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2018-02-14 / Editorial

Why are some of our tribal leaders silent when our sovereignty is under attack?


Every time a bell rings a politician takes our things. Every time a bell rings a politician takes our things. Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has made it a point to speak up when he sees something wrong. When Rep. Kristi Noem started her attack upon tribal sovereignty Frazier did not take it lying down. He immediately struck back as a man protecting the independence and sovereignty of his tribe.

It makes some Lakota wonder where in the heck the rest of the tribal leaders are hiding. Where is Scott Weston of the Oglala Sioux Tribe or any other of the elected leaders of the Great Sioux Nation? Cat got their tongues?

Why the silence? Supposed leaders like Weston were elected to office to stand up for the rights of the Oyate of the Pine Ridge Reservation and yet time and again he has remained silent while attacks are made upon the very future of the people he was elected to serve and protect.

Brandon Sazue of Crow Creek has also stepped forward in defense of his people. He also recognizes that the threat to tribal sovereignty is real. Like Frazier he has seen all of the warning signs coming out of Washington and the first step by an elected official, Congresswoman Kristi Noem has been taken and it is only the beginning.

Tribal lands sit on valuable natural resources such as oil and natural gas. Some of the tribes do not want their lands exploited and damaged by efforts to get at and remove those resources and their protection has always been that the resources are located on sovereign lands. As sovereign nations the tribes have the legal right to protect those resources from exploitation, but once that sovereign protection is removed, it opens the floodgates to exploration. Look what happened to the Osage Nation in Oklahoma when oil was discovered there. Look what is happening to the land and the people of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

We, the Oyate, need our leaders to speak up. By remaining silent you are giving the impression that you, as a leader, don’t care. You are, real or not, giving silent approval to those politicians and corporations that would compromise our sovereignty. Perhaps our tribal governments have not always stood up for us and what we call sovereignty is no longer recognizable as such. When the tribes of South Dakota began to sign gaming compacts with the State of South Dakota simply to have casinos, they signed away a good portion of their sovereignty. Roger Jourdain of the Red Lake Band of Ojibway and Wendell Chino of the Mescalero Apache warned every tribe in the Nation that by allowing the states to usurp your sovereignty you are surrendering some of your most basic protections.

But greed won out and the solid advice of these two great Indian leaders was ignored. And now states like South Dakota and New Mexico hold the key to the compacts every Indian tribe in those states must sign in order to build and run a casino on their once sovereign nation. Are we going to allow our leaders to sit silently while another, and even more severe attack on tribal sovereignty begins?

Weston has a Public Relations person that was fired from Native Sun News Today. She has said that she would never send a press release to this newspaper. Who in the world does she represent and why in the world is a tribal leader like Weston denying the public the right to know? Maybe Weston did speak up but how is anyone supposed to know if his comments were suppressed?

Regardless, it is time for the leaders of all nine tribes in South Dakota to unite under one flag. We have lost much too much already and we must stand up and speak out to preserve what little we have left.

(The Editorial Board of Native Sun News Today can be reached at editor@ nativesunnews.today)

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