The Black Lives Matter movement has exploded in this country. There are many protests being held against police officers who have murdered Black, Latino, Asian and Lakota people in cold-blood. The protests against corrupt police have escalated in cities and towns across Turtle Island.
Consequently, the election of the sitting president in 2016 has brought many racist people out of the closets they’ve been hiding in since the Civil Rights Movement. Indigenous people have known all along that race relations never really improved – the events we’ve witnessed over the past four years have proved this to be true.
Also, some Lakota people are involved in romantic relationships with Black people. On Rosebud there are many enrolled tribal citizens who have one Black parent. You can ask any of these folks who has treated them badly because of their skin color and the majority will say their own tribal citizens call them “ni**er” more often than not.
Our young people use same racial slur frequently – they refer to one another as “my ni**a.” It’s disgusting to hear our young Lakota people refer to one another using a racial slur. Consequently, we allow our children to call one another “my ni**a” – while at the same time we take offense when the wasicu call us “prairie ni**er.” It’s confusing.
The acceptance of Lakota people calling fellow tribal members “ni**er” is a prime example of how we allow lateral violence or oppression. Many tribally enrolled relatives with a Black parent have lived here their entire life and will tell you in a heartbeat that lateral violence thrives in our reservation communities.
Consequently, the blood quantum argument is another form of lateral violence. Several tribes, including Rosebud and Pine Ridge, have amended their constitutions welcoming lineal descent enrollment. Applicants for tribal enrollment – who are less than one-fourth Lakota – can become a tribal citizen by proving they’re descended from four generations of tribally enrolled parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents.
Today, too many Lakota citizens display lateral violence toward tribally enrolled lineal descendants. Many of our people believe the lineal descendants are taking “benefits” away from those of us who have a tribal card showing us as one-quarter or more Lakota. Consequently, I question the “benefits” these folks are protecting because our tribe usually just throws crumbs at us. It’s not like we are citizens of a wealthy casino tribe drawing large per capita payments every month.
Other people argue the lineal descendants are taking our health care benefits away. I fail to see how we lose health care benefits when the Indian Health Service (IHS) sends our relatives home to die.
Lateral violence also thrives in tribal programs. For instance, last week I read several comments on a tribal program’s social media page bashing a tribally-chartered organization. That is, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Law Enforcement Facebook page insinuated it was REDCO’s fault for COVID-19 tests which allegedly produced false positives – and put IHS on a pedestal when COVID-19 retests came back negative. Confused tribal cops sang Facebook kudos to IHS.
If tribal law enforcement investigators would have looked deeper into the situation, they may have determined it was the manufacturer who sold faulty tests to a tribal entity. Instead they set up a lateral violence situation to play out on Facebook.
The tribe has policy to deal with negativity on social media. Tribal employees have been fired over Facebook posts. It’s only fair that whoever approved the Facebook post should also be fired. Tribal police should focus on eradicating methamphetamine instead of posting on Facebook.
Lakota children witness lateral violence. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. As Lakota people we could be displaying Waunsila instead of lateral violence.