Brandon Ecoffey: The Lakota people have never surrendered

The following is the opinion of Brandon Ecoffey, Lakota Country Times Editor. For more news and opinion, subscribe to the Lakota Country Times today. All content © Lakota Country Times.

Brandon Ecoffey

A Note from the editor’s desk
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

I often hear the term “victim mentality” thrown around when talking about those living on the reservation. There is a notion that our people have grown completely dependent on federal funding and that our nations are nothing more than welfare states. From the outside looking in, that may be how it looks, but in reality it could not be farther from the truth.

The struggle facing our people is that we are battling hundreds of years of colonial policy designed to eliminate us. We have endured the maximal effort of the most powerful nation the earth has ever known to extinguish us, yet, we exist.

The mere existence of our people is a form of resistance. Some of our people find themselves in a place where their socio-economic condition has allowed for them to only exist but they are still here. This resistance goes much further than simply existing for many of our people are fully engaged in a battle to create a sustainable future for future generations.

Our tribal leaders fight our battles on many fronts as you can see in this week’s paper. Our young people are engaging in their own battles to save the lives of their family and friends from the grips of depression and suicide as the story on James Pine and his running camps demonstrate. And many of our young people like David Michaud are achieving their dreams and showing our youth that that focus and hard work can take them to new heights.

This isn’t a culture of victims. This is a culture of warriors who are engaging in daily battles to overcome hundreds of years of government policy.

The stories of individual Lakota people waking up each and everyday to do their part to help the people is inspiring. Almost daily I see one of my spiritual brothers posting on Facebook expressing how good it felt to go outside and sing the appropriate song to welcome the morning. I hear healthcare providers talking about how long their hours are and how severely under-funded Indian Health Service is but they still manage to make due with what they have because that is how they are helping the people. The same scenario applies to our law enforcement officers who are tasked with performing the job of a police force 4-5 times their size but they too step up and do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Despite what people are led to believe the Lakota have not surrendered. We are not laying down and waiting for the government to slowly bleed us to death as they cut funding for much needed programs slightly each year. Instead, we are all finding our own way of contributing to the battle to save our children and our Nations. We may not always agree on each other's methods but we do agree on the cause.

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Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of Lakota Country Times and an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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