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An original song: ‘Legacy’ featuring Gene Thin Elk

Tanner Drappeau
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I wrote this song after the University of South Dakota transitioned to online classes during COVID-19. It is titled “Legacy,” and it speaks to the many legacies that Indigenous people have had to endure or react to because of the rest of the world and the decisions we are not always aware of. Here are the lyrics:

Legacies that were never meant for you

Legacies that were never meant for me


Legacies that were never meant for us

Original movements were the death of us

Trying to hold onto what’s left us

Cause we can’t ever let them get the best of us

Now who going to fail when they put the test to us

Here for now then it’s back to Earthly dust

And the light keeps driving out the darker things


Legacies that were never meant for me

Self-fulfilling prophecies in my dreams

Yeah the worlds keeps turning as I sleep

And my thoughts go out to the hopeless teens

Just know that you’re pain never goes unseen

I was just like you tryna chase a dream

Then my nightmares came

All I had was belief


Faith & hope

That’s what took me to the brink

Kept me afloat all the times I’d sink

Got me where I needed to be

Taught me it’s okay to just breathe

It’s like it lifted a veil all the gifts I could see

Now I’m living, just tryna be free

just tryna be free

And the rain keeps tryna put out my flame

There’s a fire in my heart, for you it’s the same

Every day I try to work on what’s weak

I try to be a cure all the times I speak

Cause i know that the sickness is within

We’re all battling trying not to wear thin

The beauty in the struggle is deciding if you win

Cause your mind is a weapon, thoughts flowing in the wind

Prayers taking me places that I ain’t ever been

Faith, Hope, Belief in the power of my hand

I often question will you ever take a stand?

Cause we all got a plan

And I’m trying to see it through, I know what’s for me but

Do you know what’s for you?

The song speaks for itself and the condition of Indigenous people, as well as the rest of the world. We were once a strong people, firm with a connection to Mother Earth and her many sources of life. During this pandemic, I have become more connected to medicines in order to boost my immune system and purify my blood so I can be well and healthy.

This pandemic has shown many people how sick the land and people are. This global sickness has given our people many opportunities to connect with themselves and their culture. Self-actualization is the foundation for most Indigenous hierarchy of needs, and within that is how we connect with our culture and the many tools that bring us wellness. Isolation and connecting to Creator/Creation has been the mantra of this whole quarantine, and within that, a lot of the old ways and teachings have come back to some people who are familiar with their culture.

I have found a lot of comfort and peace by believing in my prayers when it comes to medicines keeping me healthy. Indigenous people get medicines from Mother Earth because she puts life into all that grows upon her.

About the artist

Tanner “Tee” Drappeau comes from the Ihankthunwan Oyate, the Yankton Sioux Tribe. He currently is a senior at the University of South Dakota, majoring in Native Studies and minoring in language teaching. In his free time, he likes to create art and meaningful projects.

Indigenous Voices

This video is part of the "Voices" portion of the "Indiginous Impacts" project. "Voices" features Native American community members as they discuss and write about personal and social effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tanner S. Drappeau

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