Monthly Archives: May 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Education is a key. I was taught to believe that when you work hard to finish school you are setting yourself up for success. Many families and teachers encourage students to stay in school to lay a foundation for a better future. In today’s modern society, education is very important. Jobs are very hard to find, especially on the reservation. But if you were to venture off the reservation to seek employment it would be very hard, if not impossible, to find work when you are uneducated. Most employers require the minimum of a high school education or equivalent at the very least.

 

But when you live on an Indian Reservation sometimes education doesn’t really count for much. We hear our elected tribal leaders encourage the young people to stay in school and make something of themselves. Oftentimes, this is actually lip service. Politicians always sound good when they are encouraging the young people to continue their education.

 

We are all role models whether we want to be or not. What kind of role model are you? Are you for real? In asking that question I simply want to know if you walk your talk. Many people in positions of power on our Indian Reservations are high school graduates and some are high school drop outs. Only a handful of our people who work for our tribe have earned a college degree and even less have an advanced degree. We need more educated people to step into elected positions and the positions of power in our tribes. Don’t we?

 

With a tribal college located on our reservation there is no excuse not to earn a college degree. But as we all know, there are many people nowadays already know everything. They don’t need to go to school to expand their minds. Furthermore, some of these people are in positions of great power. They can change your life or the situation on our rez simply by raising their hand in a vote.

 

I have learned it doesn’t matter if you have a college degree on the rez. You can apply and be hired for a tribal director job with only a high school education. Furthermore, you do not even need to have a high school diploma or equivalent to run for office as a member of the tribe. You simply must meet the age, residency, along with tribal blood quantum requirements and be able to pass a criminal background check. That’s it. You do not need to have a high school diploma to run for tribal president, vice president, secretary, treasurer or council representative.

 

And when you are elected to a tribal position of power you might find that your false sense of power takes you to places where you should not be. Tribal council representatives are supposed to be legislators. This means they are elected to make laws and/or approve policy for our tribe. Still, I have seen many times where my tribal governing body gets involved in affairs in which they already have departments set up to manage.

 

One area where I see the governing body regularly jump into without hesitation is personnel. I have seen tribal director jobs where qualified, educated tribal members have applied and gone through the selection process which often includes an interview. But when it comes down to hiring the best qualified, educated candidate it inevitably turns into a popularity contest where the names of candidates are written on a dry-erase board and each member votes by secret ballot to select whomever they want. Never mind education, never mind the best qualified, educated candidate – it all boils down to popularity. The applicant with the most votes wins. And it all depends on who you know on tribal council.

 

So if you have a college or advanced degree it doesn’t always mean you will be selected for a position; even if you are the most qualified for the job. And when you are selected you might find that you will have to watch your back because the members of the governing body who did not want you in that position in the first place will work very, very hard to get rid of you. Furthermore, if they have a family member, spouse or other relatives who do not like you they may also work to get you terminated from your job.

 

This is my observation of how my tribe operates. I know there are many other tribal members from other reservations who will agree with everything I have written here. Some have watched their tribal governments violate the civil rights of their own members when it comes to employment or other areas, such as tribal members duly elected to positions on local boards, committees or commissions. The system we all call tribal government does not work on behalf of all the people it is supposed to serve.

 

Also, if you are a tribal director and you exercise your right as the person in charge to terminate an employee under you, you may also find yourself terminated by the tribal council. I think it is wrong for a few members of my tribal council to make a motion to terminate someone just like that. But who am I to judge what they do, I am just a common tribal member.

 

So, it doesn’t matter if you have an education when it comes to working for most tribes in this country. If you cross the wrong family, especially those who may have relatives or in laws sitting on the tribal council, you risk losing your job. It’s as simple as that. Never mind that you were doing a fantastic job or that you were the most qualified and educated candidate initially hired. If they cannot pull you down the crabs in that proverbial bucket will start snapping their claws together to make a big ruckus, which will often influence your elected leaders into making decisions that aren’t completely thought out. Some votes are cast to simply stop the noise, in my opinion.

 

Maybe I should stop encouraging young people to get a college degree and come back to work for the tribe so they can help their people. I will instead encourage them to get a college education and apply that knowledge to a job they love, instead of a job where they risk being fired at the whim of the tribal council. Who needs that kind of stress?

 

A tribal council which flip-flops on decision making shows a real lack of leadership. But reconsideration and rescinding are a reality I’ve seen many times in the tribal council chamber. So if you don’t like a decision made at one meeting, chances are you will see it reversed at the very next meeting, which is a huge waste of everyone’s time.

 

Be sure to vote in the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Primary Election on July 26, 2012 and the General Election on August 23, 2012. I won’t say vote for change because the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Rosebud Sioux Tribe opens Auto & Tire Repair Shop

MISSION, SD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribe held a Grand Opening last week for their latest economic endeavor – Sicangu Auto Service. President Rodney Bordeaux was joined by Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) Director Wizipan Garriott and REDCO Board Chairman Shawn Bordeaux at a ribbon cutting on May 25.

 

A special thank you was offered to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and Chairman Stanley Crooks for the financial help they provided in getting this new business open for local residents. Over the last several years, the SMSC has generously provided many tribes in Indian Country with development grants for economic opportunities. The RST also provided funding to jumpstart this new endeavor.

 

Local residents who attended the Grand Opening were treated to a complimentary lunch, cake, soda, coffee and Lakota Water. Children received free balloons. Door prizes were also offered. The shop has a soda machine and coffee available on site. There are no immediate plans to add convenience store items.

 

Sicangu Auto Service will not sell gas. Instead, the new business has a large selection of new tires available for sale and if what you need is not in stock, they can order your tires to be delivered to the shop on Wednesday or Friday. There is a limited selection of used tires. Farm implement and bike tires can also be repaired or purchased. “If it’s round and has air it in we will try to fix it for you,” stated Store Manager Ken Gillaspie.

 

Along with tire repairs, Sicangu Auto Service will also offer wheel alignments, oil changes and other minor vehicle repairs. Technicians are John Allen and Cornell Menard, Jr. Wheel alignments and radiator or transmission flushes are available along with repairs to starters, alternators, brakes and shocks. Bulk oil deliveries to the store can also be arranged.

 

Wheel alignments start at $49.95. Tire repairs start at $10. A basic oil change for a car will cost you $38.95. A radiator flush is $49.95 and a transmission flush is $89.95. Custom wheels are also available for sale. Call for pricing on batteries and shocks. A self-service car wash and vacuum are also available.

 

Store hours are 8am to 6pm, Monday through Saturday. Sicangu Auto Service also accepts pre-approved RST payroll deductions. Telephone number is (605) 856-2337.

Federal restraining orders on the Rez?

It seems to me that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was used as some kind of political football in Washington, DC.

 

YAY to all Senate lawmakers for approving S. 1925 which seeks to allow our local tribal courts to have jurisdiction over non-Indians who assault or otherwise harm their companions while living on an Indian Reservation.

 

BOO to all elected House lawmakers who approved H.R. 4970 which eliminated the provisions which would strengthen the ability of our local tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians who assault their domestic partners in Indian Country.

 

Anyway, so now there is a House version and a Senate version of the VAWA. I understand the next step is for everyone to come together and figure out what the final version is going to be. This might be a long process since they obviously cannot agree on what they want.

 

In the meantime, some of our people, women especially, are still not safe in their own homes on their own land. That is, if you are an enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe living on your own reservation, you may find it very difficult to seek legal protection if you are married to or in a domestic relationship with a non-Indian who abuses you. The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court does not have criminal jurisdiction against your non-Indian husband or wife. So, if he or she decides to physically assault you there is really nothing the tribal police or tribal court system can do.

 

The feds will not assume jurisdiction unless the case is an aggravated assault or a murder. Do we have to wait until someone is killed in a domestic violence assault before we can get protection against non-Indians living on our rez? Is that a question I should even ask?

 

Victims could call the County Sheriff but I doubt they would respond to a domestic violence call in Rosebud, even if the perpetrator is a non-Indian. Are you a victim of domestic abuse on the Rosebud Reservation at the hands of your non-Indian spouse or partner? Have you ever called the Todd County Sheriff for help? Email me to let me know if you did and how it turned out for you. I know there are couples living on my reservation right now where one is a tribal member and the other is a non-Indian. Criminal domestic violence incidents involving these couples will often fall through the cracks in law enforcement.

 

How do you feel about going to the federal courthouse in Pierre to file for a restraining order against your abusive non-Indian spouse or companion? Many of our people living on the reservations in South Dakota are in survival mode most of the time. Families struggle on a daily basis just to provide shelter and enough food.

 

Still, if you have no car or no job and you want to seek a protection order against your non-Indian spouse you may have to go to the feds in order to get one if Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) gets her way. Here is an excerpt of what Rep. Noem had to say on May 16, 2012 regarding the vote on the Republican version of VAWA:

 

“House Republicans are not going to allow the Violence Against Women Act to get sidelined because of politics, it’s simply too important. One area of particular concern to people back home in South Dakota is provisions for Native Americans and Native American women. Native American women suffer from higher levels of abuse than non-Indian women but all too often they don’t get to see their perpetrators brought to justice. It’s simply unacceptable. This Violence Against Women Act improves upon many of the programs that are designed specifically to aid Native American Women. And it also includes new provisions to improve Congress’ response to potential problems they may run into. Furthermore, to better ensure that Native American women have improved recourse against abusive individuals, I worked with the Judiciary committee and the staff to include language in this bill to empower Native American women to either petition individually the federal courts or through their tribal courts for a federal restraining order. Insuring that these women have the ability to obtain a protection order is a vital step towards stopping the cycle of abuse that many of them suffer through. It impacts them disproportionally in Indian Country than it does in other areas of this nation. Those who have suffered from violence and abuse have gone through enough. Let’s not cause more harm by putting politics before victims and let’s support and reauthorize the improved Violence Against Women Act today.”

http://noem.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=7fe1f74b-09c3-47f8-91e1-9c78c92e84ea

 

Have you ever heard of a “federal restraining order?” If we are going to have to start filing petitions for restraining orders in federal court it means we will have to travel long distances to do so. The nearest federal courthouse to residents of the Rosebud Reservation is in Pierre, SD; a 230 mile round trip from my home.

It’s hard for many to get to the tribal courthouse. Where will we get gas money to drive to Pierre to file for a “federal restraining order?”

 

Furthermore, I would like to see the number of federal law enforcement officers present on my reservation to decrease. Is it not enough that the major crimes are prosecuted at the federal level? Will we soon see more federal agents on Indian land enforcing restraining orders over non-Indians?

 

Rep. Kristi Noem is out of touch with how life really is on the Indian Reservations in the state she represents, in my opinion. She has absolutely no idea of what it’s like to be a battered Indian woman who is afraid for her life. How can she speak for us when she doesn’t have a clue about our reality?

 

On this Memorial Day, I remember all the Indian women who lost their lives on their own land at the lands of a violent non-Indian man.

Indian Law & Order Commission holds field hearing on Rosebud Reservation

MISSION, SD – The Indian Law and Order Commission (ILOC) conducted a field hearing last week on the Rosebud Reservation. Topics addressed included: High Priority Performance Goals (HPPG) in Indian Country, Juvenile Justice, Implementation of the TLOA, Jurisdiction, and Enhanced Sentencing under TLOA, also Domestic Abuse, Sexual Assault and Stalking.

 

“Communities cannot arrest their way out of problems that threaten safety. Putting people behind bars does not strengthen communities, it takes away from them,” stated Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux. “Yet, people must be held accountable for their actions and deterred from hurting others and this cannot be done without police presence. We are proud of the developments we have made to strengthen justice for our people but we still have a lot of work to do in making sure victims feel safe enough to report crimes. Our people need to believe police will respond when their lives or others’ lives are in danger.”

 

“People were able to feel safe,” said James Cerney, a Tribal Public Defender for who spoke about the effects of HPPG on the Standing Rock Reservation. The project “diminished levels that crime would reach, officers were able to arrive before fights escalated from simple assaults to aggravated assaults.”

 

“80% of Rosebud’s young people have attempted suicide, many have multiple attempts. 100% of the juveniles on our reservation have a friend or relative who has completed suicide,” said Miskoo Petite. He serves as the Facility Administrator for the Wanbli Wiconi Tipi (Juvenile Detention Center).

 

“Some young people complete treatment and come out with a positive sense but go back into the same environment,” Petite continued. “We usually see a spike in grades when the young people we serve have their basic needs met.”

 

“Rather than focus on incarceration we focused on education and included the day school,” said Children’s Court Judge Janel Sully. “When the youth come in they are sullen, angry and upset. They spend some time in the Green Entry program and in a matter of days they are smiling, happy and energetic.”

 

“There is a perception in Indian Country that the federal courts don’t prosecute as many cases as they could,” stated US Attorney Brendan Johnson. “But the number of federal cases prosecuted on Rosebud has grown over the last four years.” In 2008 there were 73 federal cases. 2009 saw 85 court cases prosecuted at the federal level. In 2010 there were 102 cases. There were 130 federal cases in 2011. These numbers indicate a 78% increase in federal prosecution.

 

“We have a human right to be safe in our communities,” stated JR LaPlante. He currently serves as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tribal Relations.

 

“I see enhanced sentencing as flexing the sovereignty muscles that we do have,” stated RST Attorney General Mato Standing High. “There needs to be criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in Indian Country for domestic violence offenses.”

 

“There needs to be tougher prosecution against white collar crimes,” continued Standing High. “People don’t get prosecuted for these crimes. If we continue to let white collar crime slide, the people who are committing these acts will believe they will always be able to get away with it.”

 

“Grant based funding for the development and maintenance of tribal justice systems does not work, we need direct funding,” stated RST Prosecutor Matthew Rappold, who also serves as a Special Assistant US Attorney. “We have to have needs based, non-competitive funding to fund tribal justice systems.”

 

“The average Todd County School student misses 40 days per year,” stated RST Truancy Prosecutor Jamie Ayers. “So an 8th grade graduate actually only has a 5th grade education. Students are exposed to abuse, alcoholism, hunger, poverty, lack of transportation and violent crimes. Some have parents who are involved in gang activity. Some are being raised by grandparents or great-grandparents on fixed incomes.”

 

“We learn in law school that treaties are the supreme law of the land,” added Attorney General Standing High. “We are still talking about treaty promises that are not going to come through. We don’t have high arrest rates because of our people; we have high arrest rates because of the system.”

 

“There is no way of validating protection orders issued by our tribal court in other jurisdictions,” stated Nicole Witt who serves as Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society Shelter. “Why don’t we implement a national tribal protection order registry? This would enter a protection order into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) so local police officers can find out quickly it is valid.”

 

Faith Spotted Eagle spoke on behalf of the Brave Heart Society who traditionally “brought back the dead from the battlefield. Today they are bringing back the spirits of our people who have suffered layer upon layer of trauma. The United States is a post-conflict society and we have personalities that are essentially numb.”

 

In the past 14 years, the Brave Heart Society has helped 90 girls complete the Isnati ceremony on the Yankton Sioux Reservation. “The majority of those girls are doing better than their counterparts are,” stated Spotted Eagle. Cultural activities and ceremonies like the Isnati are one way of “healing traumatic events.”

 

Child abuse and neglect are both forms of violence on the Rosebud Reservation,” stated Natalie Stites, Project Manager of the Defending Childhood Initiative. “At least two children per day are a victim of a crime. Our children and youth are incredibly vulnerable.”

 

The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA), signed into law by President Obama last summer, created the ILOC, an independent, all-volunteer advisory group, to help with the challenges to securing equal justice for Native Americans living and working on Indian lands. TLOA directs the Commission to report back to the White House and Capitol Hill next year with specific proposals to make Indian Country safer and more just, so that Native Americans may finally receive the full protections guaranteed to all U.S. citizens by the Constitution.

 

Commissioners include: The Honorable Troy A Eid (Chairman), Affie Ellis, Tom Gede, Carole Goldberg, The Honorable Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, The Honorable Jefferson Keel, The Honorable Earl Raphy Pomeroy III, Theresa Pouley, Jeff Davis, Eileen M. Garry and Ted Quasula. For more information please visit: www.indianlawandordercommission.com

 

A Sacred Alignment only seen every 26,000 years

Sunday, May 20, was the New Moon. This cycle of the Moon is when Mother Earth is shrouded in total darkness at night. The Moon is still there but we just cannot see her.

 

Many of us view New Moon as a time to make new prayers for the next cycle. It is also a time for new beginnings. We get this chance to renew our prayers and make new starts every single cycle of the Moon. As a human being, I am grateful for the universe allowing me this opportunity every month.

 

There was also an annular solar eclipse on Sunday. The last time an eclipse like this occurred was in 1994. The next annular solar eclipse will take place in the year 2023. So if you missed the celestial event on Sunday, you will have to wait 11 years for the next one.

 

An annular solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between Mother Earth and the Sun. It is an annular eclipse because the Moon appears to be smaller than the Sun and all light is hidden except for a bright halo, sometimes referred to as a ring of fire.

 

During the eclipse on Sunday, Mother Earth, the Moon, the Sun and the Pleiades were all in alignment. The energy was awesome. I hope you made the best of the sacred time on Sunday. This only happens every 26,000 years.

 

Even though eclipse energy is very intense, it is a great time to reflect on our inner selves and where we are on the path of life. It is the perfect time to let go of people or situations which are no longer in your best interest.

 

Also, Full Moon was a couple of weeks ago. I saw where people were calling her a Super Moon because she looked really big and her reflection was very bright. How did you feel during the Super Moon?

 

The cycle of our Moon affects the Earth in many ways. Moon energy is linked to water. So, it makes sense to me that when it is Full Moon the water inside our bodies is affected. Many people become highly emotional during the time of the Full Moon.

A New Moon will also affect the water within our bodies and our emotions. People who are disconnected from nature or not spiritually conscious might scoff at the idea of their body being affected by the Moon’s cycle. And this is still a free will zone so you can believe whatever you like.

 

Yet, if you start paying attention you may realize that you are affected. The next Full Moon is June 4, so mark the date and be aware of yourself. Moon energy can affect sleep patterns. Either we are tired and want to sleep more or we have insomnia. If you are interested to find out how you are affected maybe you can keep track of both the New and Full Moon times to see.

 

Another phenomenon which also affects me personally is the coronal mass ejections (CME) which come from the Sun. Some of you may know these as solar flares. I became interested in these Sun spots several years ago. I began looking for articles online about the solar flares and even found video on them. Today you can event watch online videos of massive CMEs from the sun.

 

Sometimes the energy from a CME will burst forth from the side of the Sun facing away from us. Other times the flare will be from the side we see. When the energy from these ejections hits our atmosphere it will affect many things.

 

A CME on the other side of the Sun has minimal effects upon our atmosphere. But when the energy is released and heads straight for Mother Earth it can affect the satellites in space. It can also affect electricity grids. I can always tell when there is solar flare energy in our midst because sometimes my television picture will freeze or seem to break up.

 

CME energy also affects human beings. People seem to be more edgy when Mother Earth is engulfed in CME energy. You can use this energy in a positive way to do work on your inner self with the goal of healing. Or you can allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the dark emotions such as anger, misery, bitterness, etc. You always have a choice.

 

If you don’t like the choice you make then choose again. Many human beings do not understand the power of choice. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be angry. No one else can choose for me.

 

Many human beings are now on the path of self-realization or enlightenment. They are the people who have stopped fooling themselves. They also no longer allow their ego to control every waking moment. They understand the answers are all within themselves and they are making efforts to heal.

 

Other human beings are stumbling down a different path. Many are in denial of the changes humanity is now facing. The fear of what the year 2012 holds for many is an added stressor. When you focus on the negative, you can be sure that is what you will get. Are you one of the people who think the world is going to end this year? If so, you might be having a very difficult time adjusting to all the energies brought by eclipses, solar flares, Moon cycles and Earth changes in general.

 

And if you think one eclipse was hard to get through, the party isn’t over yet. There is also an upcoming lunar eclipse on the calendar for the Full Moon on June 4, 2012.

 

Finally, eclipse energy lingers after the actually event has taken place. Some of us will undergo a major life change during an eclipse window. A person, job or relationship may be eclipsed into or out of your life. Go with the flow of energy.

Tribal election day will soon be here

On the Rosebud Indian Reservation, May 25 (Elder Day) and May 28 (Memorial Day) are both legal holidays for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. All offices will be closed.

 

Qualified Rosebud Sioux Tribal members have seven days to submit a nominating affidavit and filing fee to run for election. The deadline to file for the office of Tribal President, Vice-President or Council Representative is May 31, 2012.

 

I visited tribal headquarters last week. Only a few people have filed to be placed on the ballot for the reservation wide primary election set for Thursday, July 26, 2012. Most are incumbents; some have served prior terms in office while others have not served at all.

 

Potential candidates are working on their campaign platform. Incumbents who are seeking re-election are dusting off the platform which was put away after the last election. We will be encouraged to vote for this or that political candidate.

 

Many people want to see new blood in Tribal Government. Still, when we elect new people to our governing body many of them have no clue about the position they have been appointed to. They walk into their very first tribal council meeting totally blind.

 

This is what usually happens:

 

It might take the whole first year to figure out how Tribal Government operates. Legislators will attend days upon days of endless meetings where controversial issues are talked to death before being voted on. There is never enough money. It is usually during this time when the legislator forgets what his or her original campaign platform actually proposed.

 

Then, after the process is somewhat figured out, the elected official may work to bring forward the issues he/she wanted to originally change, improve or eliminate. Legislators will soon find that not all of their colleagues will support the issues they seek to address. It may take six, ten, twelve or eighteen months to lobby for support from the other nineteen tribal council members.

 

By now legislators are approaching the end of a three year term in office. If they want to run for re-election, they might start campaigning now for the election which will take place next year. The last year in office is often dedicated to strategizing for re-election. Their vote for or against controversial issues may determine their chances of being re-elected.

 

In the six months leading up to the primary election, people are talking trash about incumbents who might want to be re-elected while encouraging innocent tribal members to file for office. This is where we are today.

 

If you’re thinking of running for election to a position in Tribal Government, I believe you should spend at least five years studying the governing body. It isn’t fair to your fellow tribal members to enter the biggest job of your life unprepared. You will only waste our time and financial resources.

 

Soon those hand painted signs will create a familiar eyesore at every major highway junction on our rez. Shall I vote for whoever has the best sign?