Native elders held a “forgiveness ceremony” at the Elder Rock casino in order to give veterans the opportunity to apologize for wrongs done to the Native American people in the past by the United States military.
Chief Leonard Crow Dog formally extended forgiveness to some 500 military veterans who attended the ceremony, including one Wes Clark Jr., son of retired Army general and former supreme commander at NATO, Wesley Clark Sr.
The ceremony included a small speech from Clark, which near the end, had he and some of his fellow veterans kneeling before Leonard Crow Dog — one even groveling — and asking for forgiveness.
The speech from Clark was as follows:
Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to make your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.
You can watch the video below.
A photographer from the Huffington Post was present at the ceremony, and captured images that further shed light on the atmosphere that include tears being shed by participants, as well as blessings of sage for being “water protectors” for resisting the Dakota Access pipeline.