Lakota Adults Are Role Models


According to Wikipedia, “Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”

I began learning about emotional intelligence several years ago after being introduced to the concept at a workshop. I believe emotional intelligence goes hand in hand with emotional maturity. I’ve witnessed behavior from adults that shows their lack of both emotional intelligence and maturity. For instance, jealous people lack emotional intelligence, especially the ones who follow up on their feelings with violence.

A lack of emotional intelligence and emotional maturity can also be seen in adults who bully. They generally allow their negative emotions to control their behavior. They are quick to anger and often act without thinking. Their goal is to intentionally inflict harm on another person. The worst type of bully out there today is the cyberbully.

The cyberbully will inflict great emotional or mental pain upon others from his/her computer. There are many horrible tactics used by a cyberbully. I see a lot of these tactics used on social networking sites. A lot of people living on the Rez use Facebook to spread lies, gossip and hate. They also use Facebook accounts to hurt other people with malicious postings. When you are being attacked by a cyberbully on Facebook, there is usually nothing you can do. Cyberbullying is violence.

According to the website, “Bully behavior cannot be pinpointed to specific personalities, although many bullies suffer from internal struggles which often manifest into negativity towards others. Some of the common characteristics and personality traits a bully may have includes: uncontrollable anger and outbursts, the inability to control or direct emotions, low self-esteem, no confidence in self, no foreseeable future for oneself, and hopelessness.”

I witnessed an obvious act of cyberbullying on Facebook over the weekend. I would never have noticed what was going on if one of my female friends hadn’t pointed out what someone else was posting about her. She also shared screen shots of the Facebook posts, which contained indecent language.

My curiosity was piqued after I saw the screen shots. I visited the Facebook page of the adult woman who had posted the status update on her timeline. The language she used was obscene. The comments she made struck me as coming from an extremely angry person who lacked maturity.

I also read comments made by other adult women. I know some of these women personally. Some are employed with the tribe. I had no idea these women were capable of posting such filth. I wondered if they were intoxicated. The status update and comments under it were available for everyone who looked at the page to read, including the children of the woman they were referring to. Cyberbullying is conduct unbecoming to a Lakota woman.

The tribal council at Rosebud did discuss cyberbullying at an informal meeting they had recently. I believe the topic was discussed because of a Facebook post. However, I think there is a difference between sharing information with people on a social networking site and cyberbullying. We are all entitled to freedom of speech. Still, personal responsibility also comes with our right to freedom of speech.

After reading those horrible comments posted by several adult women, I hope the tribal council considers revising the personnel manual. There could be some standards put in place in terms of the public behavior of tribal employees on social networks. It doesn’t look right when tribal employees or tribal directors post denigrating information about other tribal employees. It’s blatant cyberbullying.

Some corporations have established standards which their employees have to follow, even after hours. It should be the same for tribal employees and directors. Our young people have a difficult time. And their lives are certainly not improved by tribal employees posting filth for the whole world to read on their Facebook pages. Tribal employees could be modeling positive behavior for our Lakota children, instead of publicly tearing each other apart on Facebook after work and on weekends.

Consequently, according to Ordinance 2007-09, which is the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual, “Tribal employees shall demonstrate the highest possible standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, and honesty in all public activities in order to inspire public confidence and trust in Tribal institutions. Such standards include, but are not limited to:
a. Dedication to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships.
b. Affirmation of the dignity and worth of the services rendered by the tribal government and maintain a constructive, creative and practical attitude toward community affairs and a deep sense of social responsibility as a public servant” (page 2).

I believe those tribal employees were not acting in the “highest possible standards of personal integrity” when they posted those vulgar words on Facebook. The RST Employee Assistance Program does offer free mediation services for tribal employees to work out their differences. However, many employees refuse to participate in a mediation session. Apparently, they would rather not solve their conflict with another person. This is another example of how our Lakota culture is being lost. That is, mediation was once a very effective way for the Lakota people to resolve their personal differences.

I was offended by the obscenity I read. The words those Lakota women used displayed an aspect of their inner minds. I was embarrassed for them. Still, people will vehemently defend their public right to behave, talk and post on social media any way they like after work and on weekends.

As Lakota women, we have a responsibility to our young people to be positive role models at all times. Tribal employees are still role models for our young Lakota people, even when they are not on the job.

Published by Vi Waln


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