AIFRA Amendments of 1994 do not include Marijuana

By Vi Waln

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) Amendments of 1994 were established to protect members of federally-recognized Indian tribes who attend Native American Church (NAC) ceremonies and ingest peyote. The AIRFA also allows members of federally recognized tribes to obtain permits to buy, possess and transport peyote for use in bona fide ceremonies.

According to Wikipedia, Section 2 of the Act speaks to the “Traditional Indian Religious Use of the Peyote Sacrament,” and reads in part:

(c) For purposes of this section – (1) the term ‘Indian’ means a member of an Indian tribe; (2) the term ‘Indian tribe’ means any tribe, band, nation, pueblo, or other organized group or community of Indians. . .(3) the term ‘Indian religion’ means any religion – (A) which is practiced by Indians, and (B) the origin and interpretation of which is from within a traditional Indian culture or community; and (4) the term ‘State’ means any State of the United States, and any political subdivision thereof.

People must be enrolled members of federally recognized tribes to either possess peyote or attend NAC services. Consequently, this law applies only to peyote. The AIRFA Acts of 1994 were not created to recognize religious organizations where other controlled substances, such as marijuana or ayahuasca, are used.

James “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, who has been in the news many times over the last several years, made headlines again last month with claims that sacramental marijuana was seized by officials. Mooney, along with Joy Graves, claim to be leaders of the bogus Oklevueha NAC based in Gunnison, Utah. According an article published on January 26, 2016 on the Court House News website, the pair is suing the US government, along with the US Postal Service, in Federal Court for seizing the marijuana.

Consequently, Mooney, along with his wife Linda, were caught with 12,000 peyote buttons, which were seized by law enforcement, in 2000. The non-Indian couple subsequently agreed to stop using peyote as a condition of the dismissal of several charges involving a controlled substance. So, the Oklevueha chapter is not affiliated with any bona fide NAC which considers peyote as a sacrament.

The article also states that “Graves says she mailed 5 ounces of marijuana to a church member in Ohio on Dec. 10 last year, but it never arrived. A week after she mailed it, she says, the Post Office’s tracking website reported that her package had been seized by law enforcement.”

Mooney and Graves claim that their marijuana is considered a sacrament and was seized illegally. Marijuana is legal in Oregon, where Graves heads up a bogus NAC chapter. However, it is illegal to send marijuana through the mail. Again, the AIRFA Amendments of 1994 don’t apply to marijuana.

Consequently, a Brief of Amici Curiae was filed in 2014 with the Ninth Circuit Court by the National Council of Native American Churches, The Native American Church of North America, The Azzee’ Bee Nahaga of Diné Nation and both The Native American Churches of Oklahoma and South Dakota. This brief was filed in Docket No. 14-15143: Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc.; Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney (Plaintiff/Appellants) v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., as US Attorney General, et al. The brief states:

The Amici NAC organizations do not recognize Oklevueha as a chapter, nor does it recognize Mooney as a member. In addition, Amici organizations do not recognize, condone, or allow the religious use of marijuana, or any other substance other than peyote in any of its religious services. To the contrary, the only plant that serves as a sacrament in the NAC is peyote, and without peyote, the NAC services could not take place. The Amici organizations fully reject Appellants’ contention that marijuana serves as a substitute for peyote in services of any Native American Church.

Similarly, the AIRFA Amendments do not apply in this case. The statute expressly and exclusively provides an exemption to federal and state drug laws for members of federally-recognized Indian tribes who use peyote in traditional Indian religious practices. Mr. Mooney, by his own admission, not a member of a federally-recognized tribe, and in this case, neither he nor Oklevueha seeks legal protection for the use of peyote. The AIRFA Amendments do not apply in a case like this one where an individual who is not a member of a federally recognized tribe seeks legal protection for the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana.

Mooney has a website where he claims to have been given a blessing in 1998 by the late Leslie Fool Bull, who served as the Chairman of the Native American Church of South Dakota. Mooney alleges that he was told by the late Fool Bull to “take this medicine to the white man.” He also claims on his website that this “blessing” was witnessed by Kirk Fool Bull, son of the late spiritual leader.

However, in an affidavit dated January 28, 2016, Kirk Fool Bull denies witnessing his late father giving Mooney any kind of blessing to distribute peyote to non-Indians. The late Leslie Fool Bull only wished Mooney safe travels, after the non-Indian paid the late Fool Bull an impromptu visit in the Rapid City Regional Hospital. Kirk also states in his affidavit he only gave Mooney his phone number so the non-Indian could call when he returned home safely.

Mooney is dangerous. He puts our right to use and possess the sacred peyote at risk with his attempt to include the use of marijuana in the AIRFA. Our medicine people fought hard to guarantee our freedom to attend our sacred NAC ceremonies and use peyote as a sacrament. Mooney, as well as countless non-Indians like him, are a threat to that freedom.

Flag flown at half-staff at Fort Laramie in memory of Lakota woman

Honoring Maynadier & Spotted Tail

This was in the StarHerald on Jan. 31:


In respect for and remembrance of Mary Jane Spotted Tail, the flag flew at half-staff at Fort Laramie National Historic Site on an uncharacteristically calm morning at the Grand Old Fort on Friday. Mary Jane is the direct descendant of Lakota Sioux Chief Spotted Tail and his beloved daughter, Mni Akuwin, who he buried at Fort Laramie in 1866 per her last request.
Mary Jane Spotted Tail was instrumental in having Mni Akuwin re-interred at Fort Laramie NHS in June 2005, and in 2007, with adopting the descendants of Col. Henry Maynadier, commanding officer of the Fort at the time of the original burial, into the Spotted Tail family. A memorial to Mni Akuwin is located on the hill near the hospital ruins, and plans are being made to establish a memorial to Mary Jane at the site by descendents of both…

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Sicangu Youth Council Seeks Help with Research




The Sicangu Youth Council put together a display honoring the 10 known students who are buried in a cemetery in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The traveling display was set up during the Sinte Gleska University Founder’s Day Activities last week. Photo by Vi Waln.

By Vi Waln

ROSEBUD – The Sicangu Youth Council is asking local families to search their family tree to see if they could possibly be related to any of the students who are buried in the cemetery at Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The youth group has identified at least 10 students with ties to Rosebud who are buried in Carlisle’s cemetery. Other relatives could also be buried there. Several local family surnames can be traced to students who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School from 1879-1918. The names are included in the following paragraphs.

Chief White Thunder’s Son and Sister-in-Law: Knocks Off and White Cow.

Children and relatives of Black Crow: Plenty Aunt, Strikes The Enemy, Passes Through The Enemy and Rain Water.

Chief Iron Shell’s children and relatives: Thunder, Short Leg, Runs After The Moon, Her Pipe and Looking Woman.

Children and relatives of Chief Blue Tomahawk: Joe Taylor, Strikes First, Warrior and Ear.

Children and relatives of Good Voice: Bull Man, Kills, Looking Woman and White Woman.

Children and relatives of Whirlwind Soldier: Frog, Kills Without Wounding, Running Horse and Big Boy Earth.

Children and relatives of Big Star: Henry Thigh, Frank Yellow Bird, Young Bird and Little Girl.

Children and relatives of Geese: Behind, White Man, Little Man, Hawk Charging Daylight, Kills Without Wounding, White Whirlwind, Yellow Ear, Shoes and White Horse.

Children and relatives of Coarse Voice: Little Wolf, One That Kills 7 Horses, Wind Blows, White Whirlwind, Negut, Chit-set-suh, Passon, Buckskin Jim, Smoke, Shevano, Piah and Kopesit.

Children and relatives of Fills The Pipe: Makes Trouble in the Front, Runs in the Clouds, Crockery Face and Yellow Lod.

Children and relatives of Chief Quick Bear: Wants To Be Chief, Kills Plenty, Kills The Enemy and Paints Dust.

Interpreter Tackett and children of Spotted Tail: Tackett, Stays At Home, Little Scout, Bugler and Talks With Bears.

Children and relatives of High Bear: High Bear, Yellow Jack, Yellow Hair and Pretty Woman.

Children and relatives of Iron Wings: Red Medicine, Bull Man, Mrs. McKenzie and Looking Woman.

If you have any questions or would like more information on how to research your family tree, please contact Marcida Eagle Bear at (605) 441-5668 or the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (605)747-4255.

Dances With Wolves Star Visits Rosebud


Mary McDonnell II

Mary McDonnell attended a birthday celebration held in rural Parmelee for spiritual leader Roy Stone, Sr. She was also adopted as a daughter in a Hunka ceremony by the late Fred and Doris Leader Charge. She is pictured here with her Hunka relatives, Shelley Means, Rita Means, Shylee Brave and Damon Leader Charge. Courtesy photo.


By Vi Waln

ROSEBUD – Mary McDonnell, the actress who played Stands With A Fist in the movie Dances With Wolves, spent the weekend in Rosebud.

The actress attended SGU Founder’s Day activities over the weekend. She facilitated an acting class for interested people on the SGU campus on Friday morning. She also participated a wacipi grand entry and was publicly honored by SGU.

“28 years ago I came here for the first time,” stated McDonnell at the honoring hosted by Sinte Gleska University (SGU). “Doris Leader Charge took me under her wing and she taught me many things about all of you. She took me to my first pow-wow. I’m very proud to be associated with Sinte Gleska University. I’m deeply grateful to all of you. It’s a whole lot of fun to be here.”

She took time to attend a Saturday afternoon celebration in rural Parmelee organized by family members of Chief Roy Stone, Sr. in honor of his birthday.

McDonnell received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1990 movie. She learned her Lakota lines for the movie from the late Doris Leader Charge and the late Albert White Hat, Sr.

The public came forward to shake hands with McDonnell during an honor song for her at the wacipi Saturday evening. In addition, many local citizens posted pictures of themselves with McDonnell on their Facebook pages over the weekend. McDonnell currently stars in the TNT series Major Crimes, in the role of a police officer working in the major crimes division.

Hostile Work Environments are Harrassment

Hostile Work Environment


By Vi Waln

Working in a hostile environment affects you more than you realize. I’ve experienced what it’s like to work for organizations that condone hostile environments. It isn’t fun.

Today, I would estimate that 99.9% of employed people on the homelands are subject to hostile environments at work. Sometimes the hostility comes from your supervisor, other times it comes from your co-workers. A hostile work environment is basically harassment. Consequently, hostile situations might be deliberately created to force you out of your position.

For instance, according to Wikipedia:

A hostile work environment may also be created when management acts in a manner designed to make an employee quit in retaliation for some action. For example, if an employee reported safety violations at work, was injured, attempted to join a union, or reported regulatory violations by management, and management’s response was to harass and pressure the employee to quit. Employers have tried to force employees to quit by imposing unwarranted discipline, reducing hours, cutting wages, or transferring the complaining employee to a distant work location.

There are specific instances on Rosebud where the examples outlined on Wikipedia’s site are happening now. Unfortunately, management usually doesn’t care about you. If your presence threatens management, they will allow their personal insecurities, or will carry out orders from higher ups, to find a way to get rid of you.

A common instance could involve a supervisor who distorts a report made by an employee. For example, this might happen when an employee writes up the supervisor for a violation. Instead of working to get past the incident to improve the overall work environment, the supervisor might decide to turn the situation around and paint the employee out to be the bad guy. The employee is usually fired soon after this.

Supervisors, directors or managers would do well to help their employees improve their performance, instead of trying to find ways to get rid of them. Employees who have been with the organization for a long time are obviously committed to their jobs. There is no one immune to problems in their personal or family lives; a good supervisor will realize this and work with their committed employees.

Today, however, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve been in your position for a long time. You might think your years of service will work to guarantee your position at an organization. There are times when management will go after the employees who have been with the organization the longest, with the intent of pushing them out.

When management seeks to get rid of a long-time employee, they are obviously not willing to devote the time or effort to help the staff member improve. Good management seeks to build up their employees. I definitely wouldn’t want to work for someone who wouldn’t hesitate to find a way to terminate me the first chance they got.

Another example of a hostile work environment is when you suffer from actions by your co-workers. I have had first-hand experience with this one. I’ve always been a person who is not afraid to honestly verbalize what I think. Even though it may make my co-workers angry, I believe I have to speak up for myself.

Consequently, I once worked at a job I really enjoyed. At that time, management believed in my ability to get things done, so I worked with minimal supervision. Soon, two of my co-workers took issue, for reasons unknown to me, with my job performance and basically ganged up on me. They started running to the boss with allegations about me. It got so bad that I was being called into my supervisor’s office to explain myself. I grew weary of being targeted and eventually left the job.

If you are being victimized by management or your co-workers, I would suggest you begin looking for a new job. It isn’t worth your mental or emotional health to continue working for an organization that obviously doesn’t want you there. Change is difficult but it has to be faced by many of us.

An alternative to seeking a different job is returning to college. There are many opportunities for us to seek a college degree. We have our local tribal colleges waiting for us to enroll. There are also countless online opportunities for you to obtain a college education. Go back to school and become educated so you can one day work to help your employees improve, instead of looking for ways to fire them.

There comes a time in life when you have to put yourself first. Staying in a job just because you’ve been there for many years is not good, especially if management or co-workers are intent on sabotaging you. There is always something better out there, you just have to find it.

Sicangu Youth Host Meeting with Carlisle Descendants


The Sicangu Youth Council prepared a place of honor for each of the 10 children and teenagers who are buried in the cemetery at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Each chair is covered with brightly colored cloth. A picture, cup, sage, abalone shell and cedar are also part of the chair. The chairs will be kept by the youth council until the remains of these children and teenagers are returned for reburial in our homelands. Photo by Vi Waln


By Vi Waln

ROSEBUD – The first meeting of Sicangu Lakota descendants of children who are buried in Carlisle, Pennsylvania was emotional, educational and empowering.

“Our children went to the youth conference in Washington DC last summer,” stated Russell Eagle Bear, who serves as Rosebud’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “On the trip back they visited the cemetery at Carlisle, Pennsylvania where they experienced something deep and powerful.”

The meeting was held to share information about the Rosebud students who attended Carlisle and died there. At least 10 students, who are buried at Carlisle, have been identified with ties to Rosebud. The Sicangu Youth Council is seeking the help of descendants of these students in order to bring their remains home. The group has obtained the support of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association.

“I am sure those children at Carlisle, as well as students at other boarding schools, said prayers every day to come home,” stated Sandy White Hawk of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. “It has taken this long for those prayers to be answered. Your work is vital because it’s going to heal that part of us that hasn’t been talked about and hasn’t been healed ceremonially. You are the answer to those ancestors’ prayers.”

“It must have been heartbreaking for parents. It was a shock for these children, they didn’t understand what they were going to go through. I’m hoping some other relatives recognize the names and look at their family tree to help us identify the descendants of these students,” Eagle Bear told those who had gathered in the tribal council chambers.

“I am here for Friend Hollow Horn Bear,” stated Duane Hollow Horn Bear. “She was an older sister to my grandfather who raised me. We need to know what happened to these children, we need to heal the anger and resentment we have around what happened to us. We have suffered significant losses, including our culture, history and children. When you look at those pictures, you don’t see one child smiling. That’s because there was nothing to smile about.”


“When you look at those pictures, you don’t see one child smiling. That’s because there was nothing to smile about.” Duane Hollow Horn Bear, Grandson of Friend Hollow Horn Bear. Photo by Vi Waln

Hollow Horn Bear described his experience at St. Francis Mission Boarding School. “I received 50 swats with a wooden paddle when I was 10 years old. This was for taking ½ of an apple out of the dining room. I took the apple because I didn’t have any money to buy popcorn.”

“Because of my experience, I believe I have knowledge of what my grandmother went through,” continued Hollow Horn Bear. “We carry that pain. We want to heal. We have to look at all the losses we suffered and process them. We need to heal and this is a big part of it.”

“This is going to start a movement to heal historical grief,” Eagle Bear said. “I’m thankful our young people are stepping up to lead this, we need to listen to them and give them the guidance they need. The family tree I did in a class at Sinte Gleska University brought awareness to me about my relatives. I’m hoping other relatives or descendants come forward to guide the youth.”

The members of the Sicangu Youth Council who were present at the meeting were Jayden Rose Whiting, Christopher Eagle Bear, Sydney Horse Looking, Bailey Arrow, Shylee Brave, Iwoblu Big Crow, Asia Black Bull, Maddie Big Crow, Lana Murray and Thomas Big Crow. The young people read the names of the deceased children and other information for the group. They also distributed wasna to everyone present. Some of the members described the emotional and spiritual experience they had while visiting the cemetery.


Sicangu Youth Council member Sydney Horse Looking gives spiritual food (wasna) to Brandon Bear Heels. Photo by Vi Waln

A power point presentation and video were shown to all. Prayers and songs were led by Sage Fast Dog and Brandon Bear Heels. A meal was served to all following the presentation.

Rosebud tribal members are asked to look into their family tree to determine if they could be relatives of the students who attended Carlisle. The following 10 children and teenagers are buried in the cemetery, all have ties to Rosebud.

• Dora (Her Pipe) Brave Bull, a 16 year old female student who arrived at the school on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 04/24/1881.

• Ernest Knocks Off-White Thunder, an 18 year old male student who arrived at the school on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 12/14/1880.

• Lucy Pretty Eagle (Takes the Tail), a 10 year old female student who arrived at the school on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 03/09/1884.

• Warren Painter-Bear Paints Dirt, a 15 year old male student who arrived at the school on 11/30/1882 and passed away on 09/30/1884.

• Friend Hollow Horn Bear, a 17 year old male student who arrived at the school on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 05/21/1886.

• Young Eagle-Foot Canoe, a 14 year old male student who arrived on 11/14/1883 and passed away on 06/28/1886.

• Dennis Strikes First-Blue Tomahawk, a 12 year old male student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 01/19/1881.

• Rose Long Face, an 18 year old female student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 04/29/1881.

• Maud Swift Bear, a 15 year old female student who arrived on 10/06/1879 and passed away on 12/14/1880.

• Alavan or Alvan (One That Kills Horse), a male who passed away on 03/22/1881.

If you have any questions or would like more information on how to look at your family tree, please contact Marcida Eagle Bear at (605) 441-5668 or the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (605)747-4255.

Human Trafficking and Slavery are Very Real


By Vi Waln

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation stating: “Every person deserves to live freely and without the fear of being followed or harassed. Stalking is a violation of our fundamental freedoms, and it insults our most basic values as a Nation. Often perpetrated by those we know — and sometimes by strangers — stalking is a serious offense that occurs too frequently and goes unreported in too many cases.”

President Obama also proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. He states “One hundred and fifty years ago, our Nation codified the fundamental truth that slavery is an affront to human dignity. Still, the bitter fact remains that millions of men, women, and children around the globe, including here at home, are subject to modern-day slavery: the cruel, inhumane practice of human trafficking. This month, we rededicate ourselves to assisting victims of human trafficking and to combating it in all its forms.”

Lakota people living on the homelands are in denial about the prevalence of both stalking and human trafficking. Despite the denial you might have about stalking or human slavery and trafficking, they are very prevalent in our area. Stalking, slavery and trafficking could even be affecting your relatives.

Stalking is not limited to a man following a woman around. Men will stalk men and women will stalk women. This crime is committed blatantly every day here on our homelands. Law enforcement needs to take reports of stalking on our homelands more seriously.

Also, with the growing number of people addicted to various kinds of drugs on our homelands, we will likely see even more instances of human trafficking. Human trafficking is slavery. People are basically kidnapped and then sold to others for sex. There is no discrimination in human trafficking. Men, women, teenagers and children are at risk of being exploited.


In October 2014, I attended a Department of Justice Consultation on the Violence Against Women Act. Tribal leaders from several tribes were in attendance at this meeting. Brendan Johnson was our US Attorney at that time. He was instrumental in prosecuting several offenders involved in human trafficking. Here is an excerpt of his remarks from that consultation:

“Some of the women who have disappeared have been a part of commercial sex trafficking. Here in South Dakota there have been about 20 different individuals who have received federal life sentences for commercial sex trafficking, there were 3 of them in the last 4 years. We have had close to a 100 victims of commercial sex trafficking here, 40-50% of those victims have been Native American females.”

“Two of those victims were from the Rosebud Reservation. They had just arrived in Sioux Falls and didn’t have a penny in their pocket. The trafficker picked them up on Minnesota Avenue just by the Wendy’s restaurant and during their time there he would give them alcohol and drugs. Then he would bring men over from the meat packing plant to have sex with these women and they would pay him to have sex with them. If they refused he would rape them. This is something we need to work on together, we all have a role to play in stopping the sex trafficking of Native American women.”

Many of our women leave the homelands to find work in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Pierre and other metropolitan areas. Their migration to these places is not without risk. Like Johnson stated, many arrive in these cities broke and without a place to live. They are vulnerable to active pimps, who will stalk them to take advantage of their homelessness, as well as their alcohol or drug additions, to immediately force them into sex slavery.

Our people are the most valuable resource we have. There are so many instances occurring where Lakota people are going missing. Some of them may have been kidnapped and sold as human slaves. Children are missing from countless communities in this country. Unfortunately, many of these missing children, teens and adults are likely being trafficked for profit as human slaves.

Our women and children are sacred. They do not deserve to be stalked or trafficked. I encourage you to help your relatives as much as you can. If they move to the city, be sure to check on their well-being with a phone call or a visit. Contact the authorities if you believe a relative or someone else is being held against their will.

Human trafficking and slavery are very real here in South Dakota. Educate yourself and your family members about stalking, human trafficking and slavery. The continued denial of these crimes has to end.