Last week I attended the meeting with the United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. James Anaya. He came to Lakota Territory to listen to our people speak out about the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was the first time I ever heard of the United Nations sending a representative to listen to our concerns. It was an historical event.
Dr. Anaya listened to about eight hours of testimony which stretched over two days. The tribal people who spoke up for all of us are some of the most influential people in Lakota Country. It was a very educational experience. Still, I was kind of disappointed because I believed there could have been more local people in attendance.
In the past, I have listened to many tribal members talk about how their rights are violated. Many people have visited with me about concerns they have with tribal, state or federal agencies. I hardly saw any of these concerned people at the meeting with the Special Rapporteur last week.
I was glad to see Rosebud’s Tribal President and Pine Ridge’s Vice-President attend and speak at this meeting. But I only saw one Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council member attend for a short period of time. You would think that all of our elected leaders from all nine reservations in this state would have taken an interest. After all, it isn’t every day that the United Nations sends a delegation to listen to our concerns. I guess they had different priorities and chose not to attend the meeting.
This event was one way to have our issues and concerns receive world-wide attention. Some of you missed a very important opportunity to voice your issues. Our elected leaders would do well to pay closer attention to important events happening within their own homelands.