Salon Sunday

The Role of Elders in Societies



The Covid 19 pandemic is hitting our older generation especially hard. For one group in the US population this not only means deep grief about loved ones, but it also means important knowledge and wisdom about their societies and history is gone forever. For Native Americans in the US, a minority that suffers extra hard from the pandemic, the loss of their Eiders brings the loss of stories that were told from one generation to the next. The Elders carry the knowledge of traditions, healing, of a tribe’s language and its past. Native Americans call their elders “wisdom keepers”, which means the Elders’ sudden deaths derive a whole generation of their wisdom. One native language, Lakota, only has 290 people who know how to speak it, many of them elders.  The more they die, the more the tribe must fear losing their language forever and with it the stories and knowledge of the past.