February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen dating violence in Indian Country is an issue every one of us should be talking about. It is up to parents, school employees and other trusted adults to educate our young people about what is a healthy relationship and what is not healthy. Violence is very subtle in relationships.

Teen dating violence is also known as intimate partner violence or intimate relationship violence and is a serious problem in this country. Teen Dating Violence affects about 10% of all teenagers between the age of 12 to 18. It includes stalking, harassment, as well as physical or sexual abuse.

In February 2023, I listened to young people from California talk about teen violence. They spoke on issues which affect all young people across the country, including Indigenous teens.

Ana Campos spoke about her experience as a 17-year-old survivor of intimate partnership violence. She works with Laura’s House, a domestic violence shelter in Orange County, California. She said part of the reason why so much domestic violence happens in teens is because they can’t recognize red flags in the relationship.

Campos believes providing education at school teaching the difference between romantic relationship red flags versus green flags is crucial in teenagers lives. When students aren’t taught about what dating violence really is, they will grow up to be adults who perpetuate the cycle of abuse that should have stopped when they were young.

For example, if there were no healthy relationships to witness firsthand as children, they will learn to behave in the same way as their parents did or still do. When children grow up in violent homes, they will likely have the same behavior as adults.

Ana Campos

“People don’t know what teen violence is. A lot of people think it is just physical but it’s mental, psychological and so many other ways,” Campos stated.

For example, “young men do think women and young girls are not as good as men. I think there definitely is this superiority that they feel in themselves and that isn’t cool,” Campos said. “Society also pressures males to be the masculine one or to have super big egos.”

Teen males might feel pressured “to be the dominant one and for people to assert that dominance they could think of showing that through violence. Perhaps that’s why domestic violence is happening with youth,” Campos concluded.

Listen to other young people talk about teen dating violence in this video.

Digital dating abuse getting you down? In this video we see how teens can stand up for healthy relationships by becoming part of That’s Not Cool! For more information, or to become an ambassador, visit us at www.thatsnotcool.com

As Indigenous people and extended family members, we are responsible to model healthy relationships to our young people. We are responsible to create the change for our young people. However, many of our people did not grow up witnessing any healthy relationships within our extended family. Violence is happening in homes right now.

Historical trauma affects most of us in Indian Country. This trauma tends to manifest in our contemporary lives as dysfunction and at-risk behavior. Alcohol and drug use aggravates many underlying issues passed down to us through inter generational trauma.

Our children need healthy relationships in their lives to know how to behave. When our children aren’t exposed to any healthy relationships, they won’t have any examples to draw from to choose how to act. If you live with children, please know you are a role model. Be conscious of your behavior.

Maya Henry also spoke for the youth from Peace Over Violence, a sexual and domestic violence, intimate partner stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center in Los Angeles, California. Maya is 16 years old.

Maya Henry

“If you never see examples of healthy, non-abuse love in textbooks, in sex ed class, on TV, in your favorite novel, and you are also already perpetually dealing with trauma that often comes from being in a disenfranchised community, like LGBTQ it just creates a horrible environment where it is hard to understand what constitutes a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship,” Henry said.

“Trauma can only lead to more trauma, it just exists in a never-ending cycle where nobody wins and everybody loses,” Henry continued. “And that encompasses all types of violence, gun violence, physical abuse and partner violence.”

According to the Indian Health Service (IHS), approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. American Indian and Alaska Native young women are survivors of dating violence or will experience dating violence at some point in their lives.

Many young people believe the lack of dialogue about relationships or dating leads to the lack of dialogue about problems with these relationships or teen dating violence. Parents and other trusted adults are some of the most important people in youth lives.

“Dating and intimate relationships are still something that is so sparsely discussed with youth,” stated Armaan Sharma, a sophomore from Fremont, California. He works with the Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE).

Armaan Sharma

“If parents don’t initiate conversations about dating or relationships or create a safe space for discussion, teens will (a) lack education about these topics and will have to turn to other potentially misleading sources or (b) will not be comfortable discussing these topics with parents, ever,” Sharma said.

Teen domestic violence can bring serious short-term and long-term consequences. Healthy relationships in our lives will tend to have a positive effect on our emotional development, which helps with future relationships. Abusive relationships do the opposite. Victims of dating violence are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, antisocial behaviors, depression and anxiety, as well as engaging in unhealthy choices such as alcohol and drug use.

“Parents, learn to have a conversation with your children from a place of love and acceptance, as opposed to shame and blame. Because once you talk to a child and you are shaming them and blaming them – and not just a child but anyone – people shut down,” stated Kandee Lewis, CEO of Positive Results Center and Founder of Black Women Leaders of Los Angeles.

“We’re not going to have any kind of conversation if you are shaming and blaming me,” Lewis said. “And that’s what happens a lot of times in abusive relationships – they are shaming and blaming and making the person who is being abused feel like it is their fault, when it is never their fault.”

“We didn’t just walk through just one pandemic, we’ve walked through five pandemics – the pandemic of COVID, the pandemic of sexual assault, the pandemic of domestic violence, the pandemic of economic disparity and housing insecurity. Now parents must work two or three or four jobs and our children don’t have the same opportunity to speak with a trusted adult,” Lewis said. “If you don’t take the time to talk to your child, someone else will. And that other person may not have their best interests at heart, because that other person might be the abuser.”

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship of any kind, immediate and confidential support is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s project focused on supporting young people by visiting loveisrespect.org, calling 1-866-331-9474 or texting “LOVEIS” to 22522.

Iron Shell member of Midwest Honor Flight

Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. is shown leading the flag retreat by Lakota veterans during the 2014 Rosebud Fair & Wacipi. Photo by Vi Waln

Rosebud, S.D. – Korean veteran Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. was part of the most recent Midwest Honor Flight, held to honor soldiers with complimentary travel to memorial sites.

Iron Shell, a 90-year-old descendant of Chief Iron Shell, was accompanied by his son, Eugene Iron Shell Jr. The weekend began with a banquet for all the veterans in the Sioux Falls Convention Center the evening before the Midwest Honor Flight. The group of 82 veterans were hosted for the trip by the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation Mission 7 to visit military memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C.

“He was one of the very few Native Americans to ever go on the Midwest Honor Flight,” said Iron Shell Jr. “Most Indian Country veterans do not know about this opportunity.”  The tour included World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iwo Jima (Marine), Navy and Air Force Memorials.

Iron Shell witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery. He enjoyed visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial. He remembered George, his oldest brother and WWII Veteran, while viewing the WWII Memorial. 

“The most memorable part of his journey was the homecoming, after we got back to Sioux Falls,” stated Iron Shell, Jr. “There were people at the airport to welcome them, and all of the families were waiting at the Sioux Falls Arena to say welcome home.” 

Sicangu elder Eugene Iron Shell, Sr. holds the proclamation issued by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. President Scott Herman declared September 19 as Eugene S Iron Shell Sr Day. Photo by Eugene Iron Shell, Jr.

A proclamation issued by Scott Herman, Rosebud Sioux Tribal President, declared September 19, 2021 as Eugene S Iron Shell Sr Day. It read in part: “Eugene Steven Iron Shell, Sr., age 92 years was born on August 6, 1929 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Iron Shell, Sr. in Rosebud. He was one of 13 siblings and was baptized into the Catholic Church by Fr. Eugene Buechel, SJ. He went to school at St. Francis Mission From 1935-1947. When the 82nd Airborn Division recruiter came to St. Francis, he enlisted in the United States Army along with his brother James and also Doley White Eyes.”

Eugene’s first military assignment was as a parachute rigger in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was an outstanding solider and was quickly promoted to Corporal. In 1951 he was transferred to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. He was a combat infantryman, participating in the battles along the 28th parallel at Kumwa Valley and the Chorwon Valley. He also participated in the breaking up the prisoner riots at Koje-do, Korea.

Eugene came home in August 1953. He then went back to the 82nd Airborne Division, this time to the 325th Airborne Infantry, where he was the guidon bearer for Company E. He was promoted to Staff Sergeant, he was subsequently assigned to the recruiting office of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC. His final assignment was with Company I, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Fort Campbell, KY and Japan.

Eugene later earned a degree in counseling. He was a counselor at both the St. Francis Mission and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He has been sober since June 13, 1975.

Eugene is a member of the Kit Fox Warrior Society, a position held by his great-grandfather Arnold Iron Shell. As a young man Eugene, met the late Bill Schweigman, a yuwipi man, and learned the traditional Lakota ceremonies. He sun danced at Crow Dog’s Paradise for 30 years.

Eugene has been a member of the Chauncey Eagle Horn-Phillip Iyotte American Legion Post 125 for 44 years. He served as a post commander and as Todd County Commander for 16 years. Since 1978, he has provided military funeral honors to thousands of veterans across the Rosebud Reservation. He still volunteers when needed for the firing squad at funerals.

Eugene has 3 adult children: James, Ronda and Eugene Jr. He has one living sister Theresa Iron Shell-Hiatt of Hastings, NE. He has many grandchildren and extended family members. He resides with family in Rosebud, SD.

Eugene Iron Shell, Sr., a Korean War Veteran, pauses for a photo at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC. He holds a photo of himself as a young soldier. Photo by Eugene Iron Shell, Jr. 

Midwest Honor Flight is a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization in Northwest Iowa, South Dakota, and Southwest Minnesota dedicated to providing Veterans with respect, honor, and closure with an all-expense-paid trip to our nation’s capital. Interested veterans or their family members must apply to be considered for the Midwest Honor Flight and are placed on a waiting list.

“I was able to sign up one of our Vietnam Veterans for Midwest Honor Flight,” said Eugene Iron Shell, Jr. “I think all of the Veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam should have the opportunity to visit The Wall or the Korean Memorial or the WWII Memorial. I have applications if anyone is interested. It is a very simple process.”

US Rep. Johnson honors Vietnam Vets

Rosebud, S.D. – US House Representative Dusty Johnson presented a Challenger Coin and lapel pin to several Vietnam veterans in a special ceremony held here last week.

John Leroy visits with Congressman Dusty Johnson about the the Sicangu Lakota Warriors Eagle Feather staff at the Rosebud Fairgrounds. Photo by Vi Waln.

The presentations to Vietnam and Vietnam veterans are a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense, Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the US House of Representatives. On behalf of the Congressional office, the veterans received a Challenge Coin, which depicts the seal of South Dakota on one side. The seal of the US House is on the other side of the coin. 

The Vietnam era was “a dark time in our country’s history,” stated Congressman Johnson. “This is an opportunity for America to step up and try to right one of those wrongs.”

Rep. Johnson speaks at the special ceremony held to honor Vietnam veterans. President Rodney Bordeaux (left) also offered remarks. The Sicangu Lakota Warriors served as Color Guard. Photo by Vi Waln

“Indian Country and the Lakota have always celebrated their warriors,” continued Johnson. “America, as a whole, has not done as good a job. Today, we will be shaking the hands of these Vietnam and Vietnam Era veterans, thanking them for service.”

A grateful nation thanks and honors you – is the message engraved on the back of the Challenger Coin. “That is the message we did not provide properly when people returned home from Vietnam,” Johnson said.

Other local veterans who were honored included Anthony Castaway (Army), Francis White Bird (Army), Fremont Fallis (Army), Charles Mancini (Air Force), Bill Menard (Army), Jim Herman (Marines), Orlando Morrison (Army) and OJ Semans (Navy). Others recognized were Vaugh Matt Gordon (Army), Melford Leighton (Army), George Leneaugh (Army). Robert Kelly served in the Marine Corp but was not able to attend. His metal was accepted by Jasmine Henry.

It is estimated that 42,000 Native Americans served in the military during the Vietnam era. According to the Vietnam Memorial, there were 248 American Indians/Alaska Natives killed during the Vietnam war.

The Sicangu Lakota Warriors served as the Color Guard for the honoring. Eyapaha was Pat Bad Hand, Sr.  Bad Hand also sang the Lakota Flag Song, a Vietnam veteran song and an honor song. Staff members from Senator Thune and Senator Rounds office also attended the event. The RST Veteran’s office provided lunch to all who attended.

The lapel pins were presented to recognize, thank and honor local Lakota military veterans who served during the Vietnam War. Eligible veterans included living US veterans who served on active duty in the US Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location, are eligible to receive one lapel pin.

Copyright © 2021 Vi Waln, All rights reserved.

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Lots of small Lakota children are being traumatized as you read this. Parents, guardians, grandparents or other caregivers are inflicting trauma on our children every minute of every day. Trauma isn’t just physical abuse. Mental, emotional and spiritual trauma is also child abuse.

There are lots of small children acting out the effects of trauma. For example, there are many children on our reservations that learn how to be a bully in their homes. People responsible for the care of children may often believe they only have to feed, clothe and provide shelter for the small children in their care. They haven’t a clue about how their personal behavior is traumatizing the children in their home.

For instance, there are a lot of Lakota people right now whom are heavily addicted to using large amounts of drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse regularly happens in front of the children in the home. There are also many children who witness extreme levels of violence in their homes. Yelling, physical assaults and adult dysfunction are just a handful of behaviors our children and teens are exposed to every single day. Consequently, these are behaviors which inflict trauma on our youth.

People who have to regularly cuss are also inflicting trauma. There are articles out there right now that encourage the use of cuss words by adults. When people cuss all the time or are unable to carry on a normal conversation without interjecting the F word between every other spoken word, it creates negativity in the home.

Also, when every other word out of your mouth is f***, you can be certain the children and teens in your care will follow the example you’re setting. This is very obvious in the number of small children who call adults “bitch” or other disrespectful names. It’s not funny when I hear a 4-year-old child say f*** you to an adult.

Right this very minute, there are small children home alone. They were not sent to school today. Many don’t have clean clothes. Others don’t have any food in the house because the SNAP card was sold for drugs or alcohol. These are traumatized children who will grow into adults and likely suffer a myriad of issues in their lives.

The trauma children suffer stays with them. It isn’t forgotten when they reach adulthood. They will likely inflict the same kind of trauma on their own children, perpetuating the vicious cycle we all witness on a regular basis. Our children deserve a healthy childhood in a home with caring, sober adults. Our children deserve to eat a good meal, have clean clothes to wear, as well as look forward to a safe home after school and on weekends. Parents are obligated to help their children grow into healthy adults.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) “are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.

ACEs include, but are not limited to: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, intimate partner violence, mother treated violently, substance misuse within household, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce and an incarcerated household member.”

May 10 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. We often claim our children are sacred but most of us don’t walk the talk. It’s up to you to raise healthy children. Do your part to break the vicious cycle.

Sicangu Lakota children enjoy the annual wacipi hosted in their honor at the Rosebud Fairgrounds.

Vi Waln (Sicangu Lakota) can be reached at cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

We all need to vote

Lakota people didn’t always have the right to vote in this country. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920. Our grandparents were reluctantly granted citizenship in 1924, even though our ancestors were born on Turtle Island. Citizenship in the United States guarantees us the right to vote in the wasicu elections. Indigenous people of Turtle Island have the power to elect Joe Biden, but we can’t elect him if we don’t vote. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 3, 2020 I will go to the election polling place in my community to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I will exercise my right to vote because I do not want the world to suffer another four years of the sitting President of the United States (POTUS).

Tribal leaders from both the Crow and Navajo Nations have gone public with their endorsement of the sitting POTUS. I have no idea why they would support him. Over the weekend, I was made aware of a tweet posted by David Flute, South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations and a citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. The tweet read “It is fantastic to see my native brothers and sisters supporting President Trump, and knowing I’m not alone. #nativesforTrump”

Obviously, Secretary Flute isn’t working for the best interests of the South Dakota tribes he is supposedly representing. He is probably one of the few tribal citizens in this state blindly following the Republican lead. Consequently, Flute and his governor have done nothing for the tribes in this state.

The sitting POTUS has also done nothing for Indian Country; in fact, he continues to display his racist, misogynist behavior in public. He has criticized medical experts regarding the corona virus pandemic. He’s acted up in front of foreign dignitaries, while praising the actions of dictators. He has accused respected journalists of writing fake news.

In addition, the sitting POTUS has destroyed sacred sites on the traditional homelands of the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona. The Tohono O’odham Nation does not recognize the imaginary line – known known to many as the “border.” Tribal citizens have crossed this “border” regularly to visit relatives and attend ceremony.

However, the 62 miles of “border” on the Tohono O’odham homeland is now the construction site of a wall to satisfy the sitting POTUS mission to keep relatives – whom are Indigenous to Turtle Island – from freely traveling to visit family and attend ceremony. Consequently, both The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as well as The American Indian Religious Freedom Act were waived by the federal government to construct the wall.

The sitting POTUS also signed the Practical Reforms and Other Goals To Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act (PROGRESS) into law earlier this month. In addition, several regional offices were established last summer to work on cold cases regarding missing and murdered Indigenous people by the sitting POTUS.

These actions might be considered as a step forward for Indian Country. Yet, many of us have to ask why the sitting POTUS didn’t take action when he first got into office. For many of us, the sitting POTUS’ actions are just too little, too late. I see it as an election ploy to garner more Native American votes. Also, the federal stimulus payment we received came from taxpayer money. It didn’t come from the sitting POTUS personal bank account – like he would want you to believe with the letter you got weeks after your stimulus payment was likely already spent.

Please don’t believe any of the laws signed by the great orange father. He doesn’t care about Indian Country. His forked tongue continues to lie.

And don’t listen to other tribal citizens who accuse you of being colonized or assimilated because you chose to exercise your right to vote. Ignore the clamor and go vote anyway.

Our children and elders deserve better. Go to the polls tomorrow and vote against the racist misogynist who doesn’t care about Indigenous people.

Vote for Joe Biden for President.

Vi Waln can be reached through email cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

HeSapa: Home of the Lakota

Lakota people have always considered the HeSapa and surrounding area our home. Our people were guaranteed access to HeSapa by the treaties our ancestors signed with the federal government. However, when gold was discovered, the federal government passed the Act of 1877 – which was the illegal confiscation of our treaty land, now known as the Black Hills.

My late Unci was born in 1917. As a child, she attended the Rapid City Indian boarding school. She often spoke of the families who would camp along Rapid Creek, waiting for the school year to end so they could be with their children again.

This camp was called Osh Kosh Camp. Some people called it the Indian Camp and today the area is known as Founders Park. The camp consisted of not only family members waiting for their school children, but also included Lakota people who relocated to Rapid City looking for work.

On October 2, 2020, the Rapid City Journal published an opinion piece written by Oglala grandmother Beverly (Stabber) Warne. An excerpt of her letter reads: “In the 1950s, to keep Native residents far from tourists’ eyes, local leaders collaborated to dismantle the Indian camp and force the Native families north of I-90 to the ‘Sioux Addition,’ which, today, is adjacent to Lakota Homes.”

Many Lakota relatives still live in Rapid City. In fact, many are without a house of their own and still camp along Rapid Creek. Last week, the Mniluzahan Creek Patrol set up the tipis near the fairgrounds as a solution to shelter relatives during the cold weather.

However, the city government and police department continue to work hard to keep Lakota people from camping along Rapid Creek. Police make regular sweeps along Rapid Creek, confiscating blankets, tents and other belongings of the Lakota people sleeping there. The city has also placed large boulders under bridges along Rapid Creek to stop relatives from seeking shelter.

Large boulders under one of the bridges along Rapid Creek. Courtesy photo.

The Mniluzahan Creek Patrol set up four tipis on October 16, 2020 to provide immediate, unconditional shelter to Lakota people camped along the creek. The mission of Mniluzahan Creek Patrol is to offer care and protection to our beloved unsheltered relatives through offerings of food, blankets and cold weather gear as well as protection from police and settler harassment and violence.

The tipis were erected along Rapid Creek within city limits. Of course, the police threw a fit and ordered the tipis removed. Several live streams were shared on social media from the site.

Consequently, a group of Lakota people who were singing ceremony songs in a tipi were arrested and taken to Pennington County Jail. A Lakota woman, who was seen being dragged out of the tipi by police, is reportedly facing about 30 criminal charges. The live streams showed a majority of the police force (along with a team dressed in riot gear hiding in a dark area), an ambulance and fire truck on the scene to make sure our people left the area.

The city government, led by former police chief Steve Allender, claims they have proposed solutions to get people off the street. Homeless shelters, detox and treatment centers are some of their proposed solutions. Yet, some of our relatives would rather camp along the creek.

The tipis were an immediate solution and were erected to make sure the relatives with nowhere to go had shelter for the first snow of the season. But according to the police, the area was in a dangerous flood plain. We are currently experiencing a drought and it would likely take more than one rainstorm for the creek to overflow its banks. Chief Crow Dog said it best when he told the police chief “it’s not going to flood tonight.”

This incident is another example of government paternalism. That is, when our Lakota leadership comes up with a quick solution to deal with an issue at hand, it’s never good enough for most wasicu – including the mayor and his cops.

It’s the same old story – wasicu solutions are better than ours, even though the people who chose to stay along the creek are our relatives. Every level of wasicu government has consistently tried to force their policy down our throats. The wasicu still believe their way is better than our way. They work hard to take our freedom of choice away.

Perhaps they are just čanzeka over the loss of revenue the city is suffering because of the cancellation of the Black Hills Powwow (and likely December’s Lakota Nation Invitational). These events always brought big bucks to city businesses.

Also, we are affected by intergenerational trauma passed down from our ancestors. It’s up to each one of us to heal the painful cellular memory we are born with. We carry the trauma of our ancestors whom the wasicu tried to exterminate.

Consequently, the wasicu have their own form of historical or intergenerational trauma. The policy of their ancestors was to kill us all. Yet, we are still here.

The plan to kill off our ancestors failed miserably, so many wasicu work hard to ensure we never get ahead – especially in Rapid City, SD. The wasicu shame and guilt they hold in their cellular memory is their historical trauma. The wasicu who haven’t worked on healing their historical trauma feel čanzeka when they see a Lakota relative camped along Rapid Creek.

Just think, if the city officials would give even a few acres of #LandBack along Rapid Creek, unhoused Lakota relatives could build tiny houses or live in tipis like our ancestors did.

Kudos to everyone who had a hand in setting up the tipi camp on October 18, 2020 on tribal land outside of city limits away from the čanzeka city officials and their police.

Camp Mniluzahan. Courtesy photo.

A parcel of land owned by several Lakota tribes is now the site of a camp in HeSapa for our relatives to stay. Visit the Camp Mniluzahan site to learn how you can support this effort to house Lakota relatives in HeSapa.

Prayers for all Indigenous people suffering the corrupt systems put in place by the wasicu.

Vi Waln can be reached through email cantepublishing@goldenwest.net

Vote accordingly

We are all familiar with the saying “Women are Sacred.” The women of our tribe are the backbone of our society. Lakota women have always cared for our family and home. Our tribe wouldn’t exist if not for our women.

In modern Lakota society, some women work full-time jobs to be self-sufficient. Many are the sole financial providers of their household. As mothers and grandmothers, we work to feed our children and maintain a home for our family. Again, our tribe would not exist today if not for the women.

In our quest to provide a home with food and basic necessities for our family, many Lakota women also choose to pursue a college education. Lots of working women have registered for a full-time schedule of classes these last couple of weeks. These same women stay up late to study and earn a 4.0 GPA. They also don’t miss a day of work at their job.

Tribal officials continue to advise our young people to go to college because the tribe wants to hire educated people to make life better on our homelands. This isn’t true.

For example, a recent situation where an educated tribal citizen challenged a non-tribal citizen for a job would have been a done deal if the tribes’ personnel manual was followed. Instead, there are still tribal council representatives trying to manipulate the hiring process to the non-tribal citizen’s advantage.

Consequently, I’m not sure why tribal council representatives encourage our young high school graduates to go to college. It’s a fallacy to believe a college degree will help a qualified tribal citizen be hired for a job. And when you are a woman, there is no end to the abuse and discrimination we must suffer when we want to work for our tribe.

We’ve been told by elders the Lakota are a matriarchial society. When tribal citizens question whether or not we are a matriarchial society, they must remember Pte San Win (White Buffalo Calf Woman) who brought the Lakota people the Cannunpa. She provided the foundation of our spiritual way of life.

In today’s society, our women suffer much abuse. The concept of women as sacred is cast aside by colonized men and women. Physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual abuse are inflicted on the majority of our women and girls. The abuse we suffer is inflicted by both men and women.

Our women also suffer abuse in the tribal work place. The folks in charge of some tribal programs work to intimidate female employees to get their way. In addition, elected representatives will work to manipulate their colleagues for situations to be voted their way. The rights of women are violated when intimidation and manipulation are involved.

The tendency for our elected men and women to push educated Lakota women aside when it comes to tribal employment is alarming. It’s outright discrimination when qualified women are subjected to hiring processes not required of male applicants for tribal jobs.

In addition, tribal voters who watch the live broadcasts of the council meetings have witnessed the reps in attendance treating female council reps badly. Some of us believe reps are using their positions to campaign during public meetings.

As Lakota women, we must stand up for our rights as tribal citizens. We must also support our women representatives. We can’t allow the double standard we’ve seen in tribal government to continue. Our people need to remember our Lakota women are the backbone of society.

Thursday, August 27, 2020 is General Election Day. Voters must ask what the incumbents have done to improve the community during these past three years. Think of what has improved in your community and please vote accordingly.

We need change in tribal government

It’s Primary Election week on the Rosebud. Voters will go to the polls tomorrow Thursday, August 6, 2020 (postponed from July 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) to choose the top two candidates running for ten tribal council representative positions. The candidates we vote into these ten vacant positions during the General Election later this month will represent us for the next three years. Please choose carefully.

The majority of our Lakota Oyate do not have faith in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 – the government system the Rosebud Sioux Tribe operates under. Unfortunately, it’s the only government we have. Until our young people rise up and re-write the constitution we are governed by, nothing will change.

A very important prerequisite for running for any office in tribal government should be to attend at least one year of tribal council meetings to learn how the process works. Tribal citizens who attend council meetings to listen are the people who know how our governing body operates. It’s important for our tribal citizens to understand how the council operates.

Tribal citizens often don’t realize we’re all put in great danger whenever there is a tribal council meeting.

The tribal council is the governing body of our reservation. They hold power over all of our tribal programs. Their meetings often get emotionally charged and they approve legislation which hurts people. Some of them say they are voting the wishes of the people but there are times when the decisions tribal council approves are questionable or downright wrong.

Consequently, there are council representatives who’ve served more than one term and are quite knowledgeable about how the system works. There have been instances when a tribal council representative has manipulated the system to get his or her way. This corruption negatively affects hiring process of tribal directors or how resources are distributed to the people. Thus, some tribal council representatives are very dangerous.

Some of the incumbents running for office are only thinking of themselves or their family. They need your vote so they can remain in the position they are in. They are serving in a position which pays a decent salary. They also have unlimited access to pay advances, tribal loans, free travel and a free smartphone.

Some of the candidates have personal vendettas against tribal citizens. Other candidates need to be re-elected so they can help tribal programs maintain the status quo – aka the “good ole boy” system. They need to get back into office to carry out those agendas.

There are candidates who want very badly for certain tribal directors or employees to be fired. This isn’t right. But that is the history of tribal politics – you lose your job because a tribal official (or someone close to a tribal official) decides they don’t like you. And that person who doesn’t like you is usually related to or married to or buddy-buddy with the tribal council member or tribal president who can fire you from your job. Consequently, it is very unethical to use your influence as a tribal council member to micromanage and attempt to extend your legislative duties to those which belong to the personnel manager and/or grievance process.

Earlier this week, I heard a council representative bring up the attendance problems of employees working in a tribal organization. I thought it was hypocritical for the council to be discussing attendance at a tribal program job when nearly half of them haven’t attended a tribal council meeting in months.

Vote for candidates who will commit to attending every meeting they are required to be at. There were many times over the past three years when the tribal council could not reach a quorum to even have a meeting. Most of the time, they barely get eleven members to show up at 10am on council meeting day.

Our children deserve better; they need you to vote for ethical candidates.


Rosebud Postpones Primary Election


ROSEBUD RESERVATION – A community lockdown due to positive COVID-19 cases has resulted in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Election Board postponing the Primary Election.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council discussed the recommendation of the COVID-19 Task Force and law enforcement to lock down Black Pipe Community earlier this week at a regular meeting. The lockdown began at 6pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 and will stay in effect through Friday, July 23, 2020 at 6am. The action was taken due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Black Pipe Community. No one is allowed to leave or pass through the community, which is located on highway 63.

Due to the lockdown of Black Pipe Community, the RST Election Board announced the postponement of the Primary Election from July 23, 2020 to August 6, 2020. The decision to postpone the Primary Election was made in a meeting of the Election Board, as well as tribal attorneys, on July 21, 2020.

The following statement was released by the Election Board:

“The RST Election Board has been faced with a very tough decision. First and foremost, our biggest concern is the health and safety of our tribal members of all ages. We would like to send thoughts and prayers to all who have been affected by the current COVID-19 Pandemic. Therefore, the RST Election Board, in a duly called special meeting, has moved to postpone the Primary Election to Thursday, August 6, 2020.

“We hope that all tribal members open your hearts and minds to our decision and remember that this is for the health and safety of our tribal nation. Thank you for your understanding. Please continue to adhere to the social distancing procedures. Stay healthy and stay safe. Love and prayers to all. NOTE: This postponement does not affect the General Election Timeline of August 27, 2020.”

For more information please call the Election Office at 605-747-3187.

Vote for Ethical Candidates



The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is preparing for elections. The Primary Election on Thursday, July 23, 2020 will determine the top two candidates for ten vacant tribal council seats. So, next week tribal citizens will cast their vote to pick which candidates will appear on the General Election ballot in August.

The tribal council representatives for the communities of Black Pipe, Butte Creek, Grass Mountain, Ideal, Milks Camp, Okreek, Parmelee, Soldier Creek, Spring Creek and Two Strike will be determined by all tribal voters. Tribal elections shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Voters must consider the qualifications, ethics and the ability of candidates to represent the entire tribe.

Tribal council candidates must be experts of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Constitution and Bylaws. Candidates must also be familiar with how legislation is introduced and voted on during tribal council meetings. Tribal council representatives are paid a decent salary to conduct the tribes’ business – whether they attend community, committee or council meetings or not.

Attendance at tribal committee and council meetings is not required for your representatives to be paid; they draw a salary regardless. They also draw their salary when they abstain from voting an issue on the floor up or down. We elect people we believe will show up at all the meetings (community, committee and council) so they can make decisions for all of us.

Last month an important issue was brought onto the council floor during a special meeting. A motion was made and seconded to deal with the issue. Seven council representatives voted yes and one voted no.

However, your incumbent council representatives – who speak for all the people while in session at council meetings – from Black Pipe, Corn Creek, Milks Camp, Parmelee, Rosebud and Swift Bear refused to vote on this particular issue. In addition, the council representatives from Grass Mountain, He Dog, Horse Creek, Ring Thunder, Soldier Creek and Two Strike were absent from this meeting.

SFISThis particular issue has been in the forefront for many tribal citizens during the last several months. So, it wasn’t like the council representatives who chose not to vote were unaware of the issue. In fact, the same issue was the focus of a special tribal council meeting held last month.

Electing tribal council representatives, as well as constitutional officers, should be a serious topic of discussion in your Tiospaye. Please discuss the candidates with your relatives who will vote on July 23. Better yet, visit all the candidates running for tribal council from your community.

Some of the topics you can bring up with the tribal council candidates is their knowledge of the RST Constitution, ordinances, resolutions and other documents the governing body deals with. Another topic for discussion is employment practices.

For example, a qualified tribal citizen challenged a non-tribal citizen for a director job with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The tribes’ personnel manual allows for these challenges. The tribal president accepted the challenge and signed the personnel action after researching the qualifications of the tribal citizen who challenged the non-member.

However, the tribal citizen has not been allowed to take the director position because the tribal council chose to make this employment issue political. So, the non-member is still at work and the qualified tribal citizen is still waiting for the issue to be resolved.

RSTC Motion Excerpt 02-25-2020

As tribal citizens living on the Rosebud, it is in our hands to elect ethical council representatives to vote on legislation presented to them. Tribal council representatives are not supposed to be involved in personnel challenges but they made the decision to micromanage this particular tribal directorship.

Elect candidates who will attend all their required meetings to cast ethical votes on every motion. What have the incumbents done for you?


Cante Hunkesni Win is an award-winning Journalist.