Our Children Deserve Better

Our Children are Sacred
Our Children are Sacred

I want to see justice done for the young Lakota students from American Horse who were the targets of the demented behavior of drunk white men at the Civic Center last month. Many people are justifiably angry over this incident. But what about the similar alcohol related incidents happening on every Rez?

Right now there are children living in homes with adults who put them at risk. I think it’s safe for me to say that we are all aware that alcoholism is a scourge our people have not been able to completely overcome. We all know about the homes where children are often in harm’s way because of adults who drink alcohol, use drugs or gamble. Many children do not have enough to eat because of the adult’s addictions. Where is our outrage about that?

I realize there was alleged racism tied to the incident that happened at the Rush hockey game. Personally, I’ve learned to accept that most racist people will likely never change. Also, most racist people will probably not admit to being racist. Alcohol generally lowers our inhibitions. So when those men had had too much to drink, it was easy for them to utter their racist taunts.

Racism aside, you and I both know of children who have had beer or other alcoholic drinks spilled on them in their own homes. We might know of children who live in homes where adults are smoking meth or snorting prescription pills. Many children grow up watching regular drinking parties in their own living rooms. Some children are the victims of crimes which happen while the adults they trust blacked out or passed out because they had too much to drink. Why isn’t the media all over these crimes?

So many people say the children are sacred. But I have learned that this phrase is largely lip service. If we really believe our children are sacred, we would be doing more to help them have a better life. Our Lakota children deserve a happy life, free of the stress of living in a home with alcohol or drug addicted parents. They deserve a life where they do not have to worry about what they are going to eat for supper (if anything) or if there are any clean clothes to wear to school tomorrow.

The same level of outrage—which is being expressed over the hockey game incident—could be expressed over the conditions some of our children are living in on our reservations. I wonder what the children who live in alcoholic homes (where beer might be spilled on them regularly) are thinking. They may be questioning why no one is addressing the alcohol parties happening in their own homes.

Sometimes alcohol isn’t a factor in the abuse our children suffer. Last evening I stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a few things. I noticed a man in the story who was not wearing a coat, even though it was very cold outside. This man seemed very friendly and was being very sociable with several other customers in the store. He seemed like an okay guy.

I often must remind myself to never judge a book by its cover.

When I paid for my groceries and went out the door, there were two small children standing outside the door. Neither one had coats on. I asked the little girl where her coat was and wasn’t she cold? She said no. Then the man with no coat on, who I initially thought was an okay guy, came out and started yelling the F word at those two little children.

All three of them got into a suburban to leave. I could still hear the man yelling obscenities at the two small children. Every other word seemed to be the F word. How much do you want to bet me that those little children will be using the F word regularly when they enter Head Start?

I could have confronted the man about his behavior but I didn’t. Too many times the bad behavior of adults is turned on someone who tries to intervene. He probably would have started yelling the F word at me. Maybe my behavior is just as bad as his because I chose not to say anything.

I wondered about that little boy and girl all night.

We have to do more to make sure our children are safe, both at home and while at public events. Our Lakota youth deserve to have a life free of intoxicated adults. They also deserve to have a life free of adults who regular yell the F word at them. I want you to be a sober role model for the children in your family. I also want you to think about the power of the words that spew from your mouth. The F word carries negative energy. We would do well to eliminate the F word from our vocabulary.

I pray for our children every single day. Last night I came home and burned cedar for those two little kids.

Elected Officials Push for KXL Pipeline Construction

By Vi Waln
Sicangu Scribe

January 10, 2015–The intent of elected officials to fast track the construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline was made apparent this week after votes were cast in South Dakota, Nebraska and on Capitol Hill.

First, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) voted unanimously to deny a motion to dismiss filed against TransCanada by the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The SD PUC listened to oral testimony by several intervening parties regarding the motion to dismiss. Their final conclusion was TransCanada’s petition doesn’t “demonstrate that the Project no longer meets the permit conditions,” which was the basis for Yankton’s motion to dismiss.

Thomasina Real Bird, General Counsel representing Yankton, thanked the other Tribes and organizations for their support in the motion to dismiss. “We look forward to participating in this case as it moves forward with that unified approach,” she stated in a press release issued by the Tribe.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe initially filed for the dismissal of TransCanada’s motion to limit discovery in their application for re-certification of the expired permit for the KXL pipeline. Yankton was joined by the Rosebud, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes in the motion to dismiss. Dakota Rural Action, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rosebud’s Tribal Utility Commission and the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy also joined Yankton in the action to dismiss.

“Ihanktonwan appreciated the powerful coalition that came together to stand against the human rights violations and the concocted processes. It is clear that the Commission is walking in unfamiliar territory,” stated Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Treaty Chair.

Then, in one of their first official actions of 2015, the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 3—Keystone XL Pipeline Act, by a vote of 266-153 late last week. The bill would fast-track the construction of controversial pipeline. The legislation now moves to the Senate for their approval.

“Why is this bill so urgent? The answer is money. Money and power,” stated Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “The pipeline might not do much for the American people, but it is worth a whole lot to the Canadian oil industry. Since 2009 TransCanada has spent almost seven million dollars in lobbying expenses related to Keystone. And now TransCanada wants what they paid for.”

“Who does this new Republican Congress work for, foreign oil companies or the American people?” Senator Warren asked. “Today, their first priority is to advance a pipeline that means a whole lot to an army of well-paid lobbyists and a whole lot to a giant foreign oil company. I didn’t come here to do favors for TransCanada. I’ll be voting no on this.”

The White House also issued a statement last week which read in part:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3 [Keystone XL Pipeline Act], which would immediately authorize the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline . . . Because H.R. 3 conflicts with longstanding Executive branch procedures regarding the authority of the President and prevents the thorough consideration of complex issues that could bear on U.S. national interests (including serious security, safety, environment, and other ramifications), if presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.

In addition, the Nebraska Supreme Court Justices allowed a ruling by the Lancaster County District Court to stand when they did not get a majority vote to overturn the lower Court’s decision. Four of the seven justices were in agreement with the argument posed by three landowners who contended that Legislative Bill 1161, which was passed in 2012 and gave the governor authority to approve a pipeline route through Nebraska, was unconstitutional. The ruling needed five votes in order to be overturned.

“While the outcome may not be what we had hoped for, I believe we have successfully sent the message that Nebraska citizens are willing to stand up and fight back against the politically corrupting influence of rich and powerful corporations,” stated landowner plaintiff Randy Thompson in a press release issued by Bold Nebraska. “Even if LB 1161 has been found to be technically legal, it still does not make it right, and the passage of this legislation represents a gross injustice to many hardworking Nebraska families.”

“Despite [the Nebraska Supreme Court] ruling, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe will maintain its steadfast commitment to opposing TransCanada, the Keystone XL Pipeline and the wholesale destruction of Unci Maka that the Alberta tar sands mining represents,” stated Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Cyril Scott in a press release. “We will continue to fight our case and make sure that our voices are heard in front of the [SD PUC], as TransCanada cannot start construction of this black snake that our ancestors warned us of so many years ago until the case before the [SD PUC] is resolved.”

Guns A Blazing

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) is composed of three members—Chairman Gary Hanson, Vice-Chairman Chris Nelson and Commissioner Kristie Fiegen— all elected by the registered voters.

Voters put elected officials on every level into their positions to serve the public. These are people just like you and I who are elected as public servants. We put our trust in their ability to make decisions on our behalf. We expect them to work for the best interests of South Dakota and all of us who live here.

Currently, the SD PUC is charged with oversight of the recertification process for the permit which will allow TransCanada to construct their Keystone XL pipeline through our state. In October 2014, the PUC granted party status as interveners for forty two applicants.

I did listen to the live broadcast of the December 9, 2014 meeting. The following verbatim remarks were made by Chairman Hanson after he listened to some attorneys and interveners talk about how they believed more time was needed to prepare their cases.

“My fellow commissioners may have a different opinion. My thought on that is that we certainly want to make certain that everyone has an opportunity to participate fully. Also, though, for the past two years we have been reading about the potential for this hearing to take place. It’s not a surprise by any means. And I am, as Chairman, not going to slow up this process on a basis that gee whiz we don’t have enough time to take a look at some of this information. The fact is that numerous folks who are parties to this have stated in the media that they’re going to come with—obviously didn’t say this, but—guns a blazing. They’re going to be prepared, they’re going to have everything ready to go and now after at least a year and a half of hearing that we’re all ready to go, we’ve got lots of things we’re going to present—I’m not going to allow people to slow up this process just for the purpose of slowing it up. There has to be good reasons and good presentations to convince me that, there’s nothing [that’s] a surprise that this is come about and having heard repeatedly that parties are ready to go, it really surprises me now to hear that we need time to look at these things. I’m not going to listen to responses from that right now, I’ve heard the presentations . . . I stand by my statement and I think everyone fully has seen in the news media, statements by parties stating that they are ready to go. This is not new, this is not a surprise to anyone.”

The Keystone XL pipeline will affect all of us if it is built. The construction of this pipeline will change South Dakota forever. South Dakota’s PUC must show patience to the public they serve. As a public servants they must refrain from scolding interveners or accusing them of saying things they didn’t actually say.

Authors research new book on Sioux World War I Veterans from South Dakota

Ira Hayes

By Avis Little Eagle
For Teton Times

MCLAUGHLIN – Authors Michael and Ann Knudson, who published the book “Warriors In Khaki – Native American Doughboys from North Dakota,” are now researching a book on Native American World War I Veterans from South Dakota.
They are reaching out to families of all the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota who may have a WWI serviceman in their family. They are looking for any photos of servicemen in uniform or in their everyday lives. Anything that shows what they looked like, at any age, would be worth having. They are also looking for any documents, letters, and family stories they can find, including what the servicemen did with their lives after the war and where they are buried.
The couple will get copies or take a picture of the photos so families do not have to let the photos leave their possession.
The authors can be reached via e-mail at mikeannknudson@msn.com or their mailing address is 22 Garden Drive, Bismarck, N.D.5850-5355. Anyone on Standing Rock who is interested in setting up a time to meet with the Knudson’s can also contact Standing Rock Councilwoman Avis Little Eagle, and she will assist the family members in setting up a meeting or scanning photos, etc.
Their new project will be a very valuable reference book as they will be compiling the data from State historical archives, and National archives located in Kansas and DC. Their book will detail service awards, battle accomplishments and service affiliation of the South Dakota Native Ameriicans of the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, Sisseton, Crow Creek, Flandreau Santee Sioux and Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes who served in World War I. This information is not readily available in any existing work.
Mike Knuduson has been interested in history and genealogy since high school. He served in the Peace Corps in Morrocco and went back to college where he received his master’s degree and had a career with the Soil Conservation Service in North Dakota. He retired in 2011 and now has more time for research on family and military history, especially the World War I era. His wife Ann, served 28 years in the North Dakota National Guard and retired in 2012.
Mike is from Wisconsin and Ann is from upstate New York. They met in college in Syracuse, NY. they have lived in North Dakota since 1977, in Wahpeton, Lisbon and Bismarck and reared two children.

NO KXL DAKOTA prepares for SD PUC Dec 9th hearing

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PIERRE, SD – Tribal members and leaders, farmers, landowners, concerned citizens, as well as a cadre of attorneys, are all headed to Pierre, South Dakota next Tuesday to challenge TransCanada’s attempts to block full disclosure of the facts surrounding the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline recertification. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) granted TransCanada a permit in 2010, but the company is required to obtain recertification of its permit because it did not commence construction within four years of the permit being issued.

The hearing before the SD PUC is set for 9:30 a.m., Dec., 9th, 2014 at the Capitol in Pierre, SD on TransCanada Keystone’s motion on how much information may be sought by the more than 40 Intervening Parties on recertification of the controversial pipeline. TransCanada filed its motion on October 30, 2014 after unsuccessfully attempting to keep environmental, Indigenous nonprofits and interested parties from intervening in the SD PUC proceedings.

“In another blatant attack on public involvement and accurate information in the SD PUC permitting process, TransCanada has proven true to its own record of circumventing public input, landowners’ rights and the rights of tribal nations in its path with an attempt to limit discovery. We hope the South Dakota PUC Commissioners will let the voices of rural and tribal people be heard in this process instead of once again, being drowned out by a greedy self-interested multinational and their endless cadre of lawyers and legal maneuvering. What do they have to hide?” asked Chas Jewett, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and an individual intervening party in the SD PUC proceedings.

The NO KXL DAKOTA coalition was recently organized to present a unified voice of both Indians and non-Indians concerned about the potentially devastating effects of the Keystone XL pipeline. The coalition has many concerns about the pipeline that they will be insisting the SD PUC consider in fully vetting the pipeline’s potential impacts on the people, lands and waters of South Dakota and the Tribes.

“An energy independent country does not seek independence at all cost to those on the pipeline corridor. There exists a human right to live safely in our aboriginal, treaty and unceded territories,” said Faith Spotted Eagle, one of the organizers behind NO KXL DAKOTA coalition and Chair of the Ihanktowan Treaty Council.

Among these growing concerns, after other recent pipeline spills in Montana and Minnesota, are the likelihood of contamination the pipeline poses for the Oglala Aquifer, an important and sole source of drinking water for many Tribal and non-Indian communities. TransCanada also seeks to have the pipeline constructed across permeable soils in the environmentally sensitive Sandhills – an area that risks being irreparably damaged by a pipeline spill. Tribal people have particular concerns about cultural resources and sacred sites that were not taken into account when the pipeline was originally permitted in 2010. The State of South Dakota was not aware of these Tribal concerns during the initial permitting process because there was no Tribal participation in the proceedings. Finally, in the four years since the original permit proceedings, the need to address climate change and the negative effects of oil extracted from Canadian tar sands may have on that has become critical.

“As a person with serious long-term health issues, I am very concerned about the potential for groundwater contamination if the KXL pipeline is built. South Dakota has scarce water resources, and it is essential to conserve clean water supplies for personal consumption, and also for our state’s number one industry – agriculture,” said Gena Parkhurst, a concerned homeowner of Rapid City, SD, who has also filed to intervene in the SD PUC proceedings.

“TransCanada wants to limit the discussion on what matters to the health and future of South Dakota. They want to limit the right to due process. They want to dismiss the rights of Mother Earth and our duty as human beings to ensure her protection. Therefore, we are united as Native people, as non-native people, as the NO KXL DAKOTA coalition, to see those destructive wants become TransCanada’s unaccomplished dreams,” stated Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, another intervener and organizer behind NO KXL DAKOTA and Oceti Rising, an organization dedicated to building awareness and capacity with the Oceti Sakowin or Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations and other Tribes along the pipeline route.

To view the entire docket proceedings and filings including a copy of TransCanada’s Motion, go to the SD PUC website at http://www.puc.sd.gov/Dockets/HydrocarbonPipeline/keystoneupdate.aspx
CONTACT: Faith Spotted Eagle (605) 481-0416
Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (507) 412-7609
Sabrina King, Dakota Rural Action (605) 939-0527

Scott files injunction to delay Ethics Hearing

Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was granted a Temporary Restraining Order against several Tribal Officials. The order postponed an Ethics Hearing scheduled for November 17, 2014
Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was granted a Temporary Restraining Order against several Tribal Officials. The order postponed an Ethics Hearing scheduled for November 17, 2014

By Vi Waln

ROSEBUD, SD – Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was granted a temporary restraining order against the Tribal Council to delay an ethics hearing which was scheduled for November 17.

The hearing was scheduled after the Ethics Commission came to the consensus that a violation had occurred under Article 1 of the Bylaws of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe which speaks to the duties of officers. Court documents show the recommendation for a hearing was due to Scott allegedly violating Section 1, which reads:

“The President shall manage and administer the affairs of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, including the supervision of tribal employees, subject to the resolutions, ordinances and instructions of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council. No tribal employee or tribal member shall be subjected to unfair and political repercussions and/or retaliation by the President or any of his/her representatives in any matter. Such action will be documented and referred to the Ethics Commission of the
Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Tribal Council. The President shall vote only in case of a tie. (Amendment X effective September 20, 2007 – vote 585 for; 150 against; 71 ballots spoiled or mutilated)”

A temporary restraining order was granted to Cyril Scott as the Plaintiff. The defendants listed in the court record include Lorraine Walking Eagle (Chairwoman of the RST Ethics Committee), Julie Peneaux (RST Tribal Secretary, on behalf of the RST Tribal Council) and William Kindle (Vice-Chairman of the RST Tribal Council). The order enjoins “the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Ethics Committee from conducting a hearing on this matter in council chambers on Monday, November 17, 2014.”

Scott, who is represented by Pierre Attorney Al Arendt, alleges that the initial reason for one of the two ethics complaints was already heard in the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court and dismissed. The two ethics charges referred to in court documents were filed by Tamara Lynn Wilcox and Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr.

The court record contains an Inter-Office Memorandum signed by President Scott on October 21, 2013 informing a tribal program director that one of his employees “has filed charges against me for making the decision to lay off some of your staff.” The memorandum gave the director a “directive to you to discharge your employee Tammy Wilcox immediately.”

This memo prompted the filing of an ethics complaint on October 30, 2013 by Tamara Lynn Wilcox. She denies filing “charges on President Scott.” Her complaint also states that she did file “a civil complaint on Cyril “Whitey” Scott in his individual capacity on October 15, 2013.” Her ethics complaint also states that she was “not employed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe” on October 21, 2013 and so was not subject to the RST Personnel Policies and Procedures.

Scott also alleges that he did not receive any documentation in a timely manner regarding the nature of the two complaints. Court documents also state that Scott alleges that his due process rights were violated by not being allowed to be party to an executive session held by the Tribal Council with the Ethics Committee on October 9, 2014. The court documents also read that the executive session was allegedly “out of order” because “Vice President Kindle removed himself from these discussion because of their impropriety. No chairman pro temp, was named to replace him pursuant to Roberts Rules of Order.”

Four causes of action are listed in the complaint filed by Scott. The first one speaks to the alleged violation of Scott’s due process rights. The second speaks to the fact that the complaint filed by Wilcox was already “litigated in tribal court.” The third action alleges that the Ethics Committee refused to give Scott “an opportunity to respond to the complaint initially filed with him.” The fourth cause states that “The RST Tribal Council and Ethics Committee’s attempts to remove the President/Plaintiff are unconstitutional.”

The temporary restraining order on CIV. #14-490 was issued by the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court on November 14, 2014. The order was signed by Tribal Court Judge AnneMarie Michaels. A hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction has been scheduled for December 5, 2014 at 2:00pm at the Tribal Courthouse.


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Four Directions and SD NDN PAC Host Three Native Rallies Across the State To Increase Voter Turn Out

MISSION, KYLE, AND RAPID CITY, SD – Four Directions Inc. and SD NDN PAC, two organizations dedicated to increasing American Indian voter turnout and participation in the political process hosted a series of three Native Vote rallies this past weekend on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, Pine Ridge Reservation, and in Rapid City. The non-partisan rallies were attended by over 600 enthusiastic voters, and featured appearances by a number of tribal, local state, and statewide candidates, including Senate candidate Rick Weiland.

Headlining the Native Vote rallies were by performances comedy sketch group the 1491s and musician and activist Frank Waln. Four Directions Inc. Executive Director, O.J. Semans said, “American Indian voters are a historically disenfranchised group and it is important that our voices are heard in the political process. Rallies like these help bring awareness and excitement about the power of the Indian vote.”

The American Indian population in South Dakota is the fastest growing demographic group in the state, and has swayed elections in the past, including Senator Tim Johnson’s race in 2002 and more recently the Rapid City Mayoral election. “We know the power of the Indian vote what we can do when we are united,” said SD NDN PAC Director and House Representative Kevin Killer. “We just have to get out and vote.”
The 1491s, a nationally recognized comedy sketch group was a big draw for rally attendees. Group member Dallas Goldtooth said, “It’s amazing that we can bring a message of empowerment to people through our humor.” He went on to say, “the people we elect are going to have a say on issues important to Indian people – issues like the KXL Pipeline.”

The rallies also featured Frank Waln, who was recently dubbed the new voice of Indian country at a concert where he opened for Willie Nelson and Neil Young in front of 7,000 people. “We as Natives have so much to offer, yet we’ve been pushed back for so many generations,” said Waln. “Through our voices, through voting we can make a better life for future generations.”

Senate Candidate Rick Weiland spoke at all three rallies, where he shared his trademark musical message with potential voters. All statewide candidates were invited to the Native Rally. Republican Mike Rounds was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, and Independent candidate Larry Pressler did not respond to the invitation.

Four Directions and SD NDN PAC are continuing to increase American Indian voter participation through voter registration, early vote campaigns, voter score cards, voter protection programs, and get out the vote activities.

Lakota Vote Rally held on Rosebud

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MISSION, SD – Local residents who attended the Lakota Vote Rally were asked to participate in the November 4 Election by telling nine of their friends to vote.

“Go get me nine votes,” stated Rick Weiland, Democratic candidate for South Dakota’s US Senate seat. “Talk to people in the grocery store, make nine phone calls or send out nine emails telling people to get out and vote.

Current representation in Washington, DC have turned down $272 million dollars a year, according to Weiland. That money would have been used to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Weiland also urged those in attendance at the rally to vote yes on Initiated Measure 18, which will raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour effective January 15, 2015. The rate will also be adjusted each year to keep up with cost of living increases and 62,000 South Dakotans would be affected. People could get “a little bit more [in their paycheck] every two weeks if we get out and vote,” he said.

“I am unabashed in my opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline,” stated Weiland. KXL will “cut through the heart of America to ship dirty tar sands through a cheap steel pipe from China. It is going to leak, it will not give us jobs. I will fight to my last breath to stop KXL.”

Weiland has been endorsed by all nine tribes in South Dakota. “We can do better by our tribes,” he said. “We’ve neglected our treaties and tribes, we need to turn that around here in South Dakota. Weiland also gave a musical performance with local artist Skeeter Leader Charge during the rally.

“Until we get a democrat in the Governor’s office there will not be a balance of power,” stated Susan Wismer who is on the ballot for South Dakota Governor.

“It is very important and critical to get out and vote,” stated Wizipan Little Elk. “It used to be that tradition was when we didn’t support something we would walk away from it or not show up. That might have worked a long time ago but now it’s a different world. We have to make our voice heard. We need to develop a culture of voting and participating, instead of turning our backs and not voting.”

“Vote for your interest,” stated OJ Semans of Four Directions. “Vote for what moves you and your people. Our ancestors fought to protect the land and water. We all have an obligation to do the same.”

Entertainment was provided by Frank Waln, Rosebud’s own hip-hop artist. “We need to vote because no one is going to come and save us, we have to do that ourselves,” he said. Waln was also joined on stage by local singer Kodi DeNoyer, who performed with him previously in the Nake Nula Waun group.

The 1491s Comedians also made an appearance and kept the crowd laughing with their hilarious skits. The group has several YouTube videos online. Dallas Goldtooth, Ryan Red Corn and Bobby Wilson also performed at rallies held in Kyle and Rapid City.

“The secret of this election and whether we win or lose, are the votes that will come out of Indian Country,” stated Weiland.

The Power of the Native Vote

2014 ballot

The national mid-term elections will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. I want to thank all of the Lakota people who have worked tirelessly to register voters. Many used their own resources to bring you a voter registration form. They did an awesome job.

In order to be sure my vote counts, I made an effort to cast an absentee ballot earlier this month. If you live in Todd County, you can vote early at the County Building in Mission, South Dakota. The last day to vote early by casting an in-person absentee ballot is Monday, November 3, 2014 at 5pm.

I see many Native American journalists ride the fence when it comes to speaking out either in favor of or against political candidates. Yet, I believe we have too much at stake in this election for anyone to ride the fence. So let me give you a little background on Rick Weiland (Democrat), M. Michael Rounds (Republican), Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler (both Independents) who are on the Senate ballot for our state.

A Vote For Sovereignty flyer being circulated on Facebook lists how the candidates for the lone US Senate seat from South Dakota stand on land, water and health. Three examples used are (1) the Keystone XL (KXL) Pipeline, (2) Tribal Land Acquisition and (3) the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which is part of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

Weiland opposes the KXL pipeline. The flyer states there is no immediate information available on his stance regarding Tribal land acquisition. He supports the Affordable Care Act, which includes the Indian Health Service Improvement Act. I voted for Rick Weiland.

Rounds supports the KXL pipeline. He fought the Yankton Sioux Tribe’s attempt to prevent the transfer of federal lands along the Missouri River to the State of South Dakota. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes the Indian Health Service Improvement Act.

Howie supports the KXL pipeline. The flyer states there is no immediate information available on his stance regarding Tribal land acquisition. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes the Indian Health Service Improvement Act.

Pressler supports enhancing existing oil pipelines. He supported legislation to impose county taxes on newly acquired Indian lands and require Congressional approval to remove the land from county tax rolls. He opposed Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land acquisition. He believes the Affordable Care Act is flawed but here to stay.

I do not support the KXL pipeline. I am in favor of any Tribe working to acquire land. And for the first time in my life, I can actually afford paying for my own health insurance coverage due to the Affordable Care Act.

You might not agree with the way your tribal, state or federal government operates. But until the Constitutions of these governing bodies are rewritten, the systems will remain in place. So get involved and be an active participant in choosing your government officials. The power of change is in your vote.