Monthly Archives: September 2012

You are Lakota, strut your stuff!

I was all psyched as I typed a biting piece on ceremonial thieves and new age exploiters for this week. I had the majority of my weekly word quota posted up in a word document when a picture popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was an image of a racial slur someone allegedly wrote in a dormitory restroom on the South Dakota State University (SDSU) campus. I pray our Lakota students find the strength to move past those east river racist fools.

 

Yup, racism thrives in South Dakota. This publication really has no room for a photo depicting a racial slur directed at Lakota people. We publish the Lakota Country Times every week with the intent to offer positive reinforcement to our young people. So, I don’t think it would be appropriate to publish a picture of an overused racial slur containing the “n” word directed at those of us who live on the prairie.

 

This is the caption which accompanied the Facebook picture shared by Wayne Weston of the Pine Ridge Rez over the weekend: “This was seen by my nephew who is attending SDSU in his dorm bathroom our young Lakota men & women who are attending higher education institutions are also being educated on how racism still exists with their neighbors. For many of us who experience this for many years we learned how to tolerate this, yet for these young people they are traumatized. When my son attended USD [University of South Dakota] they wrote this on his dorm door and he was traumatized as well. We need to encourage these young minds to not give up, its continues to baffle me that these types of wasicus continue to fear us.”

 

South Dakota is the state where you see the license plates which proclaim “Great Faces. Great Places.” But all is not as it seems. I saw another picture over the weekend which said “Great Places. Still Racist.” I have lived here for most of my life. The only time I lived away from my homelands was when I attended college in another state.

 

Back then, the first few months in an entirely new place were kind of overwhelming. One thing I remember about those first days spent at that huge, out-of-state university is how I was treated. Many were amazed when they learned I was Lakota. They would excitedly ramble on about the cultural history I represented. They were in awe of my people. It was quite a different experience to be treated as a famous Lakota.

 

I grew up on the Rez in South Dakota where we aren’t considered famous by the locals at all. I’d become accustomed to being treated differently by non-Indians and it was never on the par of celebrity status. Many of the wasicu I encountered when I ventured off the Rez were (and still are) openly hateful.

 

Also, the single semester I spent at the University of South Dakota traumatized me. The non-Indian students and even some of the professors there viewed me with contempt. Some of them called me derogatory names.

 

How many of you left the Rez to attend college at a university in the “Great Faces. Great Places” state only to return home without finishing the semester because the wasicu treated you badly? It doesn’t have to be this way.

 

We get used to being treated badly when we step outside the boundaries of the Rez. I learned you can respond with extreme anger or you can keep on moving away from them with your proud, dignified Lakota strut. I used to get mad when I encountered prejudiced people but now I realize it is their problem, not mine.

 

Racism, discrimination, prejudice and hatred are things which we should not have to become accustomed to. I believe our individual attitudes have a lot to do with how we are raised. Were your parents racist or were they tolerant? I had one racist parent and one tolerant parent so I guess I grew up somewhere in between the two extremes.

 

I have come to believe that all human emotions are prompted by either love or fear. When you view life from the vantage point of love, you will feel more joy, peace, bliss, contentment and tolerance. When you operate from fear, every experience is clouded with anger, hate, guilt, judgment, racism, etc. Do you walk in fear or love?

 

I have learned that people who operate from deep fear quickly become angry. Don’t look at them wrong because right away they start screaming angry words at you while spewing out spit all over your face. Instant rage is simply a cover for intense fear. And don’t try to tell them they are operating from fear because they will just get angrier at you!

 

I have learned that the majority of the racist people who inhabit this state of “Great Places. Great Faces” are operating from a personal state of fear. This fear causes them to see Lakota people as some sort of threat. I truly believe it is the guilt they carry deep in their subconscious minds which prompts them to act out as extreme racists. After all, they are guilty of stealing the majority of our homelands, right?

 

On the other hand, people who operate with love as their motive are mostly tolerant. They encourage you with kind words. When you see them they are smiling and happy. There are lots of Lakota people like this; there are lots of non-Indian people like this too. I pray for the day when all humans can operate from an emotional base of love.

 

We have to be the example. We say we want a better future for our coming generations. I believe this future should be one where we no longer allow racism to affect how we feel about ourselves. I want our students who attend a university in South Dakota to be strong. You are Lakota, strut your stuff!

 

Waln unofficial winner of special election at Rosebud

ROSEBUD, SD – Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr. received 941 votes to Trent “Okie” Poignee’s 680 votes last week during a Special Election held on the Rosebud to determine who would represent Antelope Community, the largest on the reservation, on the tribal council.

 

In the primary election held in July 2012, incumbent Scott Herman received the most votes with Waln in second place. However, Herman withdrew his name from the election in August after winning a challenge which was filed against him by Lenard Wright.

 

Initially, the RST Election Board had determined that all nine candidates who had originally filed for the open seat would be allowed to remain on the ballot for a special election set for September 20. Those candidates included: Louis Moran III, Emil P. Wilson, Shannon M. Shaw-Brill, James R. Leader Charge, Glen Yellow Eagle, Shawn Bordeaux, Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr., Trent Poignee and Dolores R. Barron.

 

However, Waln filed action in Tribal Court (Docket # Civ-12-389) against the Election Board and stated that the “Board violated the RST Constitution and his rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act by calling for a Special Election, instead of certifying he and candidate Herman for the seat and allowing the General Election to proceed or in the alternative declaring him the only certified candidate an either putting his name alone on the General Election ballot or declaring him victorious by default.”

 

RST Special Judge B.J. Jones denied Waln’s “request for a preliminary injunction against the Special Election to be held on September 20, 2012.” The order also read “The Court does hold, however, that the Special Election have only two candidates – the Plaintiff [Waln] and either the third leading vote-getter or next leading vote-getter should the higher vote-getter decline.”

 

The Election Board then concurred with Judge Jones’ decision and issued a public notice stating that only two candidates would appear on the ballot – Waln and Trent “Okie” Poignee.

 

An appeal to the ruling issued by Judge Jones was filed by Shawn Bordeaux, one of the candidates on the Antelope community ballot. But Rosebud’s Supreme Court did not issue an opinion on the appeal before September 20 and the reservation-wide election to choose Antelope’s tribal council representative proceeded as originally scheduled.

 

Also, Antelope Community held a special meeting on September 17 and approved a motion recommending that the Tribal Council appeal the Tribal Courts’ decision on the election for community representative. Community members felt the court decision violated both their civil rights and their right to vote in a candidate of their choice.

 

The Election Board did request that the Special Election set for September 20 be rescheduled for October 18, 2012 to allow time for the Tribal Supreme Court to deal with the action filed. The Tribal Council had a lengthy discussion on the issue during a meeting last week but did not respond to the Election Board’s request and the Special Election took place as scheduled.

 

Waln will be certified as the winning candidate after the challenge period expires on Friday, September 28, 2012. The Election Code states the candidates who are certified as winners are sworn in on the next business day.

 

For more information please call the Election Board at (605) 856-2373.

 

Alcohol overdosing is not an excuse

I remember when my late grandparents told stories about how life was on the Rez when they were young. My late grandparents used to say it was extremely embarrassing for an individual to be taken to jail for being overdosed on alcohol in public. Too bad our Rez has changed so dramatically.

 

Have you ever seen someone lying on the street passed out from an alcohol overdose? Today, so many of us consider it just another day on the Rez when we see highly intoxicated people in public. Are we are so used to seeing our people overdosed on alcohol in public that we simply choose to ignore it?

 

A member of my local community election committee was obviously overdosed on alcohol while on the job last week during the special election held on my Rez. This person was allegedly harassing tribal voters. Many people lack enough self-respect to be embarrassed when others witness them doing stupid things while they are overdosed on alcohol or other drugs in public places. The worst part of all of this is we are teaching our young people that all of this behavior is acceptable when you live on the Rez.

 

99% of the suffering our children are subject to is due to alcohol overdosing, in my opinion. Most of the calls received by our law enforcement officials are placed because of someone who is alcohol overdosed and out of control.

 

In fact, most people in prison are there because they overdosed on alcohol and then committed an act while under the influence. What started out to be a party escalated into an incident severe enough to warrant criminal prosecution. People who are incarcerated wait for the day when they are set free. They are determined to never join friends in alcohol overdosing again. Some make good on the intent to stay sober when they are released from prison while others do not.

 

Many of our tribal members who have been released from those secure rooms in the Maza tipi soon find themselves back in there after vowing they would never, ever overdose on alcohol or other drugs again. Still, when many of our people are released from prison they often go back to their homes or the home of an extended family member and begin the vicious overdosing cycle all over again. Why doesn’t the Rosebud Sioux Tribe have some type of program to reduce recidivism?

There are many convicted felons living on our Rez. These are Lakota people who grew up here and made bad choices but paid the price through their prison sentences. When they are released many of them return here to their home. Prison has changed their lives. Many come home and actually create a better life.

 

But others will quickly resume the same drug overdosing habits which initially got them into trouble. They make their own personal choices. Soon some of them will assault family members in their own home. And many will get away with crimes because their families are afraid of them. Many of our children and elders live in dismal environments because of family members who lack self-control over their addictions.

 

Furthermore, there are heinous sex crimes being committed on the Rez every single day but many victims are too afraid to report these assaults. They might be threatened by the perpetrator or even by other family members to keep quiet about what is happening. 70% of sexual assaults go unreported.

 

There is a very good chance that sexual assault or molestation has occurred in children or young people who begin acting out in public. It’s pretty sad when our children have no idea of what they are doing when they begin acting out the sexual molestation they are being subject to. Are you a teacher with students who are exhibiting sexual behavior at school? Have you reported it?

 

Sexual predators are extremely dangerous. Some of the research I have looked at indicates that these people do not change. Medical doctors who treat them have often stated that sexual predators cannot be rehabilitated. In other words, they will never get well. Experts also say these people will always have the urge to engage in criminal sexual conduct. I’ve heard people state that local sex offenders have no place else to go when they are released from the Maza tipi. Do you believe would it be a violation of the civil rights of convicted sex offenders if we banned them from living on our Rez in order to protect the innocence of our children?

 

I realize there are some tribal members who are registered sex offenders but continue to maintain that they are innocent of the crime which they were convicted of. Some of these people did time in federal or state prisons. I’m not the person who is going to judge whether or not they are telling the truth; I only know that because they are sex offenders, these people must notify local law enforcement of their whereabouts for the rest of their lives.

 

In any case, our children are being victimized every single day. This ugly fact can only be changed when the cycle of violence is broken. Most sexual predators were not born that way. They were most likely sexually assaulted or molested when they were children. Just one incident can transform the innocence of a child forever. Again, most children have no idea that the physical assaults committed by the adults they love are wrong. Children view most adults as people who are supposed to protect them from harm; right? So why would innocent children believe sexual molestation is wrong when a trusted adult assures them that it’s okay?

 

Alcohol overdosing is never an excuse. Please pray for the innocent children and other people who are constantly victimized by those who cannot control their addictions. If you see or know of a crime being committed, be a responsible Lakota and report it to law enforcement.

 

 

Rosebud’s Special Election marked by court action

ROSEBUD, SD – Last month, Antelope tribal council representative candidate Scott Herman withdrew from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s General Election race reportedly to accept a full time job. As a result, the Election Board scheduled a special election for Antelope.

 

The Election Board initially ruled that all candidates who were certified to appear on the primary election ballot from Antelope Community would be listed on the ballot for the Special Election to be held on Thursday, September 20, 2012. They also determined that the top vote getter will be seated as the tribal council representative from Antelope.

 

Those candidates included: Louis Moran III, Emil P. Wilson, Shannon M. Shaw-Brill, James R. Leader Charge, Glen Yellow Eagle, Shawn Bordeaux, Calvin “Hawkeye” Waln, Jr., Trent Poignee and Dolores R. Barron.

 

However, Waln filed action in Tribal Court (Docket # Civ-12-389) against the Election Board and stated that the “Board violated the RST Constitution and his rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act by calling for a Special Election, instead of certifying he and candidate Herman for the seat and allowing the General Election to proceed or in the alternative declaring him the only certified candidate an either putting his name alone on the General Election ballot or declaring him victorious by default.”

 

RST Special Judge B.J. Jones denied Waln’s “request for a preliminary injunction against the Special Election to be held on September 20, 2012.” The order also reads that “The Court does hold, however, that the Special Election have only two candidates – the Plaintiff [Waln] and either the third leading vote-getter or next leading vote-getter should the higher vote-getter decline.”

 

The Election Board then concurred with Judge Jones’ decision and issued a public notice stating that only two candidates would appear on the ballot – Waln and Trent “Okie” Poignee.

 

Also, Antelope Community held a special meeting on September 17 and approved a motion recommending that the Tribal Council appeal the Tribal Courts’ decision on the election for community representative. Community members felt the court decision violated both their civil rights and their right to vote in a candidate of their choice.

 

In addition, on September 17, Shawn Bordeaux filed an appeal to Judge Jones’ decision with the RST Supreme Court. But an error in his paperwork resulted in him having to file a revised appeal on September 18.

 

The Election Board asked that the Special Election set for September 20 be rescheduled for October 18, 2012 to allow time for the Tribal Supreme Court to deal with the actions filed. The Tribal Council had a lengthy discussion on the issue but did not respond to the Election Board’s request. The RST Tribal Council is expected to render a decision on the request by the Election Board on Wednesday, September 19.

 

For more information please call the Election Board at (605) 856-2373.

Rosebud moves forward with intent to purchase land

ROSEBUD, SD – The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will provide the cash earnest payment as an initial step to purchase approximately 1,940 acres of land located in the Black Hills. The site, also known as the Reynolds Prairie Ranches, was originally set to be sold through public auction last month.

 

However, the auction was canceled a few days before it was to take place in Rapid City. The Reynolds family has indicated they will accept the offer to purchase the land from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Several other newspaper accounts have also stated that the South Dakota Tribes have come together to purchase the land in the sacred site known to the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota peoples as Pe Sla.

 

The Pe Sla sacred site is where, according to the Lakota spiritual tradition, the Morning Star fell to earth, killing seven beings which had killed seven women. To honor the fallen, the Morning Star placed the souls of the women into the stars at the Pleiades constellation.

Every year, members from within the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota and other tribal people gather to perform ceremony as a way to ensure the continued survival of all beings. Rosebud is among those tribes which send contingents to the site every year. In that spirit, Rosebud’s Tribal Council voted to act as the conduit to unite all the Oceti Sakowin – or Seven Council Fires of the Nation – in this struggle to maintain these deeply rooted traditions. If successful, this will mark one of the first attempts by the Great Sioux Nation to unite in common cause, bid for ownership and share the site for all tribal members to continue ceremony.

 

Tribal officials at Rosebud are committed to finalizing the land purchase deal. They will continue to work to secure the money needed to buy the land. The eight other tribes located in South Dakota, along with other tribes in the Region, still have an opportunity to become co-owners.

 

However, as of September 17, there has not been any official documentation, such as approved resolutions, submitted to Rosebud by the other tribes giving official notice regarding a desire to be considered as co-owners in the purchase.

 

On September 4, 2012 the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council approved Resolution 2012-222 which states in part “on August 31, 2012, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council determined to take the lead in the purchase of Pe Sla…[and the] Tribal Land Enterprise Board of Directors reviewed this possible real estate acquisition on August 15, 2012…and recommends approval.”

 

On September 17, this same Resolution was amended by a vote of 18 for, 0 against, 0 not voting and 2 absent at a special tribal council meeting to allow an earnest payment to be fully funded through TLE on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Tribal officials at Rosebud still anticipate official notification from the other tribes in South Dakota who wish to be part of this land purchase.

 

For more information please call the Rosebud Sioux Tribe at 605-747-2381 or toll-free 1-888-747-2381.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you guided by integrity?

I clearly remember the very first letter I ever wrote to the editor of a newspaper. I was 18 years old and wanted to express my opinion about the campaign tactics surrounding the tribal election. I submitted my unsigned letter through the mail but it didn’t get printed. Newspapers worth their salt require you sign your name.

 

To this day I know that letter made good points. When I turned 18 years old I was excited to be old enough to vote in the tribal election. And even though I was still a teenager, I was appalled at the dirty tactics used by the candidates running for office in the tribal election. I remember feeling very embarrassed for the people who publicly tore apart their fellow tribal members in the name of politics.

 

Not much has changed since then. In fact, politics seem worse now. People who run for office today have to be prepared for anything. We are finishing a tribal election here on Rosebud and some campaign tactics were awful, in my opinion. There were a lot of underhanded things done by candidates to make their public image appear better than their opponents.

 

You can fool a lot of the people most of the time but you can’t fool everyone all of the time. Many political candidates fool themselves. For instance, some candidates will hand out flyers outlining all the things they believe should be changed in tribal government. They also talk to people about what is written on the flyers. They make it sound all good by telling you exactly what you want to hear. But we all know it is usually a different story when they are actually put into office.

 

Many candidates also created campaign signs which they placed across the Rez. Some signs looked really nice while others were questionable. The effort taken to put up a sign gets our attention; the candidate wants voters to be familiar with their name. Political signs can be a positive thing in any campaign.

 

However, some of the signs were vandalized before the election even took place. When a candidates’ sign is vandalized, it reflects back on all his or her political opponents. When I saw the signs that were ruined by vandals, it immediately made me suspect the opponents as the ones who committed the vandalism. How childish for adults to sneak around the Rez vandalizing political signs. People should grow up and find something more constructive to do with their time. Or maybe they were paid money to vandalize signs. Again, this recent campaign on the Rosebud was one of the ugliest I’ve ever witnessed.

 

Another unethical strategy was used with campaign flyers. Not all of the flyers were handed out by the candidates as promotional or informational. I saw some papers circulating around the Rez which contained negative information which probably wasn’t even true. Again, people could use their time to find something more constructive to do. But I suppose when people need to publicly smear their opponents they will resort to anything.

 

I am a writer. I could probably have sat in front of my computer and wrote up all kinds of stuff about the people running for office. Then I could have printed them out and left them laying around like trash for people to read. And you would have believed everything I wrote about the candidates, wouldn’t you? That’s just it, people will believe anything.

 

I have always told people not to believe everything they read or hear. Most of the information floating around on the Rez is based on vicious gossip. We would all do better to find more constructive things to do with our time. It all goes back to personal integrity. You either have it or you don’t.

 

When you are guided by your own integrity there is not much you will do to compromise your own ethical principles. You have stopped fooling yourself. You believe in honesty and truth. These are the values upon which you base your everyday life.

 

When you do not have any integrity, anything goes. You will continue to lie to yourself and others. You will stumble through life with a “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. People will eventually see you for the hypocrite that you are. Your credibility will soon disintegrate when people realize you really don’t have any personal integrity.

 

Also, I have often wondered about the national political campaigns. They are in full force now; they are also very dirty. Not a day goes by when some candidate puts his or her foot squarely inside their mouth by saying something which angers many people. Then they have to scramble around to apologize or justify whatever was said that offended voters. It just proves that most people do not take the time to think through what they want to say, they just blurt it out. Some of the things being said are pretty stupid, in my opinion.

 

I suppose our local tribal political candidates follow the standards set by the national campaigns. It makes sense that this would happen. For instance, many of our contemporary tribal constitutions and governing bodies were created through the standards set by federal legislation known as the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

 

Our people who approved to accept the IRA most likely could not see the ramifications which would come from it. For instance, I believe the standards of conduct are set at the top. That is, when the Lakota people accepted the IRA as our form of government, we basically accepted all the flaws which accompany federal legislation. Thus, when the federal political campaigns are dirty, then the tribal political campaigns will also be dirty.

 

Standards set at the top trickle down to the bottom; right? Tribal politicians we’ve recently elected to office have the power to set new standards. I really do hope they all have enough personal integrity to make real changes.

Sacred Water Protection Teach Ins to take place on the Pine Ridge Reservation

By Debra White Plume, Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way)

 

The precious drinking water supply of the Oglala Lakota people will be overlapped more than a few times if TransCanada gets its way and the US State Department approves its second attempt to get a permit to build the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. The pipeline will enter this big land in Montana, come south and skirt the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Lower Brule, and Rosebud Reservations before it enters Nebraska.

 

Recently, TransCanada revealed its “new” route through the Sandhills of Nebraska, keeping their budget in mind; they diverted a total of 20 miles. There is Sandhills land on the Pine Ridge in the LaCreek District. The KXL pipeline will be buried into the Ogallala Aquifer, in numerous places when one digs a few feet down into the sand, water will rise.

Our Lakota people, and people all over South Dakota, depend on the Rural Water Pipeline, or Lyman Jones as it is called off-reservation. The KXL route will cross the Lyman Jones in 43 places. It will cross our water pipeline to the Pine Ridge at least twice.

The KXL will carry dirty crude tar sands oil from the mines near the Ft. McMurray area of Alberta, Canada. Much of the pristine Boreal Forest has been totally decimated, strip mined to bare dirt, to get at the tar sands oil deep in Mother Earth. The oil miners use 3 to 4 barrels of drinking water to produce one barrel of oil, and billions of gallons of waste water are now stored in huge waste water ponds.  It is a secret what chemicals they use to dilute the heavy crude! However, a Vietnam Veteran knew that some of the chemicals are the same as what was used in Agent Orange and he revealed this information in a meeting with the US State Dept I attended last spring in Washington, DC. That Vietnam Veteran is from here on the Pine Ridge. Maybe he will come and speak out!

Owe Aku is hosting a series of “Sacred Water Protection Teach Ins” across Lakota Territory, the first will be held at our own famous Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge Village on September 26, 2012 and at Kyle on September 27, 2012 at the Church Hall, both begin at 1pm. On both dates, there will be guest speakers and a lot of handouts to share FACTS on the tar sands oil mine, the KXL oil pipeline, and the historical and cultural Lakota land sites that TransCanada plans to cross. Tribal officials will be speak on these significant land sites, allied organizations who also work to protect drinking water and Mother Earth will be speaking, and we will have slideshows to share images from the tar sands oil mine and other water destruction mining and mining-related activities.

We will have handouts that describe how each Tribal Government plans to protect their Homelands, and we want to generate a discussion on how we can all work together to protect our sacred water, Mother Earth, and coming generations.  We will share images of how people in Texas are protecting their ranches, farms and neighborhoods from TransCanada’s KXL oil pipeline, and from heavy haul trucks carrying equipment across our Homelands, as well the river hauls in BC Canada.

 

Information will be available regarding the impacts of oil mining using the hydro fracturing (fracking) method, a technique that is being banned around the world, yet is being practiced all over this big land.  There is recent discussion on the Pine Ridge regarding fracking near our northern border and on the Reservation as well. Several tribal candidates are already discussing how the Oglala Sioux Tribe must prepare for oil ‘fracking’. We want to give folks an opportunity to voice their opinion on this crucial topic.

 

An update on the uranium case against Cameco, Inc. In Situ Leach uranium mine in Crawford Nebraska, as well Cameco’s plans for three new uranium mines will be discussed.

 

There will be time for Traditional Headsmen to speak regarding these mining issues and to lead the discussion on a statement from all those in attendance regarding the protection of our sacred water, Mother Earth and coming generations, after all, we protect this sacred water for them, it is their water. Mni wicozani, through water there is life.

 

Oglala musicians Scatter Their Own will share their awesome indigenous music, and a drum group will share their songs.  A feed will follow, and there will be beverages and snacks all afternoon.  The “Sacred Water Protection Teach In” is open to all people, everyone is encouraged to attend, learn what you can, share what you know, be part of the statement made on these dates! Bring your friends, relatives and neighbors.

 

For more info call Vic Camp at 605-407-7808 and Alex White Plume at 605-455-2155, or look up the “Sacred Water Protection Teach In” event page on Facebook.