Steven Sitting Bear

Aug 28, 2015


All text and audio copyright, 2015 by the Native American Development Center ©

Davis:              Tell us about yourself.

Steven:            My name is Steven Sitting Bear. My Indian name is [...], which means Sitting Bear. My tribal affiliation is Standing Rock Sioux tribe. I was born and raised on Standing Rock, back when they still- When babies were being born in Fort Yates. Like I said, I grew up there and went to high school there. I was very involved in our culture throughout my teen years. After I graduated high school, I'd gone on to the military. The Marine Corps for 4 years, then came back to Standing Rock.

                        My family status- Oh, current place- I'm back at Standing Rock right now. I'm working for Chairman Dave Archambault. I'm a political appointee. I'm his External Affairs Director, and I deal with just about anything to do with external affairs. Legislative issues with the State or the Feds, or funding issues with some of the Federal funding agencies, et cetera.

                        My family size, I have- I have 6 children, actually. I have 4 of my own that are biologically mine. I have adopted 2 of my wife's. Those are 6, but I also have a nephew that I've raised since he was about 3 years old. He's now 20 years old, so he's off doing other things, but I could say I have 7 children.

                        Education status, I have 3 degrees. I have 2 Bachelor degrees from University of North Dakota in Sociology and Criminal Justice, and I also have a 2-year certificate in Criminal Justice as well. I did complete all my degrees with honors. What else do we have? Honorariums, alumni. Career. My current position is as External Affairs Director for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. My place of work is in Fort Yates, at the Tribal Administration, working directly for Chairman Archambault. I've been there for just over a year and a half. My previous position was with the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, working very closely with the Executive Director, Mr. Scott Davis. I can give credit to my current position and opportunities I've been afforded due to the experience and leadership that I was able to get with working with Scott Davis.

Davis:              Okay, Steve, thank you for that. I just want to elaborate a little bit more. You mentioned that you grew up on Standing Rock Reservation. Can you tell us what that was like as a kid, and transitioning into high school and into an adult. What is that like, living on the reservation?

Steven:            For me personally, it wasn't easy. It was tough. I was born in 1976, so pretty much grew up in the '80's and '90's, early '90's on the reservation, before I left. The culture back then was much different. I guess I had some issues when I was young, because I didn't look at people in the context of race or any of those things. I didn't understand any of those things. I did know that there was some division there within our own community, within our state, even within my two families.

                        I'm half, call us half-bloods, whatever that means. I'm half Yankton [Yanktonai] Sioux. The other half is a mixture of a few other. It was hard for me as a young man to hear both sides of criticisms, or whatever it was. I didn't completely understand it until I got older. As I got older, I understand that there was a historical context to that, and it still exists today. That was just one part of growing up on the reservation.

                        I don't want to paint the picture that it was bad. I've gotten family friends that have been lasting throughout my life. It's been amazing. These guys have always been there for me, they're just like my brothers. Those experiences, those combined experiences, that I think we've all had growing up, we all understand what it was like. The challenges that were in place. The racism that we had to deal with when we left the reservation, going to school functions, or whatever it was. We all endured that together, but we did it together. There is some positives to that, as well.

                        As far as the education side of it, for me personally, I had a learning disability which kept me from keeping up with my reading. Reading comprehension skills weren't [00:06:00] there. I had a very difficult time throughout my education on Standing Rock. Coming out of a school that was, on average, the senior graduating from Standing Rock at that time, the average was about a 6th grade reading level. I never envisioned myself as ever going to college. Definitely not ever receiving honors in going to college. That came later, and that was just part of being committed to what I was trying to accomplish.

Davis:              You mentioned that you had challenges with reading comprehension. How did you overcome that? What helped you improve in that area? You mentioned that you graduated from college with honors in your degree programs.

Steven:            Yeah. Growing up, I had so many frustrations because the other kids seemed so much farther ahead. They could read a whole paragraph, and I couldn't keep up with them, just trying to do the words. Back then, they weren't talking about learning disabilities or any of that stuff. That came later, probably in the '90's, where you started hearing about dyslexia and things like that. There in the'80's there wasn't really any discussion about those things. It was an assumption that if you couldn't do the work, you're incapable of doing it. It was drilled into you, even in the schools, you're just not the person- You're just not ever going to do anything as far as-

                        That was part of my decision as going into the military. What had happened was, I'd gotten out of the military, I couldn't find a job. When I was in the military, I did a very good job when I was in there. I was able to attain the rank of a Non-Commissioned Officer. I was coming out of [00:08:00] my schools at the top of my class. I received a few commendations, things like that, for the work that I had done. I came out of the military thinking that meant something in the real world, back home. I came home and found out very quickly that a 2.0 GPA at a high school and 4 years honorable service in the Marines didn't really ... Wasn't the job skills that people were looking for.

                        I had found a job at our casino. It was about 6 bucks an hour. I was just happy to have a job. There were struggles that were going on during that time, just trying to make ends meet. I worked there at the casino for 2 and 1/2 years in different departments. I was able to work my way up the ladder a little ways. I realized that if I ever- That glass ceiling, so to speak, right. In sociology and psychology, we talk about this glass ceiling. If you don't have the credential to get beyond it, you're never going to see past it. I knew that I would have to go back to school eventually, and have to get that degree.

                        I tried. I went to college. This was the first time that I really took school serious. I failed. I couldn't keep up with the work and I got frustrated after a semester and a half, and I withdrew. It was really difficult to do that, because I had so much hope. What had happened was, I really had to do a spiritual look, within, and to say, "Can you do this?" No, nobody's ever told me in my life that I can do this. Nobody- Everybody has told me my whole life, "You can't do it." I had to come to terms with that and decide if I'm going to believe that or if I'm going to take it further and try. Really commit myself. So I did. The second time I went back to school, I went to Rapid City and my first semester was the same thing. I was having the same problems. I couldn't read. I just couldn't read fast enough. My muscles in my eyes weren't allowing me to do the things I wanted to do.

                        I started to have those bad feelings again about quitting. I said, "I've got to do something. I don't know what to do." What I did was, it was real simple. I took an index card. On this index card, on the top right, I cut out a slit about 2 inches, just enough to see each line as I'm going across. What I did was, for about a week, 2 weeks straight, I forced myself to read one word at a time. One syllable at a time, whatever it was to get through it. Sometimes, just one paragraph would take me about a half-hour to get through. I was able to do that, and I did that the whole semester. I got A's in all my classes.

                        The following semester, I came back, I was still using the card. Before I knew it, the card disappeared, and I was able to read normally. I did graduate on time with that 2-year degree. With honors, I was the top graduate out of that class. I eventually went back to school at the University of North Dakota for another 2 1/2 years, and I obtained my 2 Bachelor degrees. Also with cum laude honors, as well. It was something as simple as an index card. You could say that, but it wasn't. It was really a spiritual thing for me. To really look inside and say, "Are you going to believe what people are saying? That you're never going to amount to anything, or whatever it was?" I chose not to believe it. I'm glad I did.

Davis:              Well, that is powerful. It's the spiritual experience. Something inside you. You came to a point where you made a decision in your life. "I'm going to go forward, or I'm going to accept this."

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              This failure, or this status quo.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              You refused. You refused to live with this- Is it safe to say poverty?

Steven:            Yeah. At 6 bucks an hour, yeah.

Davis:              Poverty, struggling. You wanted to break a cycle. You maybe wanted to teach your kids education was important, and to have prosperity? Is that-

Steven:            Yeah. I never appreciated education until after I worked so hard to get it and realized that it's not just about receiving a piece of paper that says you accomplished something. It's the work that goes into it. It's really open, lightening your mind to always learn. Even if you have a Doctorate degree, you don't know everything. You always have to accept that you don't know everything. You always have to keep that open mind. That was probably one of the biggest revelations for me. That learning never stops. There's always someone who knows more about a situation than you do. To say different is just your ego talking.

                        It was very important for me, that part of it. It's also, I guess I should probably state, as well, my sisters and myself were first-generation college students. We didn't have, I guess, that structure within the home growing up that really pressed education as something that was even attainable. We were actually all able to go on to received our degrees. We all did quite well in college.

Davis:              Wow. Can I ask, in your family, are you the oldest, the middle child, or the youngest?

Steven:            I'm the middle child.

Davis:              You're the middle child?

Steven:            Yeah. I have an older sister and a younger sister.

Davis:              What would you say about being the middle child? Is there differences? Do you think that some people use that as a crutch? Do you feel like you're treated more poorly? You're kind of left out sometimes?

Steven:            I grew up- I'll be completely candid. Obviously, I've been public about this stuff before. My mother is absolutely amazing. My mother always has done whatever she could for her kids. She really helped us, even in college, with meeting our financial- Trying to get our bills paid, and things like that. She's always been very supportive. Our household, when we were growing up, was very dysfunctional. I can't really gauge a response to that question. Just because we were ... It wasn't the best environment for a child. We had to grow up very, very fast. We're all very close today. We're still healing from everything that occurred, we're all doing good. We're all drug-free.

Davis:              You don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but would you say it was tailored around alcohol, or drug abuse, or any type of domestic abuse, violence or abuse?

Steven:            Definitely, there was domestic abuse, multiple- I mean, there was mental, emotional. Obviously, if someone is telling you every day that you aren't worth anything, it's going to carry with you throughout your life. It's definitely a thing you still struggle with. Today, I'm almost 40 years old, 38 years old. There's other abuses as well, that were constant. I think as I got older, I started to realize when I had my own children, I need to create an environment that wasn't like the environment that I grew up in. I realized fairly quickly just how happy my kids were. They were always free to talk and just be kids, play. We didn't so much have that freedom, even within our home, to do things like that. I guess my goal with education, with everything, is I'm trying to create a whole new outlook for my family. I think I'm getting there.

Davis:              That's huge. I just admire your wisdom and your courage. It definitely takes courage to take a leap of faith, to go forward. Would you almost say that there's no other way, that there's no going back? That it had to go forward?

Steven:            Absolutely, absolutely. That was probably the biggest struggle for me, doing just that. People- What I found out was- This went on for years. Every time an opportunity would come up for myself, or whatever it may be, I'd sabotage it myself. I would- What's the word here I'm looking for? I didn't believe in myself.

Davis:              Maybe-

Steven:            Roadblocks.

Davis:              Roadblocks.

Steven:            I always put roadblocks in front of everything. Ah, I'll do that- Ah, but that means this won't work.

Davis:              Excuses ...

Steven:            Excuses. I think that really comes back to-

Davis:              Blaming ...

Steven:            Blaming- To the whole poverty scenario where-

Davis:              Victimhood ...

Steven:            Victimhood, people not wanting to be accountable for their own lives. I got tired of it. I just got to a point where I said, "This isn't working." I didn't want to live that way any more. I really did take a leap of faith. I had to sell everything that I had to get an apartment back at school. I didn't know how I was going to make ends meet. I had to be very innovative getting through college. I used hunting, actually, was my method to be able to pay my way through school. What I learned from that experience is, once you commit yourself to something like that, don't let anything get in your way. Don't make excuses. You see an objective, find out a way to get there. Even if it takes you all the way in the 360, and everything else before you get there. You'll eventually get there, as long as you stay objective.

                        I think some of the leadership, both Mr. Davis, and also Chairman Archambault, they see that, I guess. They recognize that that is my value to them, and also to my previous office, and also to the tribe. To the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Davis:              You mentioned, some of your advice to some of the people listening, who may be seeking some kind of guidance as they're listening to you talk about your struggle, and what your psychology was, and your spirituality in this process. Your advice is to stay objective, keep an open mind. You mentioned to gain some faith. You've got to have some type of faith. Would you speak about that a little bit? We live in two worlds, as Native Americans, so we either choose [00:20:00] traditional, Christianity, or we try to do both. We can only learn as much as what's available to us. That we have access to.

Steven:            For me, it's not so much affiliating with any religion, or faith, so to speak. In my heart, I know that there's a higher power. You feel it. I think people attribute it to different things, whether it's the Christian faith, or whether it's our culture. I've never held that against anybody. To me, if you believe in a higher power, something that's good, that's all that matters. I've put my faith into that. I do pray, and there isn't any specific God, I guess, that I pray to. I do know that there's a higher power that answers prayers, that's looking out for people who are looking for help.

                        I've struggled with addiction. I've struggled with the abuse issues I had growing up. There's points of my life that were really, really bad, where I didn't think I would make it through the next 24 hours. When those things happen, you look to faith. When you have nobody else to turn to, you turn to the one person, or the one being that's always going to be there, and that's God. I do, I attribute a lot of what I've been able to do to God. I can speak to that, actually.

                        It was something that occurred a couple years ago. The power of the truth, right? People say that all the time. It's kind of one of those things you hear, and you forget about. There's truly truth to [00:22:00] that. The power of truth. What I'm referencing is some of the stuff that we had to deal with in our household growing up. We had to deal with a lot of lies. I eventually realized, when you start building onto one lie, to try to cover it up, you see all this other dysfunction. All these other lies result because of it. Pretty soon you have this huge mess and nobody knows the truth any more.

                        I realized that. When I realized that I had to address that first lie that created the whole thing. Nobody wanted to talk about it. It wasn't popular. It completely shattered our family. Everybody's on different sides now, whatever it is. It had to be done, in order to protect the family. I have no regrets about that at all. The power of truth won over. When that happened, all the good things that I wanted in my life: To get my education, to get a job. Just working for North Dakota Indian Affairs, I never thought I would ever get a job like that. My current position, a lot of responsibility being placed on my by our Chairman, to make sure that our tribe is protected. Those things were all afforded to me, because of that. I truly attribute it to the power of truth.

                        I tell myself 3 things every morning, I tell myself throughout the day. I just repeat it to myself. Be honest, be yourself, and trust God. I live that every day. Sometimes, it's hard to be honest. Sometimes, it's hard to be yourself. Sometimes, you question whether or not you trust God. Those 3 things, they keep me ... I keep myself in check. The reason why those are so important to me, is because I don't ever want another lie to take control of my life, [00:24:00] and history repeat itself.

Davis:              That's your strategy? That's your weapon against evil?

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              When you say lies, I would assume that means all evil, kind of.

Steven:            Yeah, yeah.

Davis:              It's an unseen boundary, right? Around you that you keep very sacred?

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              You protect it by believing in the truth and confessing it with your mouth, it sounds like. To do that daily, sometimes, maybe, even incrementally during the day?

Steven:            Yeah. I tell myself that, I bet you, at least a half a dozen to a dozen times a day. If I'm going into a meeting if I'm not sure if I know all the facts, I'm not going to fake the funk, so to speak, and say something that's not true. If I don't know, I flat-out tell them, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I can find it for you." It just keeps me in check constantly. There's other things, too, that I constantly remind myself. I think it was- God, I can't remember which Chief it was- I've got it hanging in my office. It's a pretty long quote, but there's one piece of it that really stuck to me when I read it.

                        It's was that, "When in a lonely place, be respectful to all people, and grovel to none." That keeps me balanced, because I grew up thinking that I wasn't good enough, or whatever it was. I added a piece to that "and grovel to none," the piece that I added to that was, "Especially not yourself." A person's ego, when you get into positions of power, power corrupts. If you can't keep yourself in check, you're not going to be making the right decisions on behalf of what you're supposed to be doing. In my case, it's for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

                        I always- It goes back to being objective, and always staying focused on the goal. Making sure we get there, and not worrying about who's feelings you're hurting and how it's going to affect you politically, whatever. As long as you know in your heart that you're doing the right thing, you're going to sleep at night. Other people might be losing sleep, but you're going to sleep at night.

Davis:              You know, that is so interesting, and very, very true. I believe, too, that when you do that, you allow God to work through you, then. You're working on the basis of truth, which is his principle, because if you weren't, he can't work through you. It sounds like, although going back to when you made the decision to take that leap of faith, and to face the lion, so to say, and stand up to the biggest lie through your childhood. That brought exposure to evil.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              That really allowed you to go through some of that pain, but also to heal, I think. That's so important for our Native people, is to heal, otherwise we get stuck in that place. Then God can't do great things through us or for us if we don't heal. If we keep living quietly in that subtle evil, we're actually condoning it.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              If we don't speak against it and at it.

Steven:            Absolutely. I agree absolutely. This letter that I've written that really created all this havoc down in Standing Rock, about what the truth was- I revealed it, and there was something, I cannot- Before, it wasn't something I did haphazard, something that was impulsive. It was something that was discussed with family. It was something that was given options to the individual who created these lies. To have an opportunity to fix it. Rather than fix it, he chose the selfish route, and tried to cover it up even more.

                        Part of the history with that, was what I was seeing, was- Leading up to that letter, we had 3 suicides, to direct family, first cousins. It all goes back to this lie. Everybody knows what was going on, everybody knew what was occurring. It destroyed those 3 lives. These are people that I loved, that I grew up with. To see this continuing on, and this whole sick atmosphere that nobody knows the truth. [inaudible 00:29:06] Then the letter came out, and we had another suicide. I got blamed a lot for creating all that havoc, and making people face the truth when they weren't ready to, or whatever it was. I don't think that's the case at all. I think that the things that we all went through, in order for any of us to have healed, we had to address it.

                        We had to acknowledge it, face it, confront it, and get beyond it. There was a lot of animosity, and there still is to this day, about what I did. I'm fine with it. Like I said, I have no regrets. I love my family. I [00:30:00] was always there for them. At the same time, I'm not going to live with a lie. Now I see the freedom from that. I just have a much healthier lifestyle today, and things are going great. I'm not going to turn back.

Davis:              That is extremely resilient. You don't have to answer this, if you don't want to. When you're talking about lies, is there a family member, specifically, that the lies were coming from?

Steven:            Yes, it all started- I'll answer this, it's no big secret anywhere. The lies had come from the father in our family. The things that he was doing to the children. When it was brought to light- This is part of the burden that I carried most of my life, what that I knew what was happening. I'd seen it personally. I can't explain the atmosphere ... You think of a home, you think of a refuge, right? For your body and your mind. We didn't have a home. There was no refuge. That was a place that we didn't want to go back to. We never had that. It came to light when the truth- When the truth first came out- The truth didn't come out with me, the truth came out 20 years prior. The truth first came out and one of the victims spoke up against- Everybody turned against her. There was threats, there was- To the children, if they talk, things like that. Everybody knew- My sister knew, [00:32:00] [inaudible 00:31:59]. Knew that I knew, because I walked in on it. I seen it happening. I was probably 9 years old.

Davis:              Happening to another sibling.

Steven:            It happened to my older sister, yeah.

Davis:              Do you want to just share with the public what was happening? Was it a type of abuse?

Steven:            Yes, it was sexual abuse that was occurring. My sister knew that I'd walked in on it. Archie knew that I walked in on it. When my sister- A couple of years had passed, she got into high school, and there were still abuses going on through that entire time period. My sister was bruised up, so one of her coaches seen her trying to cover her bruises at practice. They questioned her, she told them the truth. What eventually happened was, she was chastised. I was threatened. The FBI came to see me, I liked. That's when my lies started. I was too scared of what was going to happen to me.

Davis:              Can I ask how old were you at that time?

Steven:            13.

Davis:              13? Yeah.

Steven:            Everything had come out. Everybody- What I'd seen happen in that situation was, the victim in the situation was alienated, chastised. Everybody turned their backs. Even I knew the truth. Everybody else knew the truth, too, because it wasn't just her. I found out later on, after everything had come out, that it was happening to our cousins, same things. Everybody knew, yet they knew the truth, but they all rallied around him, rather than the [00:34:00] kids. I had to live with that for 20 years. Where it really stopped was part of this leap of faith I mentioned earlier. When I decided that I had to do something to break free from all these chains of lies and sickness. Like I said, I had to sell a bunch of stuff, just so I could get my first month's rent. I didn't know what the hell I was going to do after that.

                        I got to Grand Forks, and was by myself. It was the first time in my life that I was living all by myself, and I was away from everybody all by myself. At that point, I realized, my whole life I'd been running from this thing. There was time, thoughts of suicide. There was an attempt at one point when I was a teenager, because of the whole thing that occurred. It was real tough. My whole life, I felt like I was running, running, running, running, running. When I got to Grand Forks, I was by myself. I couldn't run no more. All those lies, everything that had occurred had all come back. I was in- I literally locked myself in my apartment for 3 days, and I couldn't get a wink of sleep. Most of the days I just couldn't stop crying. I just ... For the first time in my life, I stood up- I acknowledged what had happened to us as kids. Our cousins, my sibling, and I realized that I don't have to do this any more.

                        That was part of that leap of faith. After about the third day in the apartment, I called my sister who this [00:36:00] happened to, and I told her, "I remember, I remember everything." To be honest, during those 20 years, I think I'd been telling myself this lie, over and over, for so long, that I almost started to believe it. So I called her, and I apologized. I said, "Carrie, I lied to the FBI. You know that. I'm sorry." I think I took her off-guard. She was going through the same thing. She had never fully got to deal with it. What happened was, everybody chastised her, everybody alienated her, everybody created all these lies about her to cover up their own- To cover up the truth, basically.

                        She recanted her statement to the FBI. When that happened, she lost all credibility. It just gave everybody even more ammunition. She's been carrying it with her as the person that disgraced the great family. It wasn't true. She was the one that had to deal with it and carry that weight. She did. I realized though, at that point, that it was the first time I ever said it. I told her, "I seen it. I remember everything, Carrie. I remember everything. I know you told the truth. I was just too scared to say. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if I was ever going to see my mom again. I didn't know if I was going to get beat up when I got home." At first, she didn't know how to take it.

                        About 2 or 3 days passed, then she called me. She was extremely angry that I brought it all back up again. I took the licks. I just let her say everything she had to say. How mad she's been at me her whole life because of this. That was really the first thing that brought the whole truth to [00:38:00] light.

Davis:  Wow. 

Steven:            Eventually, it led to what happened. Now we're all doing better. Carrie's had her struggles through her life, and she's doing a lot better. I'm obviously doing okay. My other sister is doing okay. We're past it. I still know all that. It's still hard, because I publicly disowned my father because of all these lies, and everything else. I gave him the opportunity to fix it. He didn't. It's still hard. I still loved him, regardless. I haven't spoken to him in almost 3 years because of all this stuff. I still struggle with that. I realize that what had to be done had to be done. Everybody tells me, "Well, you have to forgive him." I understand that, maybe I will someday. I can't, I can't do that until he acknowledges everything that he's done, he apologizes to everybody that he hurt. Until he does that, it doesn't matter if I forgive him or not, he'll continue doing what he's doing.

                        It's been a struggle, and it's been tough, but it's ... I'm still moving forward. My kids are all happy, and healthy, and we're all fed. Got a roof over our head, and we're good.

Davis:              What would you say ... What gets you through that? I mean, how does one who's been impacted- Traumatized, for years, how do you move [00:40:00] forward from that? I mean, psychologically, how does one- Is that the due diligence and prayer? Is there any other tool that helps you, whether it's people, or resources, or places?

Steven:            I've never ... I did try to go to counseling a couple times throughout those 20 years. It was not productive for me, because I wasn't facing the truth. I wouldn't acknowledge it. If I acknowledge it, then I've got to deal with everything else that comes with it. I don't think it was done intentionally, it's just your mind, the way of coping with things. Trying to survive. You try to do ... Your mind does things for you. All these years, I'd been pushing it down, trying to cover it up with whatever else to try to not address the issue. It was as simple as that, was addressing the issue. At that point, that's when everything started. It's hard, and I'm not going to sugar-coat it. "Well, all you have to do is tell the truth, and everything's going to be hunky-dory."

                        Just truly acknowledging something like that, a traumatic situation that a child- I still remember everything from when I was a kid, and I still struggle with it. I know today that it wasn't normal. It doesn't have to be normal. Now that I know, it's my responsibility to make sure it doesn't continue to happen.

                        Prayer was a huge- It was huge. I don't know how many times, during all those events, I didn't go to anybody. I didn't- After the letter came out, I had people [00:42:00] trying to contact me from everywhere. I shut down my social media. I shut my phone off for about 2 weeks straight, I just didn't communicate with anybody. I was by myself for the whole time period.

Davis:              Which could be dangerous.

Steven:            Which could be dangerous, absolutely. I didn't do it for recognition. I didn't do it for whatever. The community was involved in that thing. The father, he was in a position of trust and authority. He was the Police Chief. Everybody knew the accusations. Everybody had their own concerns from that time period, back when he was a police officer, doing things to other people. Everybody had a right to know. My sister was publicly humiliated afterwards. She was chastised. Everybody went after her. Everybody needed to know the truth. That was the intent behind the letter.  In speaking with my brother, who also passed away, that if I was truly going to do ... I was truly going to disown my own father, "You need to do it publicly, you need to do it with just cause." That was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.

Davis:              There has to be a lot of mixed emotions that just ... I couldn't imagine. The love just doesn't go away.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              I'm sure it comes and goes.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              You know, I think your story is an extremely huge story of resiliency. It's [00:44:00] powerful, though. Everything that you shared, how you approached it, how you looked at it, how God was the major player in this. What I get from your story is that he ... It sounds like he puts that spirit of courage in you.

Steven:            Um-hmm. (affirmative)

Davis:              That revelation in you, and that he worked through you. That he's real and that he helps us when we're the most broken.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              If we humble ourselves, and when you come to admitting, and you come towards truth, and you come to that place of just full of humility and brokenness, that he'll intervene and he'll take over. We have to allow him to.

Steven:            That weight, I can speak to that. That feeling when the truth is out, I put it out there, it literally felt like 1000 pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I didn't have to carry it any more. It was very hard to do that. It was scary because you don't know how people are going to react, if people are going to talk about you. None of those things matter, as long as you say the truth, and you know what you're saying is the truth, you're going to feel freedom. All the other stuff doesn't matter.

Davis:              The saying, "The truth sets you free," that's true?

Steven:            That's absolutely- It's kind of cliché, but honest- I can personally say that's what saved me, it really did. I don't know where I'd be today if I hadn't. I would still be doing what I was doing before.

Davis:              I just have one or 2 more questions to wrap up here. Would you say that the ... I should say, revealing the truth brought you freedom. Would you say that that kind of put aside, or put to rest, some of the addiction issues?

Steven:            Well, yes. I'll tell you just a quick timeline of what occurred. I revealed to my sister, I told you, and she was very angry. I knew that something had to be done. My idea was that I needed to talk to him and remind him, "I remember everything. You know I seen it." So that's what I did. What triggered it was the night before the confrontation, I got a message from my nephew, who I mentioned earlier that I've been looking after since he was a little boy. He said that he was hit, he was struck. I got really angry. I think it was from going through it myself. At that time, we had nowhere to live. I'd just graduated from college, and I was couch-surf, that's what they call it, you stay here and there. I was so angry about what happened, I went out there and asked my nephew what had happened. He told me. I said, "Just get your stuff. I don't know where we're going to go, we'll find somewhere." He started to get his stuff together.

                        Meanwhile, this is happening. Archie had come home, and I said, "This is it. I've got to confront him on all this right now." We got- We were outside in the front yard, and I flat-out told him. I said, "You're going to apologize to your daughter, for everything you did to her. Not only what you did to her as a child, but all this stuff. You ruined [00:48:00] your life, you ruined this family. You ruined it, you're going to acknowledge that." He wouldn't acknowledge it, even- He tried to avoid the discussion. At that point, I told him, "You're going to acknowledge it, or I'm going to expose you." We almost got into a fist-fight during this whole thing. That's what triggered the letter. What I was hoping, what I was praying for, was that he was going to come forward and apologize. I told him, "You don't have to apologize to me. You apologize to my sister. That's all you have to do. If you can do that, I'll forgive you, we'll move on." He couldn't do it.

                        What it led to was, I had told my cousins what had happened. About the confrontation. I told them what had happened when we were kids. This is where everything exploded. I had no knowledge of any of my cousins being abused. Once I put it out there, and I told them, why I confronted Archie, what I told him. I said, "I'm not covering up his lies anymore." They told me everything. Everything that happened to them as kids. It wasn't- It was a whole life I thought I was by myself. Then I realized this is all of us. This is all of us kids. Our whole generation had to deal with this. It was on my cousin's that I actually ....shortly after those discussions, he committed suicide. He was my brother. He's the one guy I always had…Sorry.

Davis:              That's okay, that's okay. I commend you, Steve. I really, truly commend you for sharing your story. It's obviously still a hurtful one. We don't need to continue to talk.

Steven:            I'm okay. Just give me a second to catch my breath. I'm okay. I had some issues with that. Everything that happened. The letter came out after that. It was on his instruction that I do it. He was the one who told me that if I do it, I have to do it publicly, and I have to give just cause. Now, that was the whole reason for that letter. I was scared. This is something that I still struggle with. The night I was going to send this letter off, I was backing out of it. I wasn't going to do it. I was too scared of the ramifications of the public eye. Of people knowing, and I was backing away from it. I decided that night that I wasn't going to send the letter. I laid down on the couch, I was staying over at my mom's place. I got a call from my cousin's son. He told me his dad just committed suicide.

                        There was a lot of things going on, we could feel the presence of both evil and good. Everybody felt it. There was things that were happening. It was faith, it really was, that kept that objective, I guess, that light going. Just stick with the truth and take the hits, and everything else. Do what you have to do to get there. I did, and I stuck to it. I think my cousin would be proud about everything. We're all beyond it now. It's not a lie that's holding us all down anymore.

Davis:              Yeah, that sets you free, and you can start moving forward for your family's sake.

Steven:            Yeah.

Davis:              Wow. That's great. Well, Steve, I just want to say thank you, and if there's anything else you want to add, you just elaborated so well on everything, I didn't have to ask very many questions, you pretty much covered things naturally. Is there anything else that you have? Is there something that you'd like to say to those who are struggling quietly, and in any kind of evil acts right now? Or just suffering an addiction? Or just any advice?

Steven:            My advice would be, be accountable for your life. Be brave. Don't ever, ever defer from the truth. If you can accomplish that, if you can accomplish to always be honest, not only with people around you, but with yourself ... If you can accomplish that, you're going to see your entire life change dramatically. It isn't going to be any counselor that's going to tell you this, or maybe you need to hear it from somebody, but it's a choice that you're going to have to make. If you can make that choice, you will see the benefits. It's scary, it's going to hurt, you won't know what's going to happen. This goes back to have that leap of faith. Have that trust in God. Whether you believe it or not, I know he exists, and I know that he's been there for me. I wouldn't be here today. I know that. I would not be here, where I'm at today, in this position if it wasn't for him. He was all I had. I didn't have anybody else telling me that, "You can do anything you want." I had none of that support system. All I had was him.

Davis:              Thank you very much, Steve. Thanks for sharing your story.

Steven:            Yeah. No problem.