Custer Park Stays - South Dakota Government Turns Back on Native Americans
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, meeting face to face with Indian leaders, had no answers he was willing to offer covering Indian issues.
South Dakota government senior republicans again refuse to allow a bill before them calling for the name change of Custer state park to Crazy Horse state park. Requests to bring about a bill calling for Indian tribal history to be taught in all state public schools fell on deaf ears including those of Governor Mike Rounds. Senate Bill 125 was introduced to rename Lake Henry Dam to Dawson Creek Dam.
Our trip to the South Dakota state capital was a must! Presenting Indian issues face-to-face with politicians that you know are counting the seconds until they can get away from you is an eye opener. Governor Mike Rounds, speaking before a large Native American group, was like a deer caught in headlights. He basically said, "Look at all the Indians here at the capital. It takes time for change to come about." then he left quickly. It must have been a flashback to Custer's last day for him.
January 18th was Native America Day at the state capital, a day set up to present Indian issues to state legislators. This year's event was headed by First Voices, United Sioux Tribes and was cosponsored by the ACLU of the Dakotas. It was a full day of getting the issues out, meeting new groups and making new alliances. No microphone was allowed for speakers at the event held in the capital rotunda, a result of complaints of noise from law makers last year.
Not to be silenced, in came Representative Van Norman and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Drum group. This brought a complete stop to all capital activities! If you think drums are loud outside, you should hear them inside a marble rotunda! People packed the circular rails two floors up over the drum group. Now I know how Custer must have felt that final day.
After the Native American Day event came to and end, state representatives went back to work. Charles McGuigan, Office of the Attorney General, had problems with the wording of Senate Bill SB.82, which would "provide for the appointment of a Native American Law enforcement officer to the Law Enforcement Office Standards Commission." Changes made to the Bill on page 1, line 11, include deleting the phrase, "… an enrolled member of an Indian tribe…" and inserting "… a member of a law enforcement agency not otherwise represented."
In reviewing all Bills before the 2006 legislators, we see that none of them will bring about any meaningful economic change for South Dakota's Native American population. It's obvious there is no government-to-government relationship between Indian nations and the South Dakota state government. Governor Mike Rounds again failed to do his job for all South Dakotans. Tribal leaders – and the people who support them – need to stop letting this happen year after year! The economic plight of Native Americans in South Dakota is the first responsibility of elected tribal leaders. To do their job they must have the support of the governor and state elected representatives.
It's past time for these governing bodies to come together. It's time to draft "real" economic legislation that would end South Dakota Native Americans from being among the poorest group of people in our nation. Governor Mike Rounds needs to stop turning his back on tribal leaders when they offer ways to bring about economic change.
American Indians are giving notice to tribal and state elected representatives that their vote will count in the coming elections. On February 15, Indian groups and non-Indian supporters will launch their national "Vote Them Out" campaign. A list of elected representatives nationally will be posted on thousands of web sites calling for their removal from office. State and federal representatives with a history of introducing legislation against Indian nation's sovereignty, and Bills hindering tribal nations’ economic advancement will be tagged.
American Indians were outraged last year when the National Governors' Association invited "One Nation United" leader to speak before them. This national group is supported by big corporate companies that want Indian nation governments dissolved. If this came about (and it won't) these companies would have access to millions of acres of Indian land for pennies on the dollar. As it is, these same companies are not willing to do business with tribal nation leaders. This goes to the heart of the poverty issue among Indians in America.
February, 15 will also be the launching date of a "Get out the Indian vote" registration drive across the country. Indian voter registration is going up and up each year. The Indian vote does count and will play a big role in this year's election campaign as to who is elected and who is voted out of office. American Indians are taking it one more step; they will support Indian candidates running for state and federal office. This past year a national Indian group "Indnslist" opened its office in Tulsa Oklahoma for the sole purpose of electing Indian candidates to office. Check out their website: http://www.indnslist.org/default.htm
Native American Pat Poland of Texas has announced her bid for state representative of district 16. Pat was the appointed Delegate to the Texas Democratic Convention and State Delegate-Senate District 3-National Convention 2000 as one of the two State delegates for Texas Native Americans for State and National Conventions in 2000. In 1999, she was elected to serve as precinct 44 Chairperson by write-in on the ballot. She campaigned and won. She has served in the position ever since.
The political front in America is changing; the two dominant political parties - Democrats and Republicans - may soon have to deal with the "First American Party." Now there's an idea whose time has come!
Mike Graham, Member Oklahoma Cherokee Nation
Founder United Native America www.UnitedNativeAmerica.com
Mike Graham is a citizen of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, a retired service connected disabled Army veteran. Founded United Native America in 1993 to form a national group to take action on American Indian issues. The groups main issue is to bring about a federal national holiday for Native Americans. United Native America's motto is, "Standing up for America and the American Indian community."
Graham has been a guest speaker on national and international radio talk shows to include television programs concerning Indian community issues, his reports on Indian issues have been published in newspapers all over America. He has traveled across the country discussing issues with Indian nation leaders, he has presented Indian issues at college's and high schools.