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November 2011

Lessons from the Buffalo

By: Dr. Martin Brokenleg


I come from the Lakota nation, called Sioux, by the government. One of our traditions is to study the natural world for lessons on how to live life well. Many lessons come from studying the North American bison we call Buffalo, Pte Oyate, in our language.

When buffalo sense danger they move into a protective formation. The buffalo bulls surround the community. They take their instructions from an elder Buffalo cow that stands in the middle of the herd. The buffalo cows form a secondary protective ring inside the circle of bulls. The calves are in the very centre, since they are the most precious and the most vulnerable in the community. A function of the herd is to protect the young since they are the ones who ensure the survival of the herd into the future. From this, we Lakota see that it is the task of the adults to protect the young, if we want them to have a good life and to live well into the future.

In my Reclaiming Youth work, I mostly encounter professional youth workers such as teachers, counselors, and child workers. I see parents less frequently but I see them as the main protective front line for youth. Of course we expect parents to have the most time in

Toward the Restoration of Dignity

Submitted by Steve Van Bockern


For those of you who know Reclaiming Youth International, you know those of us in the organization aren’t fans of corporal punishment. We don’t think hitting, spanking, pinching, yanking and a host of other physical reactions to misbehavior are effective if the intent is to teach youth self-control. Attitudes about corporal punishment may be changing, but slowly. According to Patrik Jonsson in CSMonitor ( the percentage of adults who believe children benefit from the occasional “good, hard spanking” declined from 83 percent to 70 percent between 1986 and 2008.