Rosebud Sioux Tribe hosts High Priority Performance Goal Summit

ROSEBUD CASINO – A meeting to discuss local law enforcement efforts on the Rosebud Reservation was held here last week. In addition, an overview was provided on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) High Priority Performance Goal (HPPG) Initiative.


The HPPG Initiative was first implemented in Indian Country during 2009 on the Wind River Arapaho (Wyoming), Standing Rock Sioux (North/South Dakota), Rocky Boy Chippewa/Cree (Montana) and Mescalero Apache (New Mexico) Indian Reservations. These areas were provided with additional resources in the form of increased base federal funding to assist with efforts in reducing violent crime by at least 5%. Over a period of 24 months, criminal incidents on these four reservations combined were reduced overall by 35%.


On the Rosebud Reservation, 100% of children who reside here are exposed to violence, either directly or indirectly. On average, there are two women assaulted along with at least one child directly exposed to violence every day on Rosebud. These numbers are taken directly from the agencies who serving the victims of violent crimes.


The current phase of the HPPG Initiative involves a continuation of efforts to reduce violent crime in other parts of Indian Country. The two areas which will be focused on are the Rosebud Sioux and San Carlos Apache Reservations.


“We believe we can have the same result in these two areas,” stated Darren Cruzan, who serves as the Director of the BIA Office of Justice Services. “The BIA is not coming in to tell the tribes what to do. We prefer to come alongside the tribes as a partner to help the program succeed.”


Tribal officials from both the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe attended the one day summit. RST officials from tribal government, law enforcement, detention, tribal court, social services as well as several BIA officials also attended.


Rosebud and San Carlos were both selected for the HPPG Initiative “because of the commitment of their tribal leadership,” stated Cruzan. Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux and Chief of Police Grace Her Many Horses, along with San Carlos Tribal President Terry Rambler and Chief of Police Alejandro Benally all attended the meeting.


“We have to have a buy in by tribal leadership in order for the HPPG Initiative to be successful,” Cruzan said.


Rosebud’s Law Enforcement Service staff recently collected 1300 surveys under the HPPG Initiative in order to assess their efforts according to the tribal and community members’ perspective. The Rosebud Police Department currently has 20 officers. There will soon be 10 detailed officers from other tribal law enforcement departments coming to assist at Rosebud.

© 2012 Vi Waln

Lakota ceremony is based in love, not fear

I remember one summer when an aunt, who left the reservation at a very young age and never returned, came home to visit. Of course, she spent most of her time talking with relatives in order to catch up on the latest news about family, friends and tribal matters. Since it was summer, the discussion inevitably led to Lakota sun dance as there was one taking place on the Rosebud.


The elder auntie was quite surprised to learn her people still sun danced. She was visibly shocked when told that our people still sacrificed by piercing their skin to make offerings. She had a disgusted look on her face when she stated sun dance should be outlawed.


My first urge was to tell her about how the sun dance and other ceremonies had already been outlawed by the United States government in the 19th century. I wanted to inform her about how we fought for a very long time to have the federal government’s ban on our right to pray in our own way lifted. I also wanted to tell her about how the ceremonies continued underground after they had been outlawed. But I had to bite my tongue and not respond to her ignorance. After all, she was an elder.


Even today it is still very hard to help some of our own Lakota people understand how important ceremony is to our unborn generations and Mother Earth. Some are disconnected from Lakota spirituality. Many of our people who left the reservation during the relocation era never returned. Some Lakota people have no idea that we still pray in our ceremonies on the same land our ancestors did.


There are many contemporary Lakota people who embrace the spirituality and way of life kept alive by our ancestors through the dark times of European encroachment. Today I know many young people who absolutely love Lakota ceremony. I appreciate them, they are our future.


Organized religion is responsible for much of the colonization we see today. We are all colonized in different ways, I believe. Some of us realize this and make the effort to work on decolonizing ourselves and our family members. I am not sure if we will ever get back to the way it was when our ancestors walked Mother Earth before Columbus arrived. Yet, I am encouraged by the interest many of our young people have in living as a Lakota.


The churches worked very hard to convert us through their Christian rituals and boarding school educations. Today a majority of our families are devout Catholics, Episcopalians or are followers of some other religious denomination.


I also see many Christian people praying at Lakota altars. I don’t slight anyone for their choice of religion but I take offense when people try to influence me against how I choose to pray.


Recently, there were several flyers printed up and distributed around the Rapid City area. The online pictures I saw of the posters denounced the Lakota ways of prayer as some sort of dangerous, unhealthy cult. There were many derogatory things printed on these flyers, most of which is too offensive to share. Those of you who actually saw the flyers know how terrible they looked. In my opinion, the posters were created to spread fear through distorted information and paranoid untruths.


I didn’t think it was fair for the person or persons to actually print and distribute ugly flyers condemning our Lakota ceremonies. What is wrong with the people who did this? Their obvious mental illness and fear was openly displayed on those flyers. They tried to spread terrible lies about Lakota ceremony.


Those of us who saw the flyers continue to attend ceremony and pray for those who created the posters. Hopefully, they will one day understand that what they did was very ignorant.


I don’t see any Lakota people printing and distributing flyers about other ways of worship. What would happen if I created a bunch of strangely paranoid posters about a Church and spread them all over South Dakota? The local media would probably be all over something like that.


I could print things like how the organized religions worked hard to demonize our sacred way of life. After all, it was the churches which instilled most of the fear surrounding Lakota ceremony, right? Many leaders in the organized religions still try to spread fear about Lakota spirituality. It is wrong!


As a young adult I once worked as a receptionist for a local religious organization. One of my duties was to announce visitors who came to see the priest in charge.


One time a local medicine man was summoned to come and see the priest. Soon I could hear the priest’s voice get louder and louder in the office next to mine as he scolded the medicine man for having ceremony. I don’t even want to share what the priest said to the medicine man but I will say it was similar to what was printed on those flyers.


Even though he was harshly chastised by the priest for his spirituality, the medicine man came out of the room looking totally unfazed. He smiled at me and calmly left the building. He continued to have ceremonies on the Rosebud Reservation until he passed on several years ago.


The priest tried very hard to scare the medicine man by suggesting that God didn’t approve of Lakota spirituality. This is exactly what the person who created those ridiculous flyers tried to convey. They want people to be afraid of Lakota ceremony. Ceremony is all about prayer. Prayer is not based in fear, it comes from love.


Please remember Iktomi comes in many forms and he/she is all around us. Ignorant tricksters who sow dangerous seeds of fear need our prayers. I will pray for the people who created these flyers to gain some understanding when I sing at sun dance ceremony next month. Stand strong and pray hard relatives!

Honor your Mom

My Mother was my best friend. She was a devout Catholic girl from the boarding school era who never, ever complained about being abused. She attributed her experience in boarding school as one that helped her achieve an admirable level of self-control. I believed everything my Mother told me.


She played basketball and was a cheerleader while in high school. She once told me her high school nickname was Creep because she had the ability to just creep away when in a group of friends who found themselves in trouble with the priests or nuns. She never got caught.


She graduated from St. Francis Mission High School and earned a college degree. I was very proud of her when she received her college degree. My Mother always encouraged me to continue my education.


When my siblings and I were small children, our Mother would take us shopping and spend her entire paycheck on new clothes for school. I remember her washing our clothes in one of those wringer washers and hanging them on the clothesline.


Each school day she would lay out our clean clothes for us. We lived in the country so she would drive us to and from school every day so we didn’t have to walk. She always made sure we had enough food to eat. My Mother made sure we had the things we needed. My Mother loved my siblings and me.


I remember one Halloween when she made our costumes all by hand. My sister and I were dressed like hobos; we even had those little sticks with the sack of hobo stuff dangling from the end slung over our shoulders. She spent a lot of time sewing patches on some old clothes we had. I was very small but I remember we won a prize at the costume contest.


My Mother always put her children first in her life. She always acted in our best interest. If we needed something she would find some way to get it. She encouraged me in all my endeavors. No matter what I wanted to do, my Mother allowed me the freedom to live my own life and make my own mistakes. I am the person I am today because of everything my Mother taught me. She was an excellent role-model.


My Mother had a great sense of humor. She confided a lot about her life to me. She always gave me good advice. When I was a teenager she was very supportive of me. She came to all the school activities I participated in. Sometimes I thought she was a bigger fan of the basketball team than I was! She always glowed with pleasure when people asked us if we were sisters.


Next month it will be 22 years since my Mother made her journey to the spirit world. Her passing left a major void in my life. I will always miss her. You do not know what it is like to be without your Mother until she is gone.


Take the time to call your Mother on Mother’s Day. If you live within driving distance, please go see her in person. Give her a hug and tell her you love her. Fix her lunch or take her out to eat. Buy her flowers. Tell her you appreciate everything that she has done for you.


If you and your Mother are not on speaking terms, find it in your heart to mend whatever rift is between you. She made the choice to bring you into this world. Honor her for your life!

Special Rapporteur visits Rosebud Indian Reservation

By Vi Waln

MISSION, SD – James Anaya, an expert appointed by the United Nations, met with several tribal leaders and community members here last week. The visit to Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Indian Reservation was part of a fact gathering mission regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples in the United States. Special Rapporteur Anaya also held meetings in Washington, DC, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona and Washington State.

The two-day session was moderated by Bill Means of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). The Special Rapporteur came to South Dakota “to discuss issues of human rights, human rights are something we are born with,” Means told the gathering.

Special Rapporteur Anaya referred to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the purpose of his work. “I am here to listen to people as a part of a report on the conditions of Indigenous people. I do not receive instructions; I am looking for the truth as you tell it to me.”

Speakers were limited to 10 minutes and were encouraged to summarize any written statements submitted to Special Rapporteur Anaya. There was no limit to the number of pages which could be submitted as written testimony. Several people who did not speak attended the session to submit their written testimony. A letter signed by Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Rodney Bordeaux, SGU President Lionel Bordeaux, Jess Taken Alive, Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Chief Oliver Red Cloud and Chief Keith Horse Looking was also submitted.

“We are subject to continual terror since the 1851 treaty,” stated Faith Spotted Eagle, an Ihanktonwan tribal member from the Yankton Sioux Reservation. “As recent as 2010, the United States (US) tried to violate our rights with an action to disestablish us [as a reservation] in the Supreme Court. Consultations are tainted and diluted.”

“The treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is based on how American Indians were treated,” stated Oglala Lakota Russell Means. “The US secretly maintains they are in a state of war with us. We want them to recognize the 1851 and 1868 treaties as valid international documents. We are not confronting the US or trying to embarrass them, we just want our treaties recognized. The perpetual war they have against us is the same as Israeli treatment of Palestinians.”

“We were psychologically traumatized at boarding school, I cried for days after they cut my braids,” stated Cheyenne River elder Marcella Lebeau. “We worked four hours a day and went to school four hours a day. This got us a fourth grade education instead of an eighth grade education like we were supposed to get.”

“In 1924 my mother became a US citizen and got a force patent on her land so then she had to pay tax on the land,” Lebeau continued. “She lost her land because she was unemployed [and couldn’t pay the taxes]. The 1947 Pick-Sloan Act took our land along the Missouri River. They took our land and the landowners were never paid just compensation.”

“Treaties without an expiration date are to be in effect until everyone agrees that they are no longer in effect,” Charmaine White Face said. “We are totally surrounded and occupied by the United States of America. Full enforcement of the treaty of 1868 – this is the message we want you to give to the United Nations Council.”

“The US allowed and allows, supported and supports corporate encroachment onto our Homelands to get at the gold in our sacred Black Hills,” stated Debra White Plume. “There are uranium, oil, and gas corporations here now, and more want to come. We did not invite them. America welcomes Canadian-owned Cameco uranium corporation, TransCanada oil pipeline corporation, and PowerTech uranium corporation to come and obtain permits to mine uranium and slurry oil in our Territory against our wishes, this extraction and pipeline threatens our Ogallala Aquifer, which gives 2 million people drinking water and irrigates the world’s bread basket.”

“We have not given our free, prior and informed consent as required by the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, we know not everyone is satisfied with the Declaration, but it is a minimum standards document. Federal Indian policy lumps all Native Americans together and calls us American Indians,” she continued. “In 1890 a Gatlin gun was used to murder over 300 Lakota people 7 miles from where I live. Federal Indian policy is the new Gatlin gun.”

“We are being denied our collective rights to land,” Darlene Pipe Boy stated. “The Cobell case is a manipulation of poverty.”

There is also “white retaliation of Native educators,” said Dr. Edward Valandra. “The institutional processes [are used] to eliminate Native educators, we pursue these advanced degrees to be of service to our people. Still, Native professors in universities are the most persecuted. This is an example of structural violence.”

Lakota LaPlante-Ruvalcaba spoke of a grandchild who was removed from her home by the Department of Social Services. “South Dakota is the Mississippi of the North when it comes to the treatment of our people. Native children [removed from their homes] are losing touch with family and culture.”

Chief Oliver Red Cloud offered a statement in the Lakota language. His address was translated in part by Alex White Plume. “I do not raise my hand under the US Constitution, I am under natural law. The US has never honored their word; they are ruining our Earth to make money. The IRA governments are a failure. If you do not speak your language or know your culture it’s an impact of genocide.”

“Last month we had a roadblock, two overweight trucks came into our sovereign territory without permission,” stated Tom Poor Bear who is Vice-President of the Oglala Lakota Nation. “In a conference call with the Governor of South Dakota, I stated that we have laws against these overweight vehicles. Governor Daugaard said our tribal, traditions, treaties, laws and ordinances meant nothing to him.”

Dr. Denise Lajimodiere, Charon Asetoyer, Michelle Tyon, Manny Iron Hawk, Wayne Wasicun, Darrell Drapeau, Dr. John Hart, Keith Horse Looking, Lionel Bordeaux, Alyssa Macy, Oliver Semans, Mike Wiggins Jr., Roger Milk, Sheryl Lightfoot, Alex White Plume, Jess Taken Alive, Dave Archambault and Lisa Shaw also offered testimony on a variety of issues. Paula Antoine read a written statement submitted by Chief Arvol Looking Horse.

Professor Anaya stated he would prepare an “assessment of conditions and make recommendations for a report which will be made public, the report will be presented in September 2012 to the United Nations Council in Geneva, Switzerland.”

He was also honored with several gifts, such as a star quilt and a Pendleton blanket along with other tokens of appreciation. “I feel stronger; your testimony means much to me as I go forward. I see you have very strong warriors,” he said. “I will give voice to what I’ve been hearing.”

He was also made a relative to the Lakota people with a Hunka ceremony and a Lakota name bestowed by Chief Red Cloud. Wanbli Wawokiye Wica or Eagle Helper was chosen as his name because of his work in many different parts of the continent. Prayers were offered by Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Chief Keith Horse Looking, Marty Makes Room and Chaz Blue Thunder.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of his visit, Anaya said “I also heard many stories about the significance of places that are sacred to indigenous peoples, places like the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona and the Black Hills in South Dakota, which hold profound religious and cultural significance to tribes. During my visit, indigenous peoples reported to me that they have too little control over what happens in these places, and that activities carried out around them at times affront their values and beliefs.”

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007. The document outlines a framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being, and rights of indigenous peoples around the world. The document was officially endorsed by the US in December 2010.

Violence Against Women Act coming to the House Floor this week

Violence on our rez is at an all-time high. Gang fights, domestic violence, child abuse, aggravated assaults and sexual assaults are commonplace in our homelands. Many tribal members seem to just accept the fact that violence will always be a part of living on the rez. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our children deserve better.


I’ve see graphic pictures of battered women and children on the internet. It is one thing to see online photos and quite another to see it in real life. I have seen women walking around with black eyes and swollen faces which are obviously the result of a severe beating. Many of our women have had their teeth knocked out by a domestic partner, boyfriend or husband. There are women and children who have died from injuries inflicted upon them by a man.


Even after the wounds of a beating have healed, people who have survived these attacks will still carry the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual scars resulting from abuse. Some of our people were abused as small children and they carry the physical scars of that abuse into adulthood. Abused children often grow up to be violent adults. Others have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the attacks they suffered at the hands of someone who once professed to love them.


Our small children are now witness to an enormous amount of violence. They are also victims. Some children have even lost their young lives because of the choices made by adults. Children often have front row seats to gang fights, assaults on a parent or grandparent, alcohol related car crashes and community vandalism. Some incidents witnessed as a child are forever burned into our memory. Many of us will remember a violent incident we witnessed as a child. You might have PTSD and not even know it.


Nowadays, our young children grow up as primary witnesses to the violent acts taking place on a regular basis in their homes and communities. This week the politicians in Washington, DC will vote on whether or not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). There are some powerful elected national leaders, who are charged with making the decisions affecting the lives of our children, against portions of this crucial legislation.


VAWA contains language which specifically offers protection to Native American women, immigrants and members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. Apparently, some Senators and Congressmen/women are totally against extending protection to some of the most abused human beings in this country.


I did not vote for Senator John Thune, nor did I vote for Congresswoman Kristi Noem. They are Republicans from South Dakota who both oppose the VAWA as it is currently written. This state has many residents who are Native American women, immigrants or members of the LGBT community. To oppose legislation written to protect me as a Lakota Winyan from excessive violence is akin to standing against my basic human right to live in a peaceful environment without fearing for my life.


While browsing the World Wide Web over the weekend, I found a blog site owned by Jayson Brave Heart. He is one of my Facebook friends and an Oglala Lakota who grew up on the Pine Ridge Rez. He gave me permission to include parts of a piece he wrote.


Brave Heart’s words summarize the feelings many of us have regarding South Dakota’s Republican Representatives and their mission to dismantle crucial provisions of the VAWA:


“Dear white men: Move to an Indian reservation today, get an Indian girlfriend, and beat her all you want!” This is what Congresswoman Noem and her Republican lackeys want you to know. I was raised that you never hit a woman, period. As an Indian man, I was taught this was the Lakota way and the Christian way. But I guess my parents and the bible were wrong. Of all American women, Indian women need the most protection. 1 out of every 3 Native women will be raped, 39% will be victims of domestic violence. Kristi Noem thinks this is ok, but I am pretty sure rape and domestic violence are not very Christian. South Dakota’s Congresswoman Noem (R) and the House Republicans are trying to strip the protections for Native women from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) this Tuesday in Congress. [On] Some Indian reservations, up to 70% of the population are non-Native. We live in a modern society with lots of interracial dating and marriage. Arcane, outdated, federal law leaves white men who live on Indian reservations, who date and marry Native women, free to beat them. Federal law has tied Native American Tribes hands behind their back, unable to protect their most precious and sacred asset, our own women. The Indian provisions in VAWA would fix this loophole and recognize Tribes’ concurrent jurisdiction with the federal government to prosecute any man who beats an Indian woman, regardless of his race. VAWA would fix this loophole. Congresswomen Noem wants this stopped! White men should be free to beat their own Indian woman! As an Indian guy, if I come to your town and beat one of your white women, I go to jail. If one of you white guys comes to my reservation and beats one of our Indian women, you get to make a joke about it in Facebook and a free beer.”


Women and families everywhere are in need of more protection against their violent partners. When a man assaults a woman he should be charged with a crime and put in jail so he can think about what he did. Jurisdiction should not matter. We can’t even get Native American men jailed for assaults against women and children so I am not sure why the powerful politicians in Washington, DC think we are going to lock up hundreds of non-Indians.


Call Kristi Noem at (202) 225-2801 and tell her to vote for the VAWA as it is written.

Sometimes we only get one chance

Last week I attended the meeting with the United Nations Special Rapporteur Dr. James Anaya. He came to Lakota Territory to listen to our people speak out about the rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was the first time I ever heard of the United Nations sending a representative to listen to our concerns. It was an historical event.

Dr. Anaya listened to about eight hours of testimony which stretched over two days. The tribal people who spoke up for all of us are some of the most influential people in Lakota Country. It was a very educational experience. Still, I was kind of disappointed because I believed there could have been more local people in attendance.

In the past, I have listened to many tribal members talk about how their rights are violated. Many people have visited with me about concerns they have with tribal, state or federal agencies. I hardly saw any of these concerned people at the meeting with the Special Rapporteur last week.

I was glad to see Rosebud’s Tribal President and Pine Ridge’s Vice-President attend and speak at this meeting. But I only saw one Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council member attend for a short period of time. You would think that all of our elected leaders from all nine reservations in this state would have taken an interest. After all, it isn’t every day that the United Nations sends a delegation to listen to our concerns. I guess they had different priorities and chose not to attend the meeting.

This event was one way to have our issues and concerns receive world-wide attention. Some of you missed a very important opportunity to voice your issues. Our elected leaders would do well to pay closer attention to important events happening within their own homelands.

oh em gee…I have a blog site!

Hello Relatives and Friends!

This is the first time I have ever created and posted on a personal blog. I hope to share my scribblings here with all of you and provide other information which I believe you might be interested in. As human beings we are forever growing and changing. It is called evolution. Oftentimes our life path leads us in different directions. I believe I am entering a new phase in my life as a writer and I hope to keep you updated through this site.

I welcome all comments but please know I will not tolerate personal attacks here. As the owner of this blog it is my privilege to delete inappropriate posts and/or comments. Keep it clean folks and maybe we can learn together.

Visit my new Facebook page at Sicangu Lakota Times where I plan to post photos and public documents.

Follow me on Twitter @wicaglata where I post links to articles which interest me.

As my tagline states, please do not mistake my honesty for disrespect. I appreciate your visits here and thank you for reading my thoughts.