Monthly Archives: February 2013

Do you have a diseased mind?

It is up each individual to make their life into something. We cannot depend on fate, luck or coincidence. We have to depend on ourselves. All our choices are personal.


I only have this one short life. It will only be as good as I make it. I do want my life to be the best it can be.


I used to believe I had no control over what happened to me or that my life was not simple. There were so many complications, problems and things other people did that seemingly ruined what I wanted. Still, I’ve learned none of the events which take place in in my life depend on what anyone else does. My life depends completely upon my own choices.


Some choices we make as individuals might follow us for the rest of our lives. If we choose to commit a crime, for instance, we will find ourselves in jail sentenced to spend some or a lot or the rest of our lives confined to a small room. We live with the choices we make. It is our own fault.


My psychic told me I am despised by many because I do not sugar coat the truth. I am a writer who believes my readers should know about the topics I address here. But when I write a hard column about crime, I am immediately judged as someone who wants to see all my people locked up for life, which isn’t true. I write about what is real here on my rez based on events which happen to actual Lakota people. Thus, I am sometimes attacked by people who don’t know me. They might trash me through emails and posts on social networking sites but not one of them has come to me personally to say to my face what they can so easily type from behind their computer screens.


Also, I write some tough pieces on domestic violence and stalking which always strikes a painful nerve. Have you seen the documentary called “Rape on the Reservation?” People who don’t agree with what I put forth should watch this documentary about Rosebud because it shows the reality of life on the rez. It portrays what we have to deal with on a daily basis.


I have built my personal foundation upon the belief that my own thought and speech determine my reality. Our individual ideas are born within our minds; are they not? Discussing ideas with others helps us to formulate a concrete beginning for something new. Every thought I entertain has the potential to be verbalized and brought into reality.


I was once a victim. I would think long and hard about all the wrongs that befell me, my parents, grandparents and the rest of my ancestors. I used to believe it was the fault of the church that our language is ebbing away. I felt it was the fault of boarding schools that there was such a devastating breakdown in our familial system. I blamed our addiction to drugs and alcohol on the wasicu who introduced his poison to my tribe.


Then I reached a point in my life where I transformed those weak thoughts into stronger ones. This process began some time ago when a friend suggested to me that I monitor my thoughts. I really did not understand what she meant. When I asked for clarification she simply said to monitor my thoughts. She wanted me to figure it out for myself.


So began the monitoring. I would think something and then try to honestly examine the thought. Does that make sense? It didn’t to me at first but the more I engaged in the monitoring the easier it became. I had to be honest with myself in order to recognize my thoughts for what they really were: judgmental, angry, jealous, manipulative, hypocritical, arrogant, dishonest and uncontrolled. My thoughts were bad medicine.


When I stopped to examine what went through my mind it surprised me. I had an extremely undisciplined mind. I always viewed myself as someone who didn’t have any bad thoughts until I truthfully what was in my private mind. It was quite humbling to realize how crippling my thoughts really were.


After continuously engaging in this thought monitoring process I can now recognize those dark thoughts when they come. It takes great discipline to transform some of the thoughts we have. Are you addicted to negative thinking? It is the nature of the disease of the mind; to think ugly thoughts about someone is akin to projecting bad medicine upon them.


I cannot say that I don’t have negative thoughts anymore. Still, years of work to release the diseased mind syndrome has helped me improve my perspective. The quality of a person’s inner thought affects their energy on every level. How do you feel around a negative thinker? How different do you feel around someone who is always upbeat? It all goes back to what is in our minds. Change your thoughts and you will definitely transform your life.


You alone are the one responsible for what you think. Some people proclaim they are set in their ways or their thought patterns. I cannot change the way you think but I can tell you that it is never too late to change your thoughts.


I will continue to write thought provoking columns for you to read even though it is quite apparent that some of you can’t handle them. I can share with you what has helped me come closer to true happiness in my life. If I can help just one person see how crucial their thought patterns actually are then all the bad medicine continuously projected from the minds of my critics is worth it.


I will keep writing about real issues to make you think. Will you monitor your thoughts? Try it for a day and see what you think. You may be surprised. Thanks for reading my thoughts.


SHUT DOWN TARSANDS by Debra White Plume, Feb 16, 2013



While citizens in Nebraska and all over the USA watched and waited for the decision of Nebraskan Governor Heinman regarding his decision to allow or prevent the Transcanada Keystone XL oil pipeline into ‘his’ state, I cringed, as that mentality is damaging and part of the colonial construct. The Ogllala Aquifer does not acknowledge the Governor. Nor does it acknowledge Secretary of State John Kerry, nor President Obama. I also cringed because another chamber of the heart of the matter is where the tarsands oil comes from in the first place, and what that mining is doing to the Boreal Forest, the Athabascan River watershed, and the Red Nations People and all of life in that area.


The dirty tarsands oil is coming from the tarsands oil mine which has wreaked havoc on the lands and waters and all of life there, only to feed the insatiable monster of greed of the fossil fuel industry and the discussion must include the need to get off the fossil fuel train wreck that is ruining the earth to line the pockets of a few, and the discussion must include the realization that the time is now for all mankind to re-evaluate their true needs and wants and decide if they want this pipeline so bad they are willing to wreck the delicate balance we have already impacted so much.


There comes a time when it boils down to personal responsibility. We either look at the whole big picture to see the truth or we continue to live in the many levels of denial that we all construct, and make excuses for what the industry is doing with our support as inactive human beings. People need to take courage and take that stand that this fossil fuel industry and the tarsands oil mine is wrong and work to shut it down before it is too late. Letting that pipeline in is not only contributing to the continuation of the tarsands oil mine, destruction of sacred water and all of life, it is actually supporting the continuation of the tarsands oil mine while it risks our sacred water here because it WILL leak and spill and when it does, it cannot be cleaned up, the technology does not exist.


We have to be brave and strong and take action to stop that pipeline and shut down the tarsands oil mine. People need to see the bigger picture and realize the kind of government they have that sets up the situation so they have to choose a job over stopping the biggest threat to the Ogllala Aquifer and all our surface water as well. Who will take a stand to defend sacred water? The sacred water must be preserved for our coming generations. IT IS THEIR WATER.


I hope everyone in Washington DC tomorrow yells out 4 times “SHUT DOWN TARSANDS” in a combined voice of 30,000. That would make this Grandmother very, very happy. And the Universe may be listening. Hecetuwe.


Are you demanding a $348.26 check?

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and several other tribes, recently received money from a tribal trust accounting and management lawsuit. This was a $1 billion dollar settlement which was paid out to several tribes. Rosebud’s share was just over $15 million dollars. The money was placed into a private bank account.


This settlement is one of several which the federal government is now distributing to Indian tribes in this country. Another settlement involves money which was distributed as compensation for thousands of acres of tribal land which was flooded by the damming of the Missouri River. I understand this settlement money was paid to some of the tribes currently living along the Missouri River.


Anyway, there has been much speculation on how Rosebud’s portion of the settlement money would be spent. Recently, the tribal council did approve a resolution which allocated funds of $50,000 to $100,000 to each of the 20 communities of the Rosebud Reservation. Each community is to come up with a budget for this money. All of this funding is to be disbursed through the voucher system set up by the tribal finance department.


In addition, several tribal programs and organizations have submitted resolutions or requests for funding from this settlement money. Of course, the tribal council will have to review all of these requests before any of them are approved.


However, this process has now come to an abrupt halt. Apparently, a petition to call for a secretarial election is now being circulated on the Rosebud. I also understand that this petition for a referendum vote involves tribal members who want at least $11 million dollars of this settlement money to be distributed as a one-time per capita payment to all living members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.


Many of us received a $1,000 payment from the Cobell settlement. I know many of you spent your money wisely. I also know that many of you financed a big party with that money. In any case, I hope your children had a good Christmas.


The first Cobell payment, along with the second payment which is supposed to be distributed soon, is basically tax free. The Cobell money will also not affect your eligibility for any public assistance benefits you currently receive. That is, if you currently receive Social Security, Commodity Food Distribution Program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), General Assistance (GA), etc. you will not have to report the Cobell payments as income. Your benefits will not be affected.


However, if this secretarial election happens and if the people vote to receive a one-time per capita payment funded by some of the money received by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, that payment will be taxable. This means you will be required to report this as income to SSI, TANF, SNAP, GA, etc. Receiving a one-time payment from the tribe as a per capita payment will affect your eligibility for public assistance. Some of you might lose a portion or all of your benefits.


The Rosebud Sioux Tribal Enrollment Department lists 31,585 people as living members. When you divide $11 million dollars by 31,585 it comes out to be about $348.26 per living tribal member. Is it really worth risk the loss or reduction of your Social Security or other benefits to receive a one-time check for $348.26?


What about the minors who would be eligible for these payments? Who will be responsible to ensure that our children benefit from their share of this proposed per capita payment?


For instance, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe recently issued gift cards in the amount of $150 which was to be used to purchase new clothing for school aged children enrolled with the tribe. This project costs the tribe well over a half a million dollars each year. Are tribal officials aware that some of our adult tribal members sold their child’s $150 gift card for $75 cash? So those children did not receive the clothing which was supposed to be purchased with the $150 gift card. Those children lost out, they did not receive any new clothes.


So, back to my question about who will ensure our children benefit from their $348.26 share of this proposed per capita payment. I believe if a per capita payment is approved through a referendum vote, the tribe should either (1) let the money sit in an investment account until our minor tribal members are at least 18 years old, or (2) require guardianship documents to be submitted before any pay-out is made to tribal members who have not yet reached the age of 18 years old.


Personally, I believe our children deserve to spend their own money in the way they see fit. So if it were up to me, I would advocate for the money which would be allocated for tribal members who are currently underage to be invested in a high interest account and that they be issued a check, which would include interest, upon their eighteenth birthday. That is only fair, right? It is not fair to hand money over to parents who will not spend on it the children. If this happens, some children will once again lose out.


Personally, I am not in favor of any per capita payments. I would rather see the money go to tribal programs which are in place to help those of us who live here on the Rez. There are many poverty-stricken elders, young families and children who depend on the tribe for a variety of services.


If I were to compile a figure of all the tribal money which is paid out to numerous tribal members and organizations for assistance with a variety of needs, the amount would be astronomical. These are our people who have no income and no one to turn to for help except the tribe. I would use money I received in a per capita check to help someone less fortunate. Would you?






A Letter to President Obama

October 9, 2011


President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, DC


Secretary Hilary Clinton

Department of State

Washington, DC


Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton:


Please consider this letter as my written comments on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion. As a human being dependent upon Mother Earth for my sustenance, I oppose the building of this pipeline; and as a fellow human you should too.


My name is Viola Waln. My drinking water comes from the Ogallala Aquifer. I have been drinking this water since I was born. I have buffalo, sheep and horses that also drink this water. My plants, trees, flowers and vegetables also depend on this water.


I am Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. I am the grandmother of four grandchildren, all of whom are also tribal members. I reside on the Rosebud Reservation. I live by the Lakota way of life. I pray in Lakota ceremonies on a regular basis. My family members and I are all baptized members of the Native American Church. We are very devout in our prayers and way of life. We pray for Mother Earth to heal every day. We give thanks for good drinking water every day. You should too.


In my language we say Mni Wiconi, which translates to Water of Life. Without water there is no life. Within all the ceremonies I attend, water has an essential place. This is, we pray with water in every ceremony we have. And as inhabitants of Mother Earth we depend on water to live. We do not need oil to live. There are other ways to create energy.


I take it personal that you are considering the approval of a Presidential Permit which would allow the Keystone XL Pipeline expansion to cross my drinking water source. You are threatening the water source of millions, many of them children. The potential for contamination is not worth the risk. Please do not sign the Presidential Permit. Please do not jeopardize my grandchildren’s basic human right to have unlimited access to an uncontaminated drinking water source.


The proposed Keystone pipeline expansion will come through my homelands. I have read the project is going to cost $7 billion dollars. Oftentimes, dollar signs will overrule basic common sense. The corporations behind this death project are already buying and preparing land in South Dakota but, in my opinion, they don’t care about Mother Earth. They only care about money. And why are they getting the land ready now when the permit hasn’t even been approved yet?


I wonder what goes through the minds of people who make a living exploiting Mother Earth’s sources. I believe every decision we consider as individuals, elected officials or owners of corporations must first measure the lasting impact on our descendants. In the insatiable quest for money, many human beings have lost sight of what is essential to our survival. Mother Earth is all we have. When she dies there will be nothing left.


Not only does this project have the potential to contaminate our precious water and air supply, it will likely destroy certain areas. Even though TransCanada chose to build the initial pipeline by skirting around contemporary Indian Reservations, most of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota view the original territory outlined in the 1851 and 1868 Treaties as sacred land forever ours to protect.


We depend on water for life. You and your family depend on water for life. Please do not allow another oil pipeline to be built. Our water is crucial to our survival. Please use your common sense and look seven generations into the future. We cannot risk our water sources for oil. It is not worth it.


The project will desecrate the land. I have ancestors buried all over the 1851 and 1868 Treaty Territory. As many people know, we didn’t always bury relatives in the cemeteries we know today. There are many unmarked graves all over this Turtle Island. The bones of our relatives rest everywhere. Some have fossilized into stone. Who gives anyone the right to trample all over these final resting places and physically disturb ancient graves just for a few more gallons of gas or oil?


When the tar sands area is fully harvested in Canada, the entire region will surely be devastated. The water supply our relatives in Canada depend upon for life is also at risk. Our First Nations relatives are fighting the expansion also. Every tree, every plant, every water source, and every animal will be sacrificed in the corporate march to move the crude through this proposed pipeline.


Like many of my Lakota-Dakota-Nakota relatives, I am deeply concerned about the world our grandchildren and unborn descendants will be left with when we are gone. You should be concerned about your descendants also.  Like the ancestors who have gone before us, many of us pray for the descendants who will soon stand in our place.


At the rate we are pillaging Mother Earth there will be nothing left. How will our great grandchildren feel when they learn they have inherited a dead planet? The inhabitants of North America cannot afford the Keystone pipeline expansion. It will surely destroy us. It will destroy everything we are building in terms of culture and spirituality for our children.


Also, this proposed expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline will have to cross our precious drinking water sources, including both the Ogallala Aquifer and the Mni Wiconi water line in South Dakota, along with several streams and rivers. The water which comes through these systems serves many residents currently living on our reservations.


Our water is our life. We will not survive without water. What will we do when the water supply is forever contaminated by oil? I believe it would be unethical to put the water source which millions of people depend upon for life at risk. Please do not grant a Presidential Permit for this project.


A map I saw recently shows the proposed pipeline expansion also crossing the Ogallala Aquifer. This vast, vital water source serves at least eight states. There is never an absolute guarantee of a safe oil pipeline. I don’t think there is really anything we can do to stop oil from getting into our underground water supply.  And when it does, as it surely will, who will clean it up? Where will we get our drinking water when the very source we are dependent upon is contaminated?


There have already been many spills from the existing Keystone pipeline. Again, I fail to see how we can we clean up oil spilled into water; especially oil already leaked into our underground water source. I really don’t think a cleanup of that magnitude can be accomplished by average human beings.


Proponents of the 1,912 mile pipeline assert there is no real threat of any serious problems impacting our fragile environment. This pipeline will run from Canada to Texas. You can’t expect all of us to believe there will be no serious environmental impact! It will be underground and I fail to see how something underground can be properly monitored.


Please do not put the drinking water source of my peoples’ unborn generations at risk.

As a child of Mother Earth, I am against the proposed Keystone pipeline expansion crossing our water sources. I ask you to pray for our water of life to remain pure for our descendants, both yours and mine. Please do not approve a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline expansion.


In closing, here on the Rosebud Indian Reservation we recently had a fire that was 22 miles long and fanned by winds up to 60 mph. This fire burnt 17,500 acres of land and trees. Clean water was essential to putting out this fire. As I write these comments, the fire is 85% contained and I am sure many firefighters will have to stay out in the field for several more days to make sure it is completely out.


Please do not approve the President Permit for TransCanada. Without water we will die.



/S/ Viola G. Waln