peacefulness of a wild free roaming horse and I find a gentle warmth of acceptance again.  I’m just a woman walking the earth, who is  called upon to bring awareness about nature and health and as I do I hope to leave something kind along my path.   –

Warm Regards,
Mara

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