Owls and the Lakota

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Native American (Lakota Sioux)
Age: 24
Occupation: Financial Crimes Specialist
Residence: Riverside, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/2015
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

SI: Way back in the day, I was probably about, uh, 12 or 13 at the time. My momma told me once, that to the Lakota Sioux, my tribe particularly, the Oglala tribe, they see owls as a postive thing, a lot of other cultures see it as an omen of death or destruction or something negative. But the Lakota Sioux view it as a symbol of hope and power and wisdom, of course. Basically it’s a positive sign. I remember because one time we were cruising to the reservation – we used to live on a fish farm. So we were heading back to the fish farm, and we saw an owl overhead. There’s also this connection between the Sioux and owls, it’s a whole Native thing.

Once an owl got caught in a fence at the fish farm, and her (SI’s mother) boyfriend, another caretaker of the farm, was trying to get it out of the fence by hurting him, but it kept going ballistic on him. So my mom went up to it, and she took like a t-shirt and put it around its head, but it was completely calm. The caretaker tried to do the same thing and it went ballistic. My mom still firmly believes that because she’s Sioux and because owls are a good thing for us, that that’s the reason the owl didn’t freak out as much.

That was on a reservation in Arizona, in the desert. I just think it’s interesting that different cultures can see different signs as positive or negative. Like I said, a lot of European countries think, since it’s a nighttime bird, that it’s something negative, like a raven almost. I was told that when we were cruising on the way back to the house.

SI’s mother’s maiden name was Brown. That was not in fact her last name at birth, but her aunt had made her change it so she would not be bullied for it. The name she was born with was Barbara Brown Owl, but only held that name for the first few years of her life.