Regina Brave: Let's learn to forgive ourselves for our pettiness

The following is the opinion of Regina Brave. All content © Native Sun News.

The flag of the Oglala Sioux Tribe
The flag of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Learn to forgive ourselves for our pettiness
By Regina Brave

There were five attempted suicides on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- two young people were buried. What is it going to take to stop the bullying? What will it take to stop the suicides? Is there anyone out there who cares about the crises which is affecting the Pine Ridge? Apparently some Oyate do and are conducting meetings to address this “epidemic."

The OST court system doesn’t seem to be working. Aren’t background checks supposed to be made on all applicants who include court judges, court administrators and directors of the various programs? Does each applicant have the required documents attached?

A Juris Doctorate should be framed and hung in the Attorney General’s office and in Administrators' and Directors’ offices, “proclaiming” them as “fit” to run the various courts. Officers should have training in criminal justice, have read and are knowledgeable of the Law & Order Code, Judicial Code, Juvenile Code, OST Child Protection Code and National Indian Child Welfare Act.

When a body is found, officers should protect it as a possible crime scene until an autopsy is performed to determine cause of death. It doesn’t work like that on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Then, do the Powers-That-Be “appoint” whomever to an existing court judge vacancy, possibly, to control the outcome of certain cases pending? I’m not making this up. We should be asking about the requirements of the staff also; does the clerk actually know how to stamp incoming court documents, create a case file by number and put the name of person on an index card? I think not.

It would be so much easier if a real clerk worked there: For judges, prosecutors and advocates to ask for and be handed copies from a case file rather than have people running from one office to another to track paperwork. Our Oglala Sioux Tribal court can be viewed as being totally dysfunctional. I do.

It doesn’t help when a judge doesn’t know his/her front end from his/her back end and they supposedly have degrees? I should hope the Oyate would understand that these words and opinions are my own and I don’t submit rumors for publication. It’s up to the Oyate: We who vote, we who believe our voices count for something and raise questions on the qualifications of all Administrators.

On the bullying issue: We’ve had two meetings in Oglala/White Clay district. The next step is to actuate an Ordinance, I hope. Our Council representatives weren’t in attendance at either meeting. One couldn’t attend because he ended up in the hospital. We can’t place the blame on anyone. What needs to be done is for each of us to do some soul searching.

Many of us carry our grudges and prejudices as a second skin. We’ve carried them around even though we’ve forgotten why. Some grudges may even be from eons ago. It’s time to bag up our smelly garbage. If we don’t want to part with them, let’s leave them under our pillows when we’re going to the next meeting.

Someday we may even remember to forgive ourselves for our pettiness. Learn from the children, watch and listen. They play, they argue and next they’re fighting or calling each other names as they walk away. Next day is a new day, they’re playing together. What happened yesterday belonged in their past.

We’re born with two gifts: Will power and choice. Exercise them. Wotehila (to cherish/”love”) is a given. Learn to say “Tecihila”, Lakota for “I cherish you.” Addressing the issue of bullying, Oyate have a better understanding of what it means. We’ve looked back and found that many of us can recall incidents of bullying in our lives. It’s not a new thing.

There is no law addressing Child-vs.-Child (Bully-vs.-Victim). Nothing was said about boundaries or creating boundaries or rules of behavior. Our Spirituality is the basis of our existence. Maybe we’ve taken our traditional values for granted or chose to ignore our values.

Planning sessions were held in both Oglala and Pine Ridge, the idea of peer counseling came up. Their council reps were in attendance. At Pine Ridge, Will Peters drew three circles. The center was the children, the next represented the women, mothers and grandmothers, the outer circle represented the men. A Nation protecting their future. Then he began erasing gaps in several places with jagged lines leading to the center. He explained that all the negative learned behaviors are infecting, affecting and destroying our people. Now it’s our children destroying themselves.

We allowed all the ills: Alcohol, drugs, spouse abuse, neglect…We forgot our traditions, our spirituality, our identity. We forgot our responsibility to our future generation. The lines and circles of protection had been broken by us. It matters not when and where it started from, it matters that we find ourselves.

Chris Eagle Hawk verbally drew a circle. We’re so busy fighting one another which affected the circle to a point where it is our children and grandchildren who are now on the outside looking at the chaos we created. Who is left to protect them?

Nationally Pine Ridge Reservation is viewed as the “poorest county” in the United States. From my understanding, we’re number1! Let’s look at the opposite side: Yes! We are number 1! (a) Many of us have our own homes; (b) 64% or two-thirds of our land owners didn’t go for the Land Buy-back Program. We were offered thousands of tax-free dollars, we said “NO." (c) We’re not breathing fumes 24/7; (d) We don’t have intersecting freeways clogging up four/five or six lanes as commuters are rushing to and from their treadmills burning up natural resources at an alarming pace daily to pay their taxes, their twice/thrice mortgaged homes, etc, etc. (e) Breathe that beautiful clean air! We don’t have polluted air. (f) We’re surrounded by wide open spaces and a beautiful land base. Who else can say this except people who are native to this land?

The Land Buy-back Program is being re-introduced in case some of the 64% have a change of heart. What is really being planned? REDA, Resource Energy Development Act was passed in 2004, if amended; authorization for energy development would be given to Tribal Councils to make decisions without public (our) input. Our tribal lands developed for natural resources? The Land Buy-back may possibly be a motive.

Ordinance 13-21 has never been rescinded. If the Tribal “National” Park Bill passes, we may be looking at the destruction of the Badlands. The U.S. Park Service will be in total control and U.S. Forestry Service, well-known for leasing lands within Treaty territory is waiting on the sidelines. Contrary to what the “Powers” who created chaos might have believed, our people will never benefit.

In 2012, 150 families moved into the welcoming open arms of the residents of Galveston. For what? Who and what country controls the Keystone XL Pipeline? Will there be permanent jobs for people if the pipeline reaches Texas? Of course, they’ve been welcomed in Galveston and are waiting! Also keep in mind, this country owes trillions of dollars to China. Does the general public care? Of course not. They who have created the overpopulation, destruction and pollution are busy staying two steps ahead of foreclosure have no clue. They’ve forgotten their own history and the stock market crash of 1939.

We are wealthy beyond measure and it has not a thing to do with money. Think about it.

I wish a happy belated birthday to all my fellow Aquarians.

(Regina Brave can be reached at P.O. Box 512 Oglala, S. D. 57764)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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