The Braid

I am made of hundreds of strands of hair.
Each strand resilient, beautiful, unique.
Each strand the colors of the earth.
Each strand illuminated by the sun.
Each strand cleansed by the rain.
Each strand shaken by the wind.

Like the people who wear me, I am strong.
My strength is found in the strands
gathered to make a plait.
My strength is multiplied in the intricacy
of the woven braid.
My strength is in unity.

I am worn as decoration.
I am worn for practicality.
I am worn to proclaim my cultural identity.
I am worn with a pride that rejoices in my heritage.

There is a foundation of kinship.
There is a tranquility in my image.
There is a prayer whispered to each strand,
Courage.
There is a prayer whispered to each strand,
“Unity.”
There is a prayer whispered to each strand,
“Remember.”

Ronya Hoblit (Oglala Sioux) is a junior at the University of Montana with a double major in psychology and Native American studies. She graduated from Dull Knife Memorial College in Montana in 1996. She hopes to attain a Ph.D. in psy¬≠chology, allowing her to conduct research that will cultivate respectful attitudes toward Native culture. Ronya says, “My tribal college experience serves as a stepping stone to my next level of education and a strong reinforcement of my cultural back¬≠ground.”

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