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Dr. Longie

Dakota Values (and Leadership)

Dr. Erich Longie, President

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.

Seven Traditional Dakota ValuesAnyone working with traditional Dakota people who fails to show respect for others, for elders and the community is doomed to almost certain failure. While in non-Indian it may be accepted to disregard the opinions of, for example, older women with limited income, because they are 'not important', Dakota values are very different and such attitudes in someone in a leadership position will greatly impair the ability to be effective. (continued)

2.            Wowaditake-Courage: Native Americans understood that courage was necessary to ensure survival of the tribe. Courage took many forms; from the courage and bravery demonstrated by warriors in battle to coping with day-to-day struggles. In today’s world, leaders are not selected for their act of courage and those who lack courage often perform poorly in their leadership positions.

3.      Ohan Owatana-Honesty: Ohan means a way of doing things and owotana means straight.  Dakota culture was based on oral traditions passed down from generation to generation. A culture based on oral traditions means a person’s word is all important. Lying, stealing or cheating, and deceitfulness were simply not tolerated. 

4.  Wicowahba-Humility: To be in a state of humbleness.  To be truly humble we must practice this value every day of our lives.  We must not call attention to ourselves. We do not place oneself above others regardless of the status of our job, how many possessions we may own, accomplishments or abilities. Children are encouraged to be humble from a very young age.

While many self-help books and business management courses talk about the necessity for getting recognition and being seen as a 'rising star', in Dakota organizations, drawing attention to one's accomplishments and one's personal contribution to success of an endeavor is unacceptable, like a small child saying, 'Look at me! Look at me!' Leaders are expected to have outgrown such childish need for individual attention. Your contributions will be noted in the community. Leave it for others to talk about what you have done.

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