Do Not Expect Us To Run And Hide
As a journalist I have only been threatened with a lawsuit twice. Both times it was by the same entity who chose to pass the word along to me through unofficial channels. The choice to deliver the message in this way was calculated and conniving.
Ironically, threats like these never originate from our own people. They come from outsiders who have come to our homelands to save us from ourselves. The most recent incident that resulted in talk of a lawsuit included a veiled threat directed at an employee who spoke with me about a grievance they had with a non-citizen supervisor. (Of course there are laws that demand that our people be given preference in hiring, but again many of these institutions believe they are above our laws.) The employee was completely wronged in this instance. The supervisor lacked any significant understanding of how closely knit our community is, nor did they understand the implicit value of placing our people in positions of influence. The employee was singled out and bullied by the administrator who had the full backing of her superiors. When I began looking into the incident, LCT was not even afforded the courtesy of a phone call or email back from the institution. What is even more troubling was the employee was pulled aside and told, “We have already contacted our legal team, and this could come back on you.” Our people have the right to speak out when they feel it is necessary. This is the Oglala Lakota Nation and our voices cannot and will not be silenced. We are a “Band of Wild Oglala” and there should never be any doubt that we will protect our own.
What amazes me about the arrogance of these institutions is that they expect the tribal court to assist in muzzling the voice of the people in order to protect their interests. The people will not stand for this. Our tribal council will not stand for this. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Court will not stand for this. The only other option would be for the institution to completely undermine the integrity of our entire system of governance by skipping proceedings at the tribal level.
As an editor I want the people to understand that the local media is here to assist them in telling their stories when needed. We are also here to help protect the rights we all possess as citizens of the sovereign and independent Oglala- Lakota Nation.
The Oglala have never cowered when confronting the perceived power of non- Native institutions. Do not expect us to run and hide from the very same threats that have been hurled at us for generations.
*Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.