Trahant spotlights JR LaPlante

Mark Trahant is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Nation and has been writing about American Indians running for political office.
What do I mean? Candidates who have experience, drive, ideas, and own the tools needed to win. JR LaPlante is a great example. He’s running for the South Dakota Legislature as a Democrat. He’s an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He’s an attorney and his current job is director of Tribal Relations for Avera Health where he coordinates a number of health initiatives. LaPlante’s public policy resume is deep. He has worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Equal Justice Works, an AmeriCorps Legal Fellow with South Dakota Access to Justice, and was in the first group of scholars with Bush Foundation’s Native Nation Rebuilders program. [Trahant, Indian Country Today Media]
Before she left the failing Rapid City Journal Mary Garrigan wrote an excellent piece on the appointment of Leroy "JR" LaPlante as secretary of the newly created South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations that suggested that maybe people are getting more serious about healing the scars of hate. That Mr. LaPlante is a christian who submitted to an autocratic GOP/wasicu administration made his choice highly suspicious.
Rosebud Sicangu Lakota elder and spiritual leader Albert White Hat spoke about the responsibilities and burdens that his nephew would face in his new job. "A lot of us still don't trust the state. Some of us have scars that we'll take to our grave," White Hat said, before praying over his nephew with an eagle feather to ask the Eagle Nation to assist him. The Bad Nation Singers, a drum group from the Crow Creek Reservation, offered Lakota flag and honor songs to the Great Spirit during the ceremony. A history of broken promises and the historic underfunding of treaty obligations is part of the challenge of his new job, LaPlante knows, but he echoes the governor in saying he wants to see new collaborations and fresh ideas in state-tribal relations. "We are mutually tied to the land and citizens of South Dakota, both Indian and non-Indian," he said. [Garrigan, Rapid City Journal]
In 2011 LaPlante appeared with Stephanie Rissler on Bill Janklow's idea of public teevee.

LaPlante, the inaugural Secretary of Tribal Relations, left that post under the current Republican governor to take a job as a prosecutor for former Democratic US Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan Johnson.

If he wins LaPlante represents a tiny glimmer of hope for the struggling South Dakota Democratic Party.

With the success of renaming South Dakota's highest geographical point American Indians have the opportunity to begin influencing policy in the chemical toilet.

Of course, the South Dakota Democratic Party should urge President Obama to pay the tribes, dissolve the Black Hills National Forest, move management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior; and, in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

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