Monthly Archives: February 2016

Aske Win: A Lakota Ancestor


“Get up early to greet the Morning Star and Tunkasila will bless you all day.” ~Dinah Crow Dog-Running (Aske Win) 1933-2006. Photo by Vi Waln

By Vi Waln

“Get up early to greet the Morning Star and Tunkasila will bless you all day.” ~Dinah Crow Dog-Running (Aske Win) 1933-2006


March is Women’s History Month. Most of the commemorations related to Women’s History in this country are focused on females of European descent. For instance, Susan B. Anthony is a woman well referenced in American History books. She worked for women to have the right to vote.


Consequently, we rarely read about the contributions of Lakota women during Women’s History Month. There are many tribal women who have contributed a lot to our society. They are rarely spotlighted by the American media; still, it’s important to teach our children about them.


So, this week I want to remember the late Sicangu Lakota elder, Dinah Crow Dog-Running (Aske Win). She was a Tuwin to me, yet the relationship we had was also one of great friendship. So, despite our difference in age, she was one of my beloved Maske. She was my spiritual counselor. She shared many of her teachings with me about our Lakota way of life.


For example, Dinah always stressed the importance of nutrition. She helped me understand how crucial it is for women to take the utmost care in preparing the food we feed our children. She often spoke about the nutrition law of our people. I doubt many of our people truly understand the law of nutrition in the same way our ancestors did.


She helped me understand the importance of food to our body, mind, emotions and spirit. For instance, we put our energy into whatever we create, including meals. I believe that’s the reason for certain cooks we know, like our Ina or Unci, having the ability to create those delicious meals we love to eat. They carry the family love energy and that is what they put into their meals.


The energy we put into creating our meals is the most important ingredient. The food we prepare and feed our children helps them to grow into responsible Lakota adults. In addition, Dinah was asked on a regular basis to prepare spiritual food for different occasions. She was instrumental during times when a local family wanted to honor one of their own, or when a family was spiritually devastated.


I will never forget her taking the time to prepare the wasna for my late Takoja to take on her spiritual journey. The simple ceremony she conducted when feeding my Takoja’s spirit still helps me get through hard times even today. Consequently, Dinah’s interpretation of nutritional law was carried into the next world by those lucky enough to be blessed with the spiritual food she created and shared with their spirit.


Maske Dinah was also an articulate orator. I witnessed her addressing the Governor of South Dakota in his mansion in 2003. She offered him much wisdom to move forward during his term in office, suggesting practical ways to include the Lakota tribes of this state. Of course, he did not take her advice.


During her time here on Earth, she did serve as a representative on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council. In her later years, I was privileged to hear Dinah publicly address the tribal council on many occasions when I attended meetings with her. She also offered sound, sensible advice as well as suggestions addressing the needs of our people. However, I don’t ever recall the tribal council incorporating her advice or following through with her suggestions.


I also attended many ceremonies which Dinah was an essential part of. She helped many women in ways that are indescribable. Her prayers were very powerful. The sacred ceremonies she participated in were greatly enhanced by her presence.


She could see the truth inside people. It was often intimidating to those who had something to hide. Yet, the things she saw inside people helped her to understand human nature more clearly. There were times when she could see things in people who were close to me. This would prompt her to offer me advice based on her perceptions. Her intuition about people was never wrong.


Dinah walked on from this life on February 27, 2006. I miss her early morning calls. I miss listening to her talk and laugh as we rode to meetings together. I miss seeing her at wacipis, the sun dance and Native American Church ceremonies. Some days I could really use her wisdom, as well as her humor.


Aske Win is one of our Lakota ancestors. Remember her in your prayers. She and the multitude of Lakota ancestors are there to help us walk this human path.









By Vi Waln

Rumors and gossip are behaviors unbecoming to Lakota people. Yet, I realize a lot of you thrive on adding more distorted tidbits to an outlandish tale another person has told you. Many reporters can tell you about the calls or emails they receive on an issue or event that people ask them to write about. Our reputation as writers only goes as far as our ability to accurately report a chain of events, or address controversial issues.

Over the years, I’ve had many people talk to me about something they would like to see printed in the newspaper. I’ve dealt with honest people who sincerely want the public to read about an important issue, as well as people who want to see dramatic stories in print. It’s unfortunate that many prefer sensationalism, instead of reading an accurate account of what happened.

People are actually addicted to the negativity happening every day in their community. We need to examine why that is, because when we thrive on talking about drama, even when it isn’t true, we miss seeing the areas of our lives which need improving. There are always areas in our lives or family needing attention. Personally, I would rather focus on myself and my immediate family. I make a choice not to waste energy focusing on negative events happening in my community.

This past week on the Rosebud was a prime example of negativity, gossip and sensationalism. It all started when the Testing-Demo-Cleaning Department (TDC) of Sicangu Wiconi Awayankapi (SWA) gave a demonstration to the Tribal Council at a meeting I didn’t attend or watch. The demonstration entailed a process followed when SWA is faced with testing a house allegedly contaminated by methamphetamine use by a tenant.

Since I didn’t attend that particular meeting, I was later informed by a tribal council representative that there was a set agenda with SWA in attendance to address homeless issues and the prevalence of meth use on Rosebud. SWA did give a presentation on meth testing, due to the number of houses being contaminated. One council representative had questions on the specifics of testing the housing units, so SWA was asked to bring their machine and demonstrate.

Testing was done, and as unofficially reported through an online blog, some of the furniture in the Council Chambers tested positive. Tribal Council then requested impromptu testing of all representatives present, as well as all the employees working in the tribal building. In addition, the tribal building was shut down on Thursday afternoon for further testing and sanitation by SWA employees, as requested by tribal officials. The tribal building was open again on Friday.

There were many stories uttered on the reservation about this incident. I thought it was pretty crazy, as many of the stories sounded extremely far-fetched. But that is the nature of rumors and gossip, the more something is repeated, the more skewed it gets. The fact that some local people I once thought highly of were repeating stories sounding absolutely ridiculous, made me wonder why I thought so highly of them in the first place.

Tribal council set an example by ordering drug tests. Many tribal citizens would like to see all tribal directors and employees tested too. Drug test results are confidential. Still, I believe the mass drug testing of all tribal employees could possibly weed out (no pun intended) substance abusers from our programs. Drug and alcohol addicts bring down overall productivity. Our tribe cannot move forward when the majority of its members are addicted to substances, whether they are legal (vodka, beer, morphine or hydrocodone) or illegal (meth, heroin, etc.).

Drugs are poisons. When we ingest any type of drug, legal or illegal, our bodies tend to work to remove the poison. Our body excrements, such as sweat, urine and feces, contain waste matter. Whatever poison you are using, like vodka or meth, also leaves your body when you sweat or use the restroom. And when you are sweating, the toxins contained in the sweat will be absorbed by your clothing, as well as the surfaces you come into contact with.

The general public does have access to the council chambers, as well as most of the offices in the tribal building. Lots of people sit on the chairs in that building. Lots of people lean on the tables and against the walls. These actions leave behind sweat and body oils, along with whatever substance the person has ingested. So, it was no surprise that certain areas in the tribal building tested positive for drugs. After all, we do have a wide-spread drug problem that is out of control. I’m sure a lot of drug users visit the tribal office on a daily basis for a variety of reasons.

I’m in favor of testing all elected tribal officials, as well as all tribal directors, tribal employees and political appointees. Testing everyone will send a message that our tribe is serious about eradicating drug users on the payroll. But let’s not forget how many of our people who don’t work for the tribe are actively using drugs. People who use drugs also regularly visit the hospital, university and other program buildings. It’s really not fair to place all the blame on the tribal workforce or elected officials.

Alcoholics and drug addicts need prayers. They need help. The families who are dealing with them also need help. Our children are precious and are being exposed to dangerous drugs that people my age knew nothing about while we were growing up. It’s going to take all of us working hard to clean up our tribe.

Does anyone besides me wonder how things would change if people chose to pray instead of repeating wild rumors?

Tribal Students Need Relevant Education

Constitution Picture

Recently, my Takoja came home from school and asked me if George Washington was white. A strange question, but since it is February I figured the class was learning about US Presidents. So I told him, yes George Washington was white. Then I asked my Takoja if he knew who the President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was. He couldn’t answer.

Our local schools are failing our children by not including material relevant to their lives as tribal citizens. Students who live on the reservation need to learn about everyday issues that apply to them as tribal citizens, including their own tribal government. If the local public and tribal schools offers lessons on US history, which teaches our children all about US Presidents, they also need to include tribal history.

Many Lakota people who grow up on our homelands often choose to stay here. We might attend an off-reservation college or university, but many of us return to the area where we grew up. We have to know the history of our homelands. We have to learn about our tribal government. We have to learn about our own Lakota culture.

Teaching our students only about the relevance of the US government and their history is an incomplete education. Our Lakota students should know about tribal government when they graduate from high school. Unfortunately, many high school graduates have no idea of what their own tribal government does.

I am sure there are a few local teachers who incorporate tribal government, history and cultural information into their lessons. But they are the exception. Most of the teachers working in our homelands did not grow up here. They do not understand the relevance of including teachings about the Lakota people to Lakota students.

Our students should be exposed to basic lessons about tribal government beginning in Kindergarten. An idea Lakota curriculum would include lessons about the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act. Our elementary, middle and high school students should also be studying the Constitution and By-Laws of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, which was adopted in 1934; learning about the subsequent amendments to our Constitution and By-Laws is also important.

Additional curriculum should include studying the Corporate Charter of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, as well as the amendments to this document. The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934 is an important piece of legislation that has affected us for the last 82 years. Our students should be learning about the original IRA as well as amendments made to this document.

In addition, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe has established numerous resolutions, ordinances and codes. Again, our local students graduate from high school without knowing much about their own tribal government. Our tribal government could operate much better if our young people were educated about how the system works. Our educational systems have failed us as Lakota people because of the limited curriculum covering the historical and contemporary governance systems which apply to us.

Also, many of our tribal students might have learned about what the stars and stripes represent on the American flag. Yet, many do not have any idea what the symbols on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Flag represent.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has elected 40 Presidents since the IRA was incorporated. Our children know who George Washington was, but the majority of them do not know who the first President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was. Many of our Lakota students, like my Takoja, cannot tell you who the current President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is.

Our students can succeed when what they learn is meaningful to them. It wouldn’t take much to incorporate lessons surrounding the Rosebud Sioux Tribe into the local schools’ curriculum. I challenge the school board members, administrators and teachers at the St. Francis Indian School and the Todd County School District to provide more curriculum on local tribal government to the K-12 students currently attending our local schools. After all, they are our future leaders.

Our schools are there to educate our children. I believe they have a responsibility to provide our Lakota students with a relevant education about how their own tribal government operates.

AIFRA Amendments of 1994 do not include Marijuana

By Vi Waln

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) Amendments of 1994 were established to protect members of federally-recognized Indian tribes who attend Native American Church (NAC) ceremonies and ingest peyote. The AIRFA also allows members of federally recognized tribes to obtain permits to buy, possess and transport peyote for use in bona fide ceremonies.

According to Wikipedia, Section 2 of the Act speaks to the “Traditional Indian Religious Use of the Peyote Sacrament,” and reads in part:

(c) For purposes of this section – (1) the term ‘Indian’ means a member of an Indian tribe; (2) the term ‘Indian tribe’ means any tribe, band, nation, pueblo, or other organized group or community of Indians. . .(3) the term ‘Indian religion’ means any religion – (A) which is practiced by Indians, and (B) the origin and interpretation of which is from within a traditional Indian culture or community; and (4) the term ‘State’ means any State of the United States, and any political subdivision thereof.

People must be enrolled members of federally recognized tribes to either possess peyote or attend NAC services. Consequently, this law applies only to peyote. The AIRFA Acts of 1994 were not created to recognize religious organizations where other controlled substances, such as marijuana or ayahuasca, are used.

James “Flaming Eagle” Mooney, who has been in the news many times over the last several years, made headlines again last month with claims that sacramental marijuana was seized by officials. Mooney, along with Joy Graves, claim to be leaders of the bogus Oklevueha NAC based in Gunnison, Utah. According an article published on January 26, 2016 on the Court House News website, the pair is suing the US government, along with the US Postal Service, in Federal Court for seizing the marijuana.

Consequently, Mooney, along with his wife Linda, were caught with 12,000 peyote buttons, which were seized by law enforcement, in 2000. The non-Indian couple subsequently agreed to stop using peyote as a condition of the dismissal of several charges involving a controlled substance. So, the Oklevueha chapter is not affiliated with any bona fide NAC which considers peyote as a sacrament.

The article also states that “Graves says she mailed 5 ounces of marijuana to a church member in Ohio on Dec. 10 last year, but it never arrived. A week after she mailed it, she says, the Post Office’s tracking website reported that her package had been seized by law enforcement.”

Mooney and Graves claim that their marijuana is considered a sacrament and was seized illegally. Marijuana is legal in Oregon, where Graves heads up a bogus NAC chapter. However, it is illegal to send marijuana through the mail. Again, the AIRFA Amendments of 1994 don’t apply to marijuana.

Consequently, a Brief of Amici Curiae was filed in 2014 with the Ninth Circuit Court by the National Council of Native American Churches, The Native American Church of North America, The Azzee’ Bee Nahaga of Diné Nation and both The Native American Churches of Oklahoma and South Dakota. This brief was filed in Docket No. 14-15143: Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc.; Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney (Plaintiff/Appellants) v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., as US Attorney General, et al. The brief states:

The Amici NAC organizations do not recognize Oklevueha as a chapter, nor does it recognize Mooney as a member. In addition, Amici organizations do not recognize, condone, or allow the religious use of marijuana, or any other substance other than peyote in any of its religious services. To the contrary, the only plant that serves as a sacrament in the NAC is peyote, and without peyote, the NAC services could not take place. The Amici organizations fully reject Appellants’ contention that marijuana serves as a substitute for peyote in services of any Native American Church.

Similarly, the AIRFA Amendments do not apply in this case. The statute expressly and exclusively provides an exemption to federal and state drug laws for members of federally-recognized Indian tribes who use peyote in traditional Indian religious practices. Mr. Mooney, by his own admission, not a member of a federally-recognized tribe, and in this case, neither he nor Oklevueha seeks legal protection for the use of peyote. The AIRFA Amendments do not apply in a case like this one where an individual who is not a member of a federally recognized tribe seeks legal protection for the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana.

Mooney has a website where he claims to have been given a blessing in 1998 by the late Leslie Fool Bull, who served as the Chairman of the Native American Church of South Dakota. Mooney alleges that he was told by the late Fool Bull to “take this medicine to the white man.” He also claims on his website that this “blessing” was witnessed by Kirk Fool Bull, son of the late spiritual leader.

However, in an affidavit dated January 28, 2016, Kirk Fool Bull denies witnessing his late father giving Mooney any kind of blessing to distribute peyote to non-Indians. The late Leslie Fool Bull only wished Mooney safe travels, after the non-Indian paid the late Fool Bull an impromptu visit in the Rapid City Regional Hospital. Kirk also states in his affidavit he only gave Mooney his phone number so the non-Indian could call when he returned home safely.

Mooney is dangerous. He puts our right to use and possess the sacred peyote at risk with his attempt to include the use of marijuana in the AIRFA. Our medicine people fought hard to guarantee our freedom to attend our sacred NAC ceremonies and use peyote as a sacrament. Mooney, as well as countless non-Indians like him, are a threat to that freedom.

Flag flown at half-staff at Fort Laramie in memory of Lakota woman

Honoring Maynadier & Spotted Tail

This was in the StarHerald on Jan. 31:


In respect for and remembrance of Mary Jane Spotted Tail, the flag flew at half-staff at Fort Laramie National Historic Site on an uncharacteristically calm morning at the Grand Old Fort on Friday. Mary Jane is the direct descendant of Lakota Sioux Chief Spotted Tail and his beloved daughter, Mni Akuwin, who he buried at Fort Laramie in 1866 per her last request.
Mary Jane Spotted Tail was instrumental in having Mni Akuwin re-interred at Fort Laramie NHS in June 2005, and in 2007, with adopting the descendants of Col. Henry Maynadier, commanding officer of the Fort at the time of the original burial, into the Spotted Tail family. A memorial to Mni Akuwin is located on the hill near the hospital ruins, and plans are being made to establish a memorial to Mary Jane at the site by descendents of both…

View original post 18 more words