A year into South Dakota Statehood, the United States Army massacred hundreds
of children, women and men in the southwest part of the state.
Do you remember it
being taught? It was not until college that this student learned
it represented the most heinous event in South Dakota history
At daybreak on December 29, 1890, Col. Forsyth ordered the surrender of weapons and the immediate removal and transportation of the Indians from the "zone of military operations" to awaiting trains. Specific details of what triggered the fight are debated. According to some accounts, a medicine man named Yellow Bird began to perform the Ghost Dance, reiterating his assertion to the Lakota that the ghost shirts were bulletproof. As tension mounted, Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle; he was deaf and had not understood the order.
The narrative that follows that passage is too horrifying to appear here.
When Fidel Castro took the reins in Cuba he dissolved the previous constitution with all its treaties, wrote a new manual, and ruled by decree.
That's essentially what happened to tribes
: treaties that served as constitutions for American indigenous were broken and are still being rewritten for political expediency. American Indians are subject to at least four overlapping jurisdictions making tribes the most regulated people in the US without representatives serving in Congress.
Lise Balk King is a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was previously co-publisher and executive editor of The Native Voice newspaper.
She brought readers up to speed at Indian Country Today
on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(UNDRIP) as it turns its focus to the American Genocide :
The most important human rights milestone in our collective history is arguably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was taken up on the heels of the atrocities of World War II at the first session of the UN General Assembly in 1946. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Prof. James Anaya, provides a simple formula: “Use the declaration for engagement with governments, with Congress, with the courts. Tribes need to use it with the outside world and within their communities…to build healthy relationships on all levels.” Now is the time to insist that the standards originally put forth by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be carried out by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Let’s aspire that results won’t be 60 years in the making.
One of the first jobs we kids learned after moving to the farm in the Spring of '64 was picking rock. I was almost ten, sister Lynn was eight. We learned to drive taking turns at the wheel of that old tractor and wagon moving at a half a mile an hour while Dad did most of the real work.
Finding stone hammers was our reward for clearing glacial till from those fields not knowing that they had been left there by the ancestors
of those killed at Wounded Knee. Blood from our oft-smashed fingers is still on some of those rocks.
is author of nine books, Theodore Roosevelt Center scholar at Dickinson State University, Distinguished Scholar of the Humanities at Bismarck State College, a Lewis and Clark
historian and creator of public radio's Thomas Jefferson Hour
. He writes a Sunday column
in the Bismarck Tribune. Here are a few grafs lifted from a past piece:
Welcome to North Dakota, Mr. President. The fact that you intend to do this at all has great historical significance. As you know, sitting presidents don't tend to visit Indian reservations. The last one to do so was President Bill Clinton in 1999 — Wounded Knee and Pine Ridge in South Dakota. And the one before that was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 — the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.
The bloated entourage of the modern Imperial Presidency is hard on any welcoming community, but in view of the sad history of federal troop presence in Indian Country, the sudden arrival of such stern and obsessive federal firepower is likely to create some discomfort and misunderstanding. And all the instantaneous gawking (by national media reps, presidential advisers and the usual presidential camp followers) may upset the people who actually make their lives on the reservation.
But I am especially eager for you to read Thurston Clarke's "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days that Inspired America." It's a day-by-day account of the last three months of Robert Kennedy's life, before he was assassinated in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. It turns out that RFK spent a significant amount of time during that pell mell campaign on Indian reservations — much to the bewilderment and (eventually) rage of his campaign staff.
Just weeks before the crucial California primary, he chose to fly to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where he spent a whole day talking with an Oglala child named Christopher Pretty Boy in the family's modest cabin. His staff members were tearing their hair out, of course, arguing that there was no political gain in spending time with American Indians. But RFK had moral courage and a great passion for justice. Within a year, both Kennedy and Pretty Boy were dead. [Jenkinson, An open letter to President Obama from Indian Country]
Jenkinson's column on his state's 125 year anniversary linked here
reporter for Indian Country, Jodi Rave covered President Clinton
's visit to Pine Ridge in 1999 and the United Nations passage of the Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She followed
lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, keeping Indian Country apprised of the litigation, ratification process, and settlement of the lawsuit bearing her name and is now writing a book about it. Her investigative work
contributed to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act.
After 125 years of genocide and ecocide
in just two states, could a constitutional convention
reconcile and correct crimes against tribes