Hoka Hey! Courage, Confidence, and the Battle Against Oppression

Simply put, Hoka hey is a Lakota word meaning “Let’s go!” or “Let’s do it!” expressed with courage and confidence in the face of great odds.

This phrase is often confused with the phrase “Today is a good day to die,” which, though a false translation, is apropos with the intensity of the expression, especially when taken in context.


In the book, Black Elk Speaks, there’s a recounting of the Battle of Little Bighorn describing the warriors under Crazy Horse: “…off toward the west and north they were yelling, “Hoka hey!” like a big wind roaring, and making the tremolo; and you could hear the eagle bone whistles screaming.”

They were fighting against the tyranny and oppression of the state. They were fighting for freedom. They were fighting for the common interest of leaving a healthy world for their children.

As Sitting Bull said, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”

For the purpose of this article Hoka hey! is used as a rallying cry amidst the dull drone of people pretending to be asleep, a charge of confidence in a world riddled with cowardice, a courageous assemblage despite fear, a disobedient interruption in the chain of obedience. Hoka hey is the peaceful warrior’s battle cry.

Let it be heard, especially in these times of state driven propaganda and willful ignorance.


“I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me.” ~ Joshua Graham

You do not need anybody’s permission to be free. You need to give yourself permission to be free, and then will yourself into doing the difficult work it takes to remain free.

For this you’re going to need courage, and a lot of it. Because everything around you, the state, statists, other states, will be working against your freedom. They don’t want you free because it undermines their belief system of control.

It erodes the illusion of their legitimacy. Either that or they’re confused about what freedom means, due to state conditioning and brainwashing from a centralized hierarchical chain of command.

So, it’s time to buck up, buttercup! Dig deep. Find the courage to be free despite those who wish to rule over you. Live fiercely despite the bleakness of the dark. In short: make sure your inner fire is burning brighter than the fire seeking to consume you.

Then get to work. Manifest the peaceful warrior’s spirit with a “Hoka Hey!” in the face of tyranny and oppression.


a-hoka3“In the end, I want my heart to be covered in stretch marks.” ~ Andrea Gibson

You need courage to spark the fire, but you need confidence to keep it lit. And if you want your inner fire to burn brighter than the surrounding fire, then that confidence needs to be exponential.

Confidence is the meat in the Hope-Commitment sandwich. Hope against despair, hope against the odds, hope against pessimism.

Commitment to a healthy cause, commitment to a common idea, commitment to freedom. Confidence is precisely what Crazy Horse had boiling up inside him when he uttered the famous battle cry, “Hoka Hey!”

But confidence is surprisingly difficult to maintain in a world that threatens our spirit and squashes our hopes. An attitude of inner-serfdom rears its ugly head and we become inclined to inertia under the boot of perceived authority. We’re apt to bury our heads in the sand and stick to our comfort zones while turning a blind eye to atrocity.

So, confidence sometimes requires a leap of courage. The two feed each other. Courage begets confidence begets courage. To maintain the fire of our courage we must stoke it with the kindling of our confidence. And that takes discipline.

It takes daily overcoming of our tendency toward inertia. It takes turning the tables on our inner-serf and telling him/her to rise to the occasion or stay out of the way. There’s work to be done.

The Battle Against Oppression

“We have every right, indeed a duty, to break certain rules and think things through independently. We need to learn a calculative form of disrespect. We need to learn a constructive suspicion of authority, a path between total compliance on the one hand and sullen skepticism on the other.” ~ The School of Life

a-hoka4Limited by mortality, infinite in passion, mankind is a fallen god trying to remember its godhood. Part of remembering our godhood is making the most of our courage and confidence and focusing both into channeling our personal power against the unhealthy use of power.

This is the battle against oppression. And it begins by harnessing courage and confidence and then directing it at liberating the self.

Once the self is liberated from oppression, courage and confidence become a self-sustaining feedback loop that can then be used to focus power against outside oppression.

“Hoka hey!” is the profound expression of this self-sustaining feedback loop. It’s an empowering phrase that can spur us, first into self-liberation, and second, toward the liberation of others.

It’s a power phrase that self-empowers through courage and confidence, while revealing to others how easy it is to take their power back in the face of those who seek to steal it. It’s Crazy Horse raging against the oppression of the state.

It’s Water Protectors raging against the “Black Snake” of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s our ancestors rising-up inside us and raging against all forms of oppression so as to leave a healthy world for our children. It’s the seventh generation rising-up inside us and doing the same.

It’s Derrick Jensen declaring to the world, “We are the governors as well as the governed. This means that all of us who care about life need to force accountability onto those who do not.”

Image source:

Hoka hey
Homeland security
Chinese proverb
When the last tree is cut…
Sioux War Cry by Frank McCarthy

Please share, it really helps! :) <3

Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.


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