Brandon Ecoffey: South Dakota governor's comments to Rosebud Sioux Tribe harken back to painful era

Brandon Ecoffey

SD Governor talks down to Rosebud Sioux Tribe
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

“You have many tribal members who have needs here on the reservation. And if Grandma needs housing, or if Grandma’ needs food, or if Grandma needs transportation…Grandma doesn’t need you to spend tribal resources on a park land setting 200 miles away for religious use or for buffalo agricultural use. Grandma needs housing. Grandma needs food. And so…that’s your decision to make…not mine. That’s yours to make. But I don’t support it…for that reason. And that’s the reason I don’t support it.”
– Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R)

The above comments made by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard in regards to his opposition to the sacred site of Pe‘ Sla being transferred into federal trust status are reminiscent of an earlier period in South Dakota history.

At one point the federal government saw fit that all Indigenous people needed to be watched over by agency superintendents. Lakota people were forced to get permission from these agents to do the simplest things like sell land or marry the person they loved. These early years of the reservation era saw many of our young people end up in assimilation-minded boarding schools as our adults fought with each other over rations supplied by the United States government. It was a time when our people were adapting to a new way of life and foreigners were allowed to tell us how to manage our affairs.

That time has past as many of our people are now educated in the ways of the western world. Our traditional ways are now guiding our educated minds and we are coming to the conclusion that the ways in which our ancestors governed our nations are far better suited for us a society.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe on YouTube: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) addresses tribal council meeting April 21, 2016

The governor will try to spin his comments but the real proof is in the pudding as the the official legal document filed by Attorney General Marty Jackley is ripe with ignorant assumptions about Lakota society.

Our traditional ways of governance are based in our beliefs that recognize our roles and duties as citizens of this earth. Our understanding of citizenship is quite different from western society as ours is based in a worldview that recognizes our existence as both human and spiritual beings. Our spiritual side is what ultimately guides us as the temptations of our human instincts tell us to not value the sacred. This traditional perspective has been censored for the last couple of generations as state officials and imposed institutions have attempted to make us forget what is most important to us as Lakota citizens.

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To have Gov. Daugaard walk into the chambers of the sovereign Sicangu Lakota nation and tell them that our spiritual beliefs should come second to anything is unstatesmanlike and an indictment of the ignorance this elected official has of one of South Dakota’s largest constituencies.

In today’s Lakota society we will no longer heed the advice of those who want us to forget where we came from. Our people traveled to Pe‘ Sla long before the establishment of both the South Dakota and the United States. We will continue to travel to that place long after this governor leaves office.

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation )

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