Honor The Treaties

Our Lakota origin story recounts our emergence from Wind Cave in the Black Hills. No other people on Earth can say they were born from Wind Cave.

Our ancestors negotiated treaties with the federal government in good faith. The Black Hills were set aside for the Oceti Sakowin because of the treaties. Yet, the discovery of gold saw the treaties signed by the federal government officials horribly violated.

Treaties, according to the United States, are the “supreme law of the land.” Yet, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 has never been upheld by the federal government. Treaty law was violated and the illegal theft of our sacred HeSapa happened when the wasicu discovered gold in 1874. The gold made the wasicu crazy. They’ve never fully recovered from their insanity.

The lawsuit filed to win back the Black Hills by the Oceti Sakowinresulted in a large cash settlement. The money has never been accepted by our people because the Black Hills were never for sale. The money continues to earn interest in some wasicu bank.

Our world is dealing with a dangerous pandemic. The corona virus (COVID-19) continues to infect people all over this country, this state and our tribal lands. Our tribes had to create new laws to protect citizens from uncontrolled outbreaks of COVID-19.

Yet, Governor Kristi Noem disregarded safely and hosted President Donald Trump (POTUS) to watch Chinese-made fireworks explode. Also, news outlets reported that a member of the POTUS crew test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in South Dakota last week. Despite the positive case in the POTUS crew, there was no social distancing displayed by the governor or any of the wasicu in the group. Most attendees also did not wear face masks.

I saw many relatives posting on social media about the POTUS speech at Mount Rushmore. I don’t watch any of the news networks on television anymore. And I specifically won’t watch any broadcasts of the POTUS talking because I refuse to suffer his evil voice. Hearing him verbalize his hateful words has the same effect as the screech of someone dragging their fingernails slowly down a chalkboard. Trump’s voice is extremely irritating to many people.

Photo by Willie White (NDN Collective)
Photo taken near Keystone SD on Friday, July 3, 2020. Willie White (NDN Collective) photo.

While you were all watching Noem and Trump ham it up in front of the network cameras, I watched several live feeds shared by Indigenous people and allies providing coverage of the protest against the POTUS visit to the HeSapa. The courage displayed by our long-gone ancestors was definitely brought into the present by Lakota treaty protectors. The highway was shut down for several hours by strong treaty protectors holding down the front line in the face of fully-armed police wearing riot gear.

Keystone, SD on July 3, 2020. Courtesy photo.

The treaty protectors stood fearless on an asphalt highway for several hours in the July heat against a mob of National Guard police sent to push them off the road in our sacred Black Hills. They sacrificed their safety by putting themselves in harms way. A major highlight was the livestream depicting an Indigenous Sister bravely counting coup on the police line with an Oglala Lakota Nation flag.

Many Lakota people and their allies suffered both the verbal and physical abuse of white supremacists on July 3 in our sacred HeSapa. Several others sacrificed their freedom by being arrested and taken to Pennington County Jail.

Tilsen 1

Most of those arrested were released over the weekend. Nick Tilsen – NDN Collective President/CEO and an organizer of the protest – was still being held in Pennington County Jail on Monday. Tilsen faces several charges as a political prisoner for his leadership as a treaty protector.

Wopila Nick! You showed us how to defend the sacred HeSapa for the coming generations. We appreciate your sacrifice!

A letter from -Viggo Mortensen

A letter from -Viggo Mortensen

Mount Rushmore

A little historical perspective to keep in mind about Mount Rushmore, site of Donald Trump’s controversial Independence Day celebration this weekend:

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in the sacred Lakota He Sápa (Black Hills), was created by sculptor Gutzon Borglum nearly 80 years ago.

He had previously been hired by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to carve out of Stone Mountain, Georgia, a “shrine to the South” – an enormous sculpture commemorating military icons of the Confederacy, including generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. He became involved in Ku Klux Klan politics, joining them for a torch-light ceremony atop Stone Mountain in 1915. It is notable that for the next 50 years, until 1965, an annual Labor Day KKK cross-burning ceremony was celebrated up on Stone Mountain.

Like Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain, prior to European occupation and seizure of the property, had been a sacred Native American site. In the case of Stone Mountain, when Europeans first learned of the place in 1567, it was inhabited and venerated by the Creek and, to a lesser extent, Cherokee peoples.

Mount Rushmore
Stone Mountain in 1910. Courtesy photo.

Mrs. C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy who had been instrumental in advancing the Stone Mountain project, welcomed Borglum at the Atlanta train station and took him to the mountain for an exploratory visit, introucing the sculptor to the owner of the property, Sam Venable, an active member of th KKK. After the release of D. W. Griffith’s Klan-glorifying “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915, the revived KKK was riding high. Despite Borglum’s Klan connections, Mrs. Plane “would not shake his hand – he was, after all, a Yankee”. In a letter to Borglum, she had written about the proposed monument: “I feel it is due to the Klan, which saved us from Negro dominations and carpetbag rule, that it be immortalized on Stone Mountain. Why not represent a small group of them in their nightly uniform approaching in the distance?” Borglum, impressed by the vast granite face that would be his enormous canvas, gladly accepted the offer to create the Confederate monument. But things gradually turned sour between Borglum and his employers.

Borglum was dismissed from the Stone Mountain project in 1925, after it had stalled owing to financial confilcts with his employers and infighting within the Ku Klux Klan itself, the group funding a significant part of the project. An additional reason for Borglum’s dismissal was that he had accepted an offer to carve the heads of U.S. presidents in South Dakota – in particular of the Confederate South’s sworn enemy President Abraham Lincoln.

After many stops and starts, begining with the hiatus during World War II and then political complications following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, the work of a series of sculptors that took on the job after Borglum’s firing culminated in Stone Mountain Park, “as a memorial to the Confederacy”, which was officially opened to the public on 14 April, 1965 – exactly 100 years to the day after Lincoln’s assassination.

Stone Mountain now. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

After the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, many people across the country began to call for the removal of Confederate monuments. Georgia State Representative and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called for the erasure, by sandblasting, of Stone Mountain’s carving. She called it “a blight upon our state”. As we know, the demand for Confederate monument removals continues to grow today as a result of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests across the nation and around the world.

Although numerous tribal groups have insisted that President Trump cancel his Mount Rushmore 4th of July celebration, he will, of course, go ahead as planned, in yet another insensitive effort to sow division in the country and gratify extremist elements of his white nationalist base. Native American groups have long tried to get the monument of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt removed from the sacred Black Hills of the Oglala Lakota people. Recently, the president of the Oglala tribe, Julian Bear Runner, has ordered Trump to cancel today’s event. As he said to The Guardian newspaper, ““The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he’s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, and I have to tell him he doesn’t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time”.

It is fitting that Borglum, a native Idahoan with white supremacist leanings who claimed to be worried about what he termed “mongrel hordes” overrunning the “Nordic” purity of the West, should have been tasked to create the gigantic affront to the Oglala Lakota people and to all indigenous peoples of the U.S. About Native Americans he once said “I would not trust an Indian, off-hand, 9 out of 10, where I would not trust a white man 1 out of 10”. That is the legacy that Trump is celebrating today, apart from his egomaniacal desire to be seen as a worthy heir to and member in good standing of the collection of giant heads of previous renowned Christian presidents of the United States of America, a country supposedly created as “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. As Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of the NDN Collective, a national organization dedicated to building Indigenous power recently said, Trump is “pushing these narratives of white supremacy, and he’s digging in deeper and deeper, using these symbols of grave injustice, and couching them as part of the great American story”. Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, addressed native tribal views on Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills during his recent interview by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now”:

“And so, the act of, one, stealing our land, and then carving the faces of four white men, who were colonizers, who committed genocide against Indigenous people, is an egregious act of violence. And then, furthermore, for it to be celebrated as the shrine of democracy, you know, some people just don’t know — people talk about Abraham Lincoln as being one of the better presidents in the history of the country. Well, you know, people don’t realize that, on one hand, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and then he also ordered the largest mass hanging in the history of the United States, when he ordered the execution of 38 Dakota people after the uprising in Dakota territory in southern Minnesota.

Mount Rushmore now. Courtesy photo.

These parts of our history are the truth and the reality. This is an act of violence and aggression against us, and it’s also pushing this false narrative about American democracy, when we actually really should be uplifting the truths of what happened throughout history and how those truths are directly connected to the disparities that exist today in society amongst Indigenous people.”

From Perceval Press we wish all citizens a happy and peaceful Fourth of July weekend, and ask that you bear in mind the words of Oglala Lakota leader and holy man Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) after his visit to New York in 1866, following the devastating Civil War:

“I did not see anything to help my people. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”

And, after meditating in the Black Hills:

“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.” Heȟáka Sápa

Heȟáka Sápa. Courtesy photo.

Submitted by -Viggo Mortensen

More on Lateral Violence

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.

More on Lateral Violence

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.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Day

My great-grandparents of Salt Camp on the Rosebud Reservation.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. A majority of our Lakota elders suffer abuse every single day. Their adult children take advantage of them. Some of them have adult grandchildren who also take advantage of them.

Our Lakota elders are our most valuable resource. Many tribes have approved resolutions allowing elders to receive certain benefits. On Rosebud, a person is considered an elder when they reach 55 years of age.

Today, there are many Lakota grandparents who are financially supporting their adult children, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It’s sad to see our Lakota elders struggle to provide for their adult children and grandchildren as many of our grandparents live on a fixed income.

The majority of retired elders worked their entire lives. Upon retirement they are entitled to either a pension from their job, social security benefits or both. However, the high cost of rent, electricity, propane, wood and groceries leaves many of our grandparents short of funds. Add to that the price gouging which happens on many reservations and our grandparents run out of money before the end of the month. Yet, they still find ways to provide for their grandchildren by paying for birthday parties, holiday meals, graduation necessities, clothing, shoes and other needs.

My late grandfather of Owl Bonnet Community on the Rosebud Reservation.


There are many ways our Lakota elders are being abused. Their adult children will live off them and not lift a finger to help clean the house or pay bills. Some elders have their money or debit cards taken away from them by their adult children or grandchildren.

Lakota elders also suffer from the substance abuse of their children and grandchildren. That is, the elders suffer when their adult children and grandchildren party in their homes. Alcohol and methamphetamine parties happen every single day on our reservations and it’s our elders who really suffer. When there is a houseful of belligerent drunks, anything can happen. Sometimes elders are beaten or even killed when they refuse to hand over their money to other adult relatives living with them.

Grandma Vi
My late grandmother of Owl Bonnet Community on the Rosebud Reservation.

Several elders have been evicted from their homes on the Rosebud reservation due to their homes being contaminated because of the high methamphetamine use of other adults living with them. Consequently, it’s not only abusive to do meth in an elder’s home which results in eviction by the HUD funded Indian Housing Authority on our reservations, it’s also abusive to pursue the eviction of any elder. But our people who oversee these Indian Housing Authority offices on our reservations will tell you they have to follow policy, even when it means forcing elders into homelessness.

Our tribal authorities aren’t much help when it comes to the abuse of Lakota elders. They also will tell you they have to follow policy, even when it means putting respected Lakota elders at risk. For example, some elders cannot qualify for energy assistance because they are over-income. Lakota elders are living without the basic necessity of tribally funded electricity or propane because they supposedly make too much money, even though they are living on a fixed income.

Our tribe and people living on our reservations have forgotten what it means to respect Lakota elders. Our grandparents carry cultural knowledge passed on by ancestors. A majority of our elders on Rosebud are fluent Lakota speakers. When our young people have questions about our Lakota language or ceremony, they will likely look for an elder to help them figure out the answers they are seeking.

We still have several Lakota elders who are role models for all of us; they are not ashamed to speak the Lakota language and many still participate in our ceremonies. We must do more to take care of elders.

My great-grandmothers of Salt Camp on the Rosebud Reservation.

#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.

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.

zachary bear heels
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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



©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

©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



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.


Our Children are Sacred


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