2017-12-28 / Voices

Threat Of Government Leaving “Indian Business” Always Present


Like most years, 2017, has had its up and downs. Like all years, us Lakota are still here.

We have endured everything from blatant genocide to the emergence of a right-wing nut case in the White House.

One of the first lessons I learned about Indian Country is that in the eyes of the federal government the evolution of tribal-sovereignty is cyclical. During some years, the federal government takes progressive positions, and accurately interprets the status of indigenous governments as nations. While, at times like this, we have administrations that completely ignore the historical context under which our people have evolved.

What our people have failed to realize is that this process is not tied to a political party. Recent experiences may have made it seem that the republicans have always been opposed to the advancement of our people, but history shows us that the republicans of the early ‘70’s were responsible for the creation (with the aid of Oglala visionaries) of the American Indian Self-Determination Act. This piece of legislation was supported by republicans in the Congress and in the White House.

Today, it would be very hard for any of our people to throw support behind a party that has systematically targeted the minorities and the poor over the last several years. Maybe this will change over the next decade, but who knows to what extent the far-right is willing to push their agenda now that they have control of all three branches of government.

The threat of the government getting out of the “Indian business” has always been present. The questions remaining is, are tribal-nations prepared for the day that this threat may actually turn in to action?

As I have observed our communities we have made significant advances in reintroducing the use of Lakota language back in to the mainstream. The normalization of its use is continuing to expand everyday and it seems that the efforts of our educators are making a difference. Perhaps, this change will usher in a new era of advancement for our people. That is ultimately the goal.

One positive development that I have noticed is that many of our local entrepreneurs are turning their dreams in to realities. I cant help but think of people like Sam O’Rourke and Jon Decker Jr. who have recently established businesses that are now taking off. It is people like them, my father, Sis Patton, and many others who have inspired me to do the same.

My belief is that the federal government should be forced to uphold their end of the trust-agreement and the promises they made through treaties. I also believe that our best way to protect ourselves from the government abandoning their obligations is to build a better economy on the reservation.

While we need to hold our lawmakers accountable, it is important to prepare for a day when they exit our nations for good.

*Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Oglala Lakota Nation. He earned his education at Dartmouth College and founded Bad Face Consulting in 2016.

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