Minneapolis, MN – COVID-19 is one of the most destructive pandemics in human history. By now, most every person on earth has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus, with many losing family members and friends while enduring harm to their finances and mental health.
As Western countries slowly open back up amidst a new surge of viral variants, conversations continue to revolve around vaccinations, social distancing, health policy, worker safety and mask mandates. For a “different perspective” on the coronavirus pandemic, Unicorn Riot heard from Wanbli Máyašleča (Francis Yellow), an artist, healer, teacher and Indigenous elder from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who lives in Minneapolis.
Growing up Máyašleča was a victim of acts of genocide by the US government, not allowed to learn his language or culture, and sent to Catholic boarding schools and to Boys Town in Nebraska. He’s since become an artist, healer, and teacher of Lakota lifeways: “it’s a never-ending job reclaiming your life in an oppressive society.“
Máyašleča sees the coronavirus is a living thing existing in the world, “no matter how it got here,” and observed how the virus is exposing deep inequities and “existential threats.” He said the scientists are missing the spiritual side of life and he spoke about inter-connectedness, saying all living things, even viruses, have seven beings: heart, mind, body, spirit, shadow, breath of life, and power.
“It’s really important for people to remember we wouldn’t be alive at all we wouldn’t be healthy … the plant foods and animal foods, all of those things that are sustaining water, air, family, home those are all living things that help you be alive and healthy that’s something to be grateful for.Wanbli Máyašleča (Francis Yellow)
While modern industrial ways of life damage the earth, Máyašleča says he finds hope in the rapid healing seen in nature when COVID lockdowns halted air and vehicle traffic last year.
In spite of the mass suffering and deaths caused by COVID-19, Máyašleča holds onto a compassionate view, imploring us to not lose sight of living life with love and joy.
“It may not seem like there’s anything to be grateful anymore with all these existential threats looming around us. But life is still beautiful, life is still wonderful – we’re here to live it, to learn, to love it. It’s not against us, it’s not out to get us. Life is very loving, compassionate, caring.“Wanbli Máyašleča (Francis Yellow)
Update: A fundraiser has been created to help Máyašleča through health and economic struggles.