A Story of Gratitude Coming From The Sacred Hill Within

I had the pleasure, for two years, to have had Little Crow (C. Bryant) as a teacher at California State University Long Beach (CSULB).  The co-founder of  The Gathering, the only organized Native American Church, in Garden Grove, he “spoke” one of the most knowledgeable books on how to redirect your life. The book is called, The Sacred Hill Within:  A Dakota/Lakota World View edited by C. F. Clark.

My first memorable experience with Little Crow was when he told me to put away my pen and paper– he was going to teach me to listen. My second memorable experience was during a Black Elk Speaks lecture.  Little Crow stopped in mid-sentence, turned to a young student, and looked her dead in the eye saying, “Did you know when you breathe out…your breath moves a molecule of air which moves a star?  Did you know if you were to die today the world would change? You would be missed.”  There was a moment when everyone, in the class, stopped breathing and listened.  Which is very rare in a college classroom unless you are in a calculus or bio-engineering class.  We all felt what Little Crow was saying.  He was speaking to all of us. At that moment, the focus was on Little Crow and the girl sitting up front who, before Little Crow addressed her,  was twirling her hair and smacking her gum.  When she spoke her voice cracked, “I never thought of it that way.”  Little Crow kept his eyes steady on her and said, “Now you know.”

In moments like these we become one; we become aware of who we are and why we exist.  We are all related and there are some instances which keep us separated (i.e., lack of resources, time, and love).  We judge things on false illusions of fairness; thinking life is about attaining riches when life is about breathing.  Your life is to breathe and be accountable for all the decisions you make.  Your life is to know you are infinite– to throw away the fear of dying.  Your life is to pray for others– knowing when you pray for others, someone is praying for you. Your life is to understand you and the piece of trash fluttering in the gutter are both sacred– there are no hierarchies.

I can’t begin to tell you how fortunate, lucky, honored, and blessed I was to learn from a great teacher (Little Crow would not call himself great nor would he take the compliment without reminding one how he was only human).  What I want to share with you are two poems I wrote for Little Crow during my class sojourn.  I challenge you to read, The Sacred Hill Within: A Dakota/Lakota World View.  I challenge you to read the words passed down from one generation of elders to another.  You have questions; this world view has answers closer than any doctrine, theory, or philosophy can ever supply.


By C. L. Burdett

If you’re not turned on all the time

Then people will reject you

There’s a war going on

And it’s not in the mind

And how we reject it spills blood waste

To the point that when we breathe we don’t vomit

It’s just mainstream

We’re use to it


Like drops from a calcium pill

Like an icicle hanging

It drips and it kills

A paradox of our world

If you’re a child sometimes you will have to sit

On an erect penis till you bleed

If you’re poor sometimes people

Will vote so you will stay poor

And sometimes people carry guns

Because they don’t want to shout anymore


Like a poor man on 3rd street Promenade

Shaking change in his cup

A broken hill

A run in nylon

Who gets raped tonight?

Who gets robbed of justice, life, insurance, ceremony?

Places called home, identity, air, water…

Like an icicle hanging

Suspended from no where

It drips and it kills


I can’t sleep tonight

The skies are turning pink

The world is at war

If you’re not turned on all the time, then

Sometimes, something,


Will turn you off

There’s a war going on

And it’s not in the mind…..

Living Out a Dream

C. L. Burdett

I see one way to look at you

And I see no ways to look into myself

I hear things and see things and judge

I know things perceive and lose things

I wonder about things and wish I knew more

I wish I knew what made the biasness in me

Step down

I honestly believe in myself

I don’t fear or hate anything in me

Ever changing and evolving to the eye

Misunderstood and taken for granted at times

Thrown way and recreated

Reinvented and predisposed


Called for a purpose

Power of one mind

Living out a dream

Living for God, Peace, Equity, Justice,