A sign on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Orientalizing

Ivan Star Comes Out: A glimpse of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Native Sun News Today Columnist

What do our non-Lakota neighbors know about life here on the Pine Ridge? I do know most of their “Indian” knowledge base is horribly clichéd. Hollywood inspired much of their erroneous and condescending views of natives and is reinforced constantly. Living just miles apart, a very few have tried to bridge that chasm of misinterpretation and hatred.

I was stunned to learn that many non-natives still think all the “Indians” were wiped out in a great and honorable “Indian War.” This so-called “war” was planned by government agents, prospectors, and settlers to facilitate their Manifest Destiny doctrine, or more specifically, to satisfy their greed for gold and to acquire more land without having to pay for it. Natives were forced to defend themselves.

Today, there are non-natives who cannot bring themselves around to accept the fact that the Black Hills were actually stolen by their new government. The historic fact that the new nation dishonored every single treaty (300-plus) made with “Indian” nations is literally unknown. I wonder how many still believe this reservation was given to us by their congress as a result of their benevolence.

Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

Many don’t know that natives served honorably in their “good wars” (WWs I & II) or that our native languages helped to decide the outcomes of those wars. Also, many still believe “Indians” are natural born killers, fearless, and impervious to pain. Many still think every “Indian” today is given a free monthly “government check.” This list is long, so I’ll stop here.

I as a native have been trying to “fit into” the new non-Lakota society. However, these erroneous, unfounded, and negative perceptions have continuously deterred me from interacting positively with natives. Accordingly, “Indians” are “vermin” or “scum of the earth,” meaning we are unwanted because we are the worst type of people imaginable.

As a result, natives continually cope with these unconfirmed xenophobic experiences as they go about trying to participate in the “American Dream.” A typical example occurred at a hockey game when intoxicated non-natives taunted a group of native school children with “go back to the reservation,” and then spilled beer on them and challenged their chaperones to a physical fight.

With the idea of opening up some form of communication, which is a total “shot in the dark” by any standard, I decided to publicize a tiny portion of my personal life here on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Having resided here most of my life, I am inclined to improve it for the benefit of my children and grandchildren.

I am saddened by the fact that many Lakota people abandoned their home land for “greener pastures” in the “big city.” I too tried to get away from the poverty and misery of my homeland by moving to Los Angeles and St. Paul. It simply was not home. My home is where my ancestors lived and are buried.


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Read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: A glimpse of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com.

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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