Indianz.Com > News > Ivan Star Comes Out: Democratic principles are truly indigenous
Pine Ridge Reservation
A thunderstorm is seen over Badlands National Park, a portion of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that was taken by the federal government. Photo by Juliana Clifford /
Pine Ridge Reservation, where only one third vote in tribal elections
Monday, July 18, 2022
Native Sun News Today Columnist

Those government and parochial school history, civics, and government classes have deeply and negatively influenced today’s reservation residents.

Back then we were told that democracy was born in ancient Greece and Rome. There may be a tiny bit of truth to that, but the colonists told us they invented democracy here in a “new” land where there was “nothing but wilderness.”

As a result, many Lakota believe democracy is strictly a “white man” thing and steer clear of it. The real stinker here is the colonist’s lack of truth about modern democracy’s origin. The sooner we realize the fact that the colonists found democracy here on the continent, with the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), known as the Iroquois Confederacy, the sooner we can progress and enjoy freedom.

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

In other words, democratic principles are indigenous. The “Founding Fathers” discovered democratic principles in the Iroquois’ Great Law of Peace and took them, and they’ve been taking everything since. This system, whose origins date back to the 1200s, formed a government that unified five sovereign nations in the 1400s, six in 1722. This is what the colonists found upon their arrival.

The colonist’s biggest drawback is their inability to understand the concept of equality, with reference to individual status, property, rights, and opportunity. Thus, the U. S. Constitution was written for colonists only and ratified in 1788. Actually, they are still struggling with equality. Many believe they are a “superior race.”

Three years later, the racist nature of that constitution was addressed. However, the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments), ratified in 1791, was made for colonists only. Other amendments were made from 1795. Slavery was abolished in 1865. More amendments were made from 1868 to 1972. Thus, transforming the constitution from its discriminatory beginnings to the more egalitarian document we know today. It is a work in progress.

In view of all this, here is a truly interesting situation. An ideal democratic constitutional government must involve respecting the rights of the minority and checked governmental powers. We have neither of these here on the Pine Ridge, one of five “Indian” reservations in western South Dakota that operate under a “constitution” that was written for them by the federal government.

A true democracy is founded on a system in which the citizens have equal participation in government and is divided into two separate levels, states and national. Pine Ridge has two levels also, the tribal council and nine outlying districts.

However, this “constitution” grants the centralized council unrestricted power and authority on the reservation while the nine districts are granted laughable powers (Article VI, Oglala Sioux Tribe Constitution).


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