#BlackLivesMatter #LakotaLivesMatter

The Indigenous peoples of Mother Earth have always been looked upon with distain on by governments as not being human beings. In fact, Black or African people who were kidnapped from their country and brought to Turtle Island were considered only 3/5 human for many, many decades.

In addition, Lakota and other people Indigenous to Turtle Island are still referred to as savages in the United States Constitution. Consequently, our ancestors were only offered full citizenship in this country on June 2, 1924 – after they volunteered to fight in American wars against human beings living on other continents.

The cold-blooded murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week has sparked a rash of criminal activity in many cities in this country. Reports of outsiders – many self-identifying as white supremacists – traveling to other cities to start riots and even looting businesses are being reported by many news sources.

For example, I saw a photo on social media about a peaceful protest in Rapid City. There were some trucks driving around the protest area flying both American and Confederate flags on their vehicles. One truck in the photo had Mellette County license plates. Mellette County contains many parcels of land held in trust for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. It says a lot about our neighbors when they travel to Rapid City or other places to instigate violence and criminal activity.

Consequently, people of color being murdered in cold blood by police officers is nothing new. The Rosebud reservation is no exception. There have been at least three young Lakota men gunned down by fellow tribal citizens employed by the Rosebud Police Department in the past five years. Obviously, those murders were determined to be justified as no police officers have been arrested. The officers were cleared to go back to work and are now out there patrolling our reservation.

Justice for these young men, murdered in cold blood by tribal police officers, was not served on Rosebud.

RaymondGassman
Raymond Gassman

In February 2016, Raymond Gassman was shot and killed after being chased into a home by a Rosebud Police officer. This killing was downplayed by authorities and others because Gassman was on escape status from a halfway house. There were also no arrests in this shooting.

Adam Poor Bear
Adam Poor Bear

In March 2018, Adam “Skinny” Poor Bear was 28 years old when he was shot and killed by a tribal police officer. There were no arrests in this shooting.

Jacob Spotted Tail
Jacob Archambault Spotted Tail

In January 2019, Jacob Archambault Spotted Tail was pursued by tribal police officers through the Rosebud community. The chase ended with Spotted Tail’s death in the middle of Rosebud. A video was posted on social media on the same day this young man was killed. Viewers couldn’t see much through the trees, but the volley of shots fired was an unmistakable sound. The amateur video was removed from social media shortly after it was posted. Even though he was shot over a dozen times, Spotted Tail’s death was later justified by authorities.

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Zachary Bear Heels

Also, the death of Rosebud tribal citizen Zachary Bear Heels in 2017 – who died in Omaha, Nebraska after being assaulted repeatedly with a taser – resulted in the termination of several police officers involved in the killing. The officers who killed Bear Heels were all reinstated to their positions in April 2020. Justice was not served. A memorial walk will be held in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 5, 2020.

Consequently, there is generally no justice served when a person of color is murdered in cold blood by police officers. Their higher ups work hard to cover up the crimes, including the killing of unarmed people. The protests happening now will continue to escalate until justice is served for innocent victims killed in cold blood by men wearing a badge and carrying weapons funded by taxpayer dollars.

 

Artists Fundraising for DV Shelter

Artists Fundraising for Shelter 2
This portrait was created to remember MMIW. Courtesy photo.

SPRINGFIELD, S.D. – Domestic Violence (DV) is a harsh reality for Indian Country, 4 out of 5 American Indian/Alaska Native women are suffering from domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Nearly every reservation in this state has a shelter offering safety for Lakota women who have been battered by their husband, boyfriend or companion. These shelters offer a safe haven for women and their children who want to get away from an abuser.

Also, active and/or unsolved cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) continue to grow in all our communities. The Red Dress has become a global symbol of MMIW. Many artists have incorporated the Red Dress into their artwork.

Last winter, artists from the South Dakota State Prison facilities created 200 pairs of earrings and donating sales proceeds to both the Urban Indian Health Center in Sioux Falls and the Red Ribbon Skirt Society of the Black Hills. Currently, artists are working on creating twice as many earrings to raise funds for a donation to the Where All Women Are Honored – Winyan Wicayuonihan Oyanke Shelter in Rapid City, SD.

“This project is a way for us to give back to our women, my family and community,” stated Cody Hopkins, an Oglala Lakota spokesman for the project. A goal was to have all the earrings done by the April 2020 wacipi. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the project down. Still, approximately 20 artists are working hard to create earrings for sale.

Artists Fundraising for DV Shelter 1
The Red Dress has become a global symbol of MMIW. Cante Hunkesni Win photo.

Artists hope to offer several hundred pairs of Red Dress earrings for sale. Each pair is being sold for $25 – plus a $5 shipping charge – which totals $30. You can pay through PayPal by emailing Melissa Montgomery at fllngstar77@gmail.com.

All money raised from sales will be donated to the Where All Women Are Honored – Winyan Wicayuonihan Oyanke Shelter in Rapid City, SD. Executive Director Norma Rendon founded this safe space for women and children wanting to leave abusive situations. Artists are hoping to raise $5,000 to donate to this facility.

“We want to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” added Hopkins. “Everything we make will go back to serving women and children in the Lakota community. This is just one of several fundraisers we want to do for our relatives.”

The Lakota and other Indigenous men behind the walls in Sioux Falls and Yankton depend on their spirituality to stay grounded. During the pandemic, their access to Inipi and other ceremony is limited because of social distancing rules. Lakota spirituality has helped most of the men to adopt a healthier view of themselves, as well as women and children. They are able to see how their crimes directly affected the women and children.

“We are sorry for the hurt and pain we’ve caused our family and other relatives,” Hopkins stated. “We want to give back to the community. We pray for all women and children who are still suffering trauma. Making and selling the Red Dress earrings are just one way to give back.”

Supplies for the fundraiser were purchased out of pocket by the artists. Information on the Red Dress earrings are posted on the Ground Zero for Voices Facebook page. You can also email Melissa Montgomery at fllngstar77@gmail.com to buy a pair.

 

Rosebud Reservation Locks Down

Rosebud Sioux Tribal Flag0002

Watch YouTube Video Here

From President Rodney M. Bordeaux:

Reservation Wide Lockdown

There are now officially up to 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Todd County.I am advising that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe will be locked down effective at midnight tonight (12:01 AM) 05/14/20 until 05/17/20 at 6 AM.

This is being done pursuant to RST Council Resolution 2020-75, in which the RST Council authorized me to act in such a manner.

I had hoped that this was not necessary. Unfortunately, there were too many people in our community who refused to take precautions of social distancing and the wearing of masks in public and also refused to self-quarantine or take any of this seriously. We are officially up to 13 cases in Todd County. We fear that this number will continue to rise and we can no longer wait.

Before I get too far into the details, I would like to acknowledge those among us who have been practicing social distancing, who have been wearing the face masks, and who have been in compliance with the stay at home orders this whole time.
We appreciate the sacrifice each of you have made during this troubling time.

I.
RST Law Enforcement will have the following checkpoints:
Highway 83 near Nebraska State Line/Rosebud Casino Highway 18 east of Okreek Highway 18 near Upper Cut Meat Highway 44 around Corn Creek community and Highway 44 JCT near White River We will be having random checkpoints at other locations as well. Commercial traffic will be allowed to proceed through the checkpoints on to their destinations without issue.

III.
People from outside of the area will be advised that our county has had a substantial increase in cases of COVID and that they are encouraged to continue through to their destination and not stop within Todd County.

IV.
Businesses will only be permitted to maintain hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the lockdown. This will allow families to get the supplies that they might need during the lockdown. This will allow ranchers to tend to their livestock. Our people are expected to be within their homes or yards unless they are out getting supplies as needed or tending their livestock between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Anyone found away from their homes and yards may be arrested or issued citations to appear in court under the emergency directives announced yesterday. TECRO workers on construction projects will be able to go to the worksites provided they are named on a list to be provided by TECRO.

VI.
Essential employees will be permitted to go to work unless they can work from home. The President’s Office will provide a list of essential employees who will be required to physically come to work during the lockdown. Simply having a badge indicating that you are an essential employee will not authorize you to travel—you need to be on the list.

VII.
Dialysis treatments and transportation will be permitted to continue as scheduled through the lockdown. Medical Professionals and affiliated staff will be permitted to travel as long as they are performing their official duties.

VIII. Local residents will not be permitted to leave Todd County unless they have an existing medical or dental appointment and proof of the appointment/procedure.

The goal of this lockdown is so that we can do the contact tracing that we need to do to work on suppression of the spread of this virus.

 

Our Lives Matter

The survival of Lakota people is paramount. Corona virus (COVID-19) is a highly contagious sickness. The Oglala Lakota Nation and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe acted quickly to protect their tribal citizens from an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. This happened when both tribes established highway checkpoints on major roads running through their territory. These efforts have kept the total number of COVID-19 cases on each reservation very low, according to the SD Department of Health website.

Those same checkpoints on highways running through Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River made headlines on national news networks as Governor Kristi Noem threatened both tribes with legal action if border crossing points weren’t removed.

Consequently, Rosebud took no action to establish highway checkpoints. Today, the SD Department of Health website shows Todd County has 13 confirmed cases. As of May 12, there have been 5 people who have recovered from COVID-19. There are now 8 active COVID-19 cases on the Rosebud reservation.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the difference in numbers of positive cases; again, the Oglala and Cheyenne River tribes took precautions to protect their people from an outbreak of COVID-19. The efforts of tribal officials on both reservations limited the total number of infections. The state took zero precautions and now there are 3,663 people who’ve contracted the virus, as of May 12.

Governor Noem wants South Dakota open for the inevitable influx of tourists. Vacationers from all over the world are now allowed to visit, mingle and stay here. Tourists are already driving and stopping along interstate 90, as well as numerous highways in this state. For instance, I read a report from an Oglala Lakota person stationed at a checkpoint on a highway leading into the Pine Ridge where a car with tourists was stopped at the border; they were asked to detour around the reservation, which they reportedly did.

The border checkpoints on the Oglala and Cheyenne River roadways are an example of true tribal sovereignty in action. Just because the governor refuses to take adequate precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in South Dakota, it doesn’t mean the tribes should blindly follow. Governor Noem basically left all South Dakota counties and cities to fend for themselves in establishing pandemic precautions. So, that left county/city governments to implement their own safety measures; there were no threats from Governor Noem in those cases.

The nine tribal governments must be allowed to assert their authority to make their own decisions regarding COVID-19 precautions. Yet, some tribes don’t believe they have the authority to make their own decisions, even though they are actually on the same political level as states.

Rosebud could have taken the same precautions as Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River by establishing highway checkpoints. It shouldn’t matter what the state dictates; the health of our Lakota people must have absolute priority. Consequently, people who have been exposed to others who have tested positive for COVID-19 are still partying around the Rosebud like nothing is wrong. We’re all at risk.

On every reservation in this country, we have relatives and friends who are on the front lines. These include police officers, health care workers, as well as employees working in grocery stores, post offices, nursing homes and driving delivery trucks. They are doing everything they can to keep us safe. But their efforts are for naught if tribal government can’t make a decision to ensure the safety of all of us.

Many Lakota people are in support of the efforts of OST President Julian Bear Runner and CRST Chairman Harold Frazier. Our ancestors didn’t fight and die for us to be afraid of a federal lawsuit. Prayers for all of humanity for Wicozani.

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Citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe man a checkpoint on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on May 10, 2020. Photo courtesy Anna Halverson

 

ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE TO CREATE NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST NATIVE OWNED AND MANAGED BISON HERD

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©Vi Waln Photography 2020

ROSEBUD RESERVATION – Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), the economic arm of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has secured nearly 28,000 acres of native grassland for the creation of a new plains bison herd with the support of the Rosebud’s Tribal Land Enterprise. With a capacity to support 1,500 animals, the Wolakota Buffalo Range will become North America’s largest Native American owned and managed bison herd. The project is being advanced by a partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and with support from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).

 

The Wolakota Buffalo Range combines Lakota-based regenerative agriculture and social impact investment to generate socioeconomic opportunity. “We are doing something that has never been done. It shows what is possible when we create multiple bottom line initiatives supporting the environment, people, fiscal responsibility, and Native nation building,” REDCO’s CEO, Wizipan Little Elk said.

 

In a strong show of support for the project, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced the DOI’s 2020 Bison Conservation Initiative. The Initiative is the 10-year direction for the Department and is organized around five goals: wild, healthy bison herds, genetic conservation, ecological restoration, cultural restoration, and shared stewardship. In a strong show of commitment to those goals and to the principles of the Wolakota project, DOI will send hundreds of bison over the next five years from public conservation herds managed by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the newly created range on the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. The historic project will increase the overall number of Native American owned bison by seven percent nationally.

 

“Interior is uniquely positioned to lead the way for shared stewardship of this iconic American species,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “This 10-year plan will guide our collaboration with states, tribes, private conservationists and managers across public lands to advance conservation efforts and honor iconic wild bison.”

 

Over the past five years, WWF has invested more than $2.2 million in bison restoration efforts with indigenous communities in the Northern Great Plains. This new opportunity, which aligns strongly with Lakota foundational values and beliefs, will become a model for cultural and ecological restoration efforts by Native American nations across the U.S.

 

Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund said, “The bison looms large in the culture and traditions of Native nations. This announcement matters for several reasons: it represents a homecoming for this iconic species, and it’s also a reunion with the communities who lived with them for centuries in a symbiotic relationship. We are honored to be partners in this effort with the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Department of the Interior, and we look forward to seeing the bison return to the Rosebud Reservation later this year.”

 

The first transfers of bison from DOI herds to Rosebud are expected to occur in the fall of 2020. DOI will maintain their bison distribution protocol for other eligible candidates. Visit the Wolakota website to learn more www.rosebudbuffalo.org

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©Vi Waln Photography 2020

Mental Health and Lakota Children

Mental Health day

 

This week (May 3-9, 2020) is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. May 7 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. We claim our children are sacred but the majority of Lakota people don’t walk the talk.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) “are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.

ACEs include, but are not limited to: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, intimate partner violence, mother treated violently, substance misuse within household, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce and an incarcerated household member.” https://tinyurl.com/ya94k789

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Lots of innocent Lakota children are suffering trauma while you read this. Parents, guardians, grandparents or other caregivers are inflicting abuse on Lakota wakanyeja every minute of every day. Trauma isn’t just physical beatings; mental, emotional and spiritual maltreatment are also child abuse.

There are many little children, as well as teenagers, acting out the effects of their trauma. There are many children on our reservations who learn how to bully by watching their parents or grandparents. People responsible for caring for children may often believe they only have to feed, clothe and provide shelter for the small children in their homes. They remain ignorant to how their bad behavior is traumatizing the children living in their home.

For example, there are Lakota people whom are hopelessly addicted to cussing, drinking alcohol, using meth, etc. Substance abuse regularly happens in front of our Lakota children in the home. There are also Lakota children witnessing extreme levels of violence in their homes. Yelling, physical assaults, nonstop use of of the word “fuck” – along with other forms of adult dysfunction – are behaviors our children and teens are exposed to every day.

People who think they have to cuss regularly inflict trauma. It’s as bad as alcohol or drug abuse. Cussing is a form of violence; it conjures negative energy which affects everyone around you. It’s also a form of ignorance when you cuss all the time; or are unable to carry on a normal conversation without saying “fuck” between every other word.

Also, when every other word out of your mouth is fuck – you can be certain the children and teens in your care will follow the terrible example you’re setting. This is obvious in the number of small children who call adults “bitch” or other disrespectful names. It’s not funny when I hear a 4-year-old child say “fuck you” to an adult. Negative adult behaviors inflict trauma on our Lakota wakanyeja.

Right this very minute, there are little girls, little boys and babies in diapers at home alone. They don’t have clean clothes. Some children don’t have any food in the house because the TANF/SNAP card was sold for drugs or alcohol. These are traumatized children who will grow into adults and suffer a myriad of problems in their lives.

The trauma children suffer stays with them. It isn’t forgotten when they reach adulthood. They will likely inflict the same kind of trauma on their own children, perpetuating the violence we all witness on a regular basis. Our children deserve a healthy childhood in a home with caring, sober adults. Our children need to eat a good meal, have clean clothes to wear, as well as look forward to a safe home daily. Parents are obligated to help their children grow into healthy adults.

It’s up to you to raise healthy children. Do your part to break the vicious cycle.

 

Wakanyeja
Our Children are Sacred

 

Cante Hunkesni Win (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist.

 

 

#MMIW

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May 5 is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Awareness Day. Racing Magpie, in downtown Rapid City, has space dedicated to MMIW. The room is a sad, powerful place. I was moved when visiting the room filled with Red Dresses to remember MMIW. I explained to my Takoja the lives of the women I knew and how they died.

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Candace Rough Surface was murdered in 1980.

Candace Rough Surface is one of the names written on a small piece of paper and pinned to a red dress in the room at Racing Magpie. She was raped and killed in 1980 by two wasicu teenagers. The shooter, Nicholas Scherr, was sentenced to 100 years in prison. He was granted parole and released from prison last summer. He reportedly lives in Sioux Falls.

Jancita_Eagle_Deer
Jancita Eagle Deer #MMIW

The death of Jancita Eagle Deer in 1975 is another example of a Lakota woman who died under mysterious circumstances. She was hit by a car in Nebraska, 200 miles away from her home on the Rosebud Reservation. No one was ever arrested in connection with in her death.

Delphine Crow Dog is another Lakota woman who died mysteriously in 1972. Her body was found southwest of the St. Francis Community on the Rosebud Reservation. Again, no suspects were ever arrested in her death.

Mona Two Eagle
Mona Two Eagle MMIW

Mona Two Eagle is another Lakota woman whose body was found on the Rosebud. The feds claimed they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the man many of us suspect as her murderer. He still walks free.

Lakota – as well as other Indigenous women, men and children – have been murdered and gone missing for decades, if not centuries. For example, a 4-month-old Lakota baby girl, taken from the arms of her murdered mother at Wounded Knee in 1890, is today known by the world as Zintkala Nuni (Lost Bird). Despite being left on the killing fields at Wounded Knee for four days in freezing temperatures following the massacre; she was the miracle baby who made a full recovery under the care of her Lakota relatives.

Lost Bird
Zintkala Nuni was kidnapped by General Colby, who kept her as a trophy and sexually abused her.

As a child, Lost Bird was kidnapped by the wasicu General Leonard Colby. Zintkala Nuni was a missing Indigenous girl who was given the wasicu name Margaret Elizabeth Colby. The General was suspected of sexually abusing her when she was a teen and fathering her stillborn child.

She later participated in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show with other Lakota relatives. The life and death of Lost Bird is tragic. She died in 1920 on Valentine’s day. In 1991, Lost Bird’s remains were reinterred, near her mother buried in the Wounded Knee mass grave, during a ceremony led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse.

Unfortunately, we will see increased MMIW cases with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. When construction begins, thousands of workers will flock to our area. Temporary camps will be established near the pipeline route and will pose a true threat with a high potential to devastate the lives of our people.

So, even though many people view MMIW as a contemporary issue, it’s really nothing new to us. We always remember our missing and/or murdered women, men, teenagers and children. Living in this colonized world as an Indigenous person is extremely dangerous; our people disappear without a trace more often than we want to admit.

Larissa Lone Hill
Larissa Lone Hill
Alex Vasquez
Alex Vasquez

On Pine Ridge, relatives are still looking for Larissa Lone Hill, a Lakota woman who disappeared in October 2016. Also missing is Alex Vasquez, who disappeared in October 2015.

Our prayers are with the Sicangu tribal citizen found in the St. Francis Community over the weekend. There is so much tragedy in our communities; our people have no protection. I urge you all to please be aware of your surroundings and stay safe.

 

Cante Hunkesni Win (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist.

Rosebud bans alcohol, considers checkpoints on border

ROSEBUD RESERVATION – Last week, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council banned alcohol on the reservation due to the state of emergency declared because of the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Rosebud Casino and Fuel Plaza were the only licensed alcohol outlets before the COVID-19 pandemic. When both businesses closed in late March, there were no longer any licensed outlets selling alcohol. When the decision was made to re-open the Fuel Plaza during week days, the tribal council took the action to ban alcohol. While the Rosebud Casino remains closed, the Fuel Plaza reopened last week. Hours are 8am-7pm, Monday through Friday. A limit of 10 customers will be allowed in the store at one time. No children are allowed in the Fuel Plaza.

President Rodney Bordeaux also announced that the tribal headquarters will remain closed to the public through May 29, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic situation will be reassessed at that time. Essential programs are still providing limited services to tribal citizens.

“It makes me proud as an elected leader to see essential employees show up on a daily basis to serve the tribe,” stated Bordeaux. Call 605-747-2381 to learn more about what services are being provided.

The tribe is also considering developing border checkpoints within a week or two to monitor traffic coming and leaving the reservation. Tribal officials are currently working with state and county governments to set this up. Checkpoints will be funded with money designed for the tribe under COVID-19 relief. President Bordeaux reported funding was also received by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

The RST Task Force has been meeting every week to formulate a response plan should there be an outbreak on the Rosebud reservation. Several sites were considered to house an overflow hospital, should there be a need for one. The Sinte Gleska University Multipurpose Center is the top choice for an overflow facility. The two other sites available are the Diabetes Prevention Program building and the Adult Correctional Facility. It would be a medical decision to expand the Rosebud Hospital to one or all of these sites if needed.

The Task Force is also working with local vendors to provide cloth face masks to adult tribal citizens on the Rosebud.

President Bordeaux recently reported there will be no evictions from SWA housing through the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked SWA tenants to please understand this is not an excuse for you to not meet rental obligations. In addition,

He also mentioned meetings with local utility companies to discuss shut-offs. “Both agencies have assured me they will do anything they can to assist customers during this time,” Bordeaux said.

The Rosebud I.H.S. hospital remains closed to the public. However, the hospital does have a machine to do quick tests for COVID-19 onsite. Results come back within 15 minutes. The hospital still has to follow the CDC guidelines set down for COVID-19 testing. Call in to determine if you need further assessment based on your symptoms.

In addition, all vehicles will be stopped upon entering the Rosebud hospital compound for a basic screening by staff. Tribal citizens requiring basic medical attention or prescription refills should call in advance. Phone lines are 605-747-0532 or 605-747-0533. The Emergency department remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those with medical emergencies. Please enter through the emergency department door. There is no dental clinic being provided while the hospital is closed, but emergencies will be seen. Women’s clinic is still available in the mobile unit parked in front of the facility. Medication refills will be delivered directly to your vehicle after you provide your information to the employee at the front entrance.

Also, there are no public wakes/funeral being held. “It is not my intent to disrespect anyone during their time of mourning,” stated President Bordeaux. “We also need to provide for the safety of the living during the pandemic.”

Holmes Funeral Home of Valentine, Nebraska provides 90 percent of reservation burials. The tribe does not want to endanger Funeral Director Karlanne Holmes or her staff by having public wakes and funerals. Until further notice by Ms. Holmes, the following protocol will be followed.

Conferences with families to make burial plans will be made by phone/text/email. Arrangements will be made for clothing, blankets, photos, etc. to be dropped off at the funeral home.

No public wakes. An option would be to have a small, private, immediate family only viewing followed by graveside service and burial. Viewings of 10 or fewer family members can be done at the funeral home, followed by a caravan to the cemetery. Viewings with more than 10 people must be conducted at the gravesite. The family may also choose to livestream the service for other relatives and friends. A public memorial service and feed should be held at a later date after the threat has passed and it has been deemed safe. If a family insists on having a wake service, they will assume all responsibility to include transport from the funeral home to wake and burial.

“We as Lakota need to rise up and support each other in our own ways,” stated President Bordeaux. “It will be some time before things get back to normal.”

President Bordeaux and Rosebud Hospital staff provide a weekly update on YouTube. Past updates are archived on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s official channel. Tribal information on the COVID-19 pandemic are posted on the RST website.

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Are Lakota Children Still Sacred?

Wakanyeja

April is designated as National Child Abuse Awareness Month. This week (April 19-25) is being observed as the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Our reservations are homes to countless victims of all ages. Sadly, not enough is being done to help keep victims safe. The corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated many dangerous environments in homes on both Rosebud and Pine Ridge.

Last week a concerned tribal citizen posted on social media about an alleged incident of child abuse she witnessed in Mission, SD. The alleged child abuse involved a little boy being knocked down on his face in view of everyone in front of Rosebud Exchange.

Apparently, a local police officer (who does not have jurisdiction over tribal citizens) was informed about the alleged abuse as the man and child were still walking along highway 18 in Mission. The police officer responded with “I’ll call someone.” The next part of the post on social media talks about a Rosebud tribal police unit pulling up and talking to the alleged child abuser. The police unit then appeared “to give him a ride home.” The tribal citizen has posted subsequent updates sharing concern about the safety of this child.

How are concerned tribal citizens expected to report crimes they witness when the police just pull up in their cars and give alleged child abusers a ride home? There’s no justice for victims on Rosebud; not for a child assaulted by an adult in broad daylight in front of witnesses. Our people continue to lose faith in law enforcement when they learn of these incidents where the alleged abuser faced zero consequence for his actions.

According to the Children’s Bureau of the US Department of Health & Human Services, “Each state has its own definitions of child abuse and neglect that are based on standards set by federal law. Federal legislation provides a foundation for states by identifying a set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (P.L. 100–294), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111–320), retained the existing definition of child abuse and neglect as, at a minimum: Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

A 2018 report on the DHHS Children’s Bureau website states that “American Indian or Alaska Native children have the highest rate of victimization at 15.2 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity.”

Not only was this little boy physically abused, he was traumatized in front of witnesses. The trauma this little boy experiences is also reality for hundreds of Lakota children living on our reservations. We talk all the time about how sacred our children are, yet family members, law enforcement and social workers appear to do nothing to help. That is, the abuser was not arrested, instead he was given a ride home. No attempt was made to remove the child from the abusive adult.

It is up to all of us to report child abuse. The health of our unborn Lakota generations depends on every adult reporting these atrocities our children are suffering every single day.

Sadly, most of us know children suffering physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse. Abusive adults should be put in prison for the terrible crimes they commit against children. Consequently, as this boy grows older, he will abuse smaller children by inflicting on them the same abuse that he now suffers.

He will keep inter-generational trauma alive.

 

 

Vi Waln (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist. She can be reached through email viwaln@gmail.com

 

Alcohol, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse

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April is designated as the awareness month for alcohol, sexual assault and child abuse. Our world has changed dramatically due to the (COVID-19) pandemic in ways we did not expect. Some people lost our jobs and have had to seek unemployment or other assistance to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, alcohol abuse, child abuse and sexual assault incidents have likely increased in many homes due to shelter in place and/or curfew orders.

For instance, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of our children looked forward to attending school every day during the week. Some of our children looked to their school day as a refuge from the abuse they are regularly subjected too at home. School was a place where adults were not drinking alcohol. Our students also looked forward to daily hot meals during the week while they attended school. Many of our Lakota child victims looked to school as a reprieve from the sexual assaults they are subjected to in their homes.

But the students will not return to school this spring. Classes, prom, graduation, sports events and other spring school activities have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, many of us sincerely appreciate the sack meals that continue to be prepared and distributed during the week by the local school districts. Our children all have something to eat thanks to school staff, as well as the many volunteers, who work hard to distribute the sack meals.

However, the children who live under the constant threat of a drunk relative abusing, or even sexually assaulting them, are in even more danger because they are home all the time. The COVID-19 pandemic has not halted any abuse.

Yet, I do want to mention that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe paused alcohol sales at the Rosebud Casino and Plaza when both operations were shut down. Our reservation is now dry of legal alcohol sales. I don’t ever remember our reservation being dry. There was always an outlet on my reservation which either served drinks or provided off sale beer and wine products.

I realize our reservation will never be completely dry as long as we allow the illegal alcohol bootleggers to continue to push their poison in our communities. The bootleggers make alcohol available to everyone in our communities and usually won’t card people wanting to buy a jug or a can. Bootleggers also contribute to alcohol poisoning among our people. Bootleggers sell their drinks to child abusers and rapists.

We do live in an economically oppressed area but that doesn’t mean we should take advantage of people’s addictions to alcohol to make a living. So, if you or your relatives are selling beer or other alcoholic beverages illegally you are a huge contributor to alcoholism, child abuse and sexual assault.

We could be using this time at home for self-improvement. Those of you who still drink yourselves into oblivion could be looking within to figure out why you are addicted to alcohol. Look at all the health issues you have because of your drinking. It’s time to change.

I’m not sure how to stop child abuse and sexual assault. There are many victims, adult and children alike, on Rosebud who fear their predator and will not tell a police officer about the abuse they are suffering. Many relatives look the other way when they could be reporting child abuse or sexual assault. Those of you who know about child abuse or sexual assault incidents and refuse to speak up are just as guilty as the perpetrator.

As long as we allow alcohol abuse, child abuse and sexual assault to continue in our communities we are at fault. Call 911 to report crimes.

Vi Waln (Lakota) is an award-winning Journalist. She can be reached through email viwaln@gmail.com