Dakota-Lakota-Nakota People and Justice
The Sioux and Justice
The Dakota-Lakota-Nakota People and Justice
"Oyate kinhan kawitaya au yunkan
tuwela seca k'un hel opa sni yelo.
Nita kola heyape lo."
(When people come to a celebration,
someone is not among them.
Your friends have said so.)
--Memorial Song (Wicat 'a Wokiksuye Olowan); Source: Lakota Mall
The Dakota-Lakota-Nakota people are today spread across Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, Colorado and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They have also historically been known as the Sioux. The Dakota reside predmoninantly in the State of Minnesota and are divided among two Reservations, the Mdewankanton Sioux (based out of holdings located near Shakopee, Minnesota with a smaller number sharing reservation lands with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, near Lake Mille Lacs in North Central Minnesota) and the Lower Sioux holdings located to the Southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area. The Lakota are located predominantly in North and South Dakota and Eastern Montana and they are divided into seven Tribal sub-groups, commonly referred to as the "Seven Council Fires", Sicaŋǧu (or Brulé), Oglala, Itazipco (or Sans Arc), Huŋkpapa, Miniconjou, Sihasapa,and Oóhenuŋpa. The Lakota represent the westernmost of the Siouan peoples. The Nakota, or Assiniboine, are located in North Dakota and represent the smallest, in terms of numbers, of the three Tribal divisions which collectively comrpise the Sioux or Dakota people.
There exists compelling evidence that the Siouan peoples originally inhabited the Lower Mississippi region and, later, migrated to the vicinity of the Ohio Valley. However, in historical times the Dakota were present in what is today the State of Minnesota in the 17th and 18th centuries and were gradually pushed westward by the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) and Cree peoples into the western half of the State of Minnesota and the States of North and South Dakota. They had been a sedentary, agricultural people who, following the adoption of horse culture, took to what has become to be viewed as traditional Plains lifestyles which centered around the hunting of buffalo. The contemporary view of Plains horse culture was in no small manner shaped by the Dakota people. The Dakota had been introduced to the horse by the Cheyenne in the 1730s.
The Lakota recorded their early history via Winter counts (Lakota: waniyetu wowapi). These were glyphic calendars painted on hide. According to Lakota tradition, their history begins circa 900 CE when the mythic White Buffalo Calf Woman presented the Lakota people with the sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.
It was during the 1730s and 40s that the Lakota (The Seven Council Fires) split into two major tribal branches, the Saône and the Oglala-Sicangu. In 1765 a Saone band under Chief Standing Bear came upon the Black Hills, known as the Paha Sapa by the Lakota, and it was here that they made their home. First official contact with the United States Government occurred during the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1804-06, and resulted in a stand-off with government representatives. The founding of Fort Laramie on Lakota lands and without their permission led to the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851. This agreement with the Lakota permitted the unhindered passage of white settlers across Lakota lands along the Oregon Trail and, on signing, limited white encroachment in perpetuity. However, multiple infringements by white settlers upon treaty agreements led to sporadic outbreaks of violence. The discovery of gold within the boundaries of Lakota lands further exacerbated tensions.
In 1862 armed resistance culminated in what has become known to history as the Great Sioux Uprising. On the suppression of hostilities, approximately 1,700 Dakota men, women and children were forcibly marched from the Lower Sioux Agendy to an internment camp set up at Ft. Snelling, near present day Minneapolis-St. Paul. Following a very brief review, over 300 of the men and boys were condemned, shackled and then transported to another makeshift interment camp located near present day Mankato. On completion of hearings by an additional tribunal in Mankato, 307 of the Dakota were found guilty and sentenced to death. Sixteen were sentenced to prison. The condemned were transported to Mankato to await order of execution authorization from President Lincoln. As for the rest of the Dakota people interred at Ft. Snelling they were paraded through a number of Minnesota towns after having endured bitter conditions and hardships during the course of the winter. Many of the elderly, children and women died as a consequence and it has never been ascertained what happened to the remains of those who died during interment and during the course of the forced marches. On December 26, 1862 (following Christmas Day), on Presidential Order, 38 Dakota men were publicly executed at Ft. Snelling. The remaining Dakota internees were split up and some were shipped down the Mississippi river and further imprisoned for a number of years near Davenport, Iowa while the others were transported to St. Louis and then back up the Missouri river to reservation lands in South Dakota. As many as one third of the Dakota men and boys incarcerated in Iowa died during their incarceration. Many of the Dakota who remained in Minnesota after the 1862 uprising fled westward into present-day South Dakota, Montana, and Canada, joining up with their allies the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho.
Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey declared on September 9, 1862, “The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state.” The forced marches, internment, public trials and executions, along with with the placing of a 200 dollar bounty for Dakota scalps by Governor Ramsey cleared the way for white settlement upon Dakota lands in Western and Central Minnesota. In examining what transpired with the Dakota people at the hands of the US Government in the State of Minnesota
in the wake of the 1862 uprising it can only be deemed to have been an act of genocide.
A second treaty was signed with the United States government in 1868, again at Ft. Laramie. But the discovery of Gold in the Black Hills in 1872 brought a further influx of white settlers into Dakota Territory and hostilities ensued. In 1876 the Lakota-Dakota and allies fought a successful delaying action against US forces at the Battle of the Rosebud and, a week later, they decimated the US Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn---which has gone down in history as Custer's Last Stand. The Regiment sustained over fifty percent casualties. The Congress of the United States authorized the fielding of 2500 additional soldiers and, following determined resistance, the Lakota-Dakota were forced to capitulate before superior numbers in 1877, bringing the Sioux War to an end. Some of the Lakota bands signed a treaty with the US Government, ceding the Black Hills. Sporadic resistance continued however, and Sitting Bull was ultimately cornered at Standing Rock reservation in 1890. In a parallel action, Spotted Eagle's band of Miniconjou were attacked and massacred at Wounded Knee--one of the most infamous of actions against a Plains tribe at the hands of the US Military.
The bulk of contemporary Lakota are today located on five reservations in western South Dakota, divided as follows; Rosebud Indian Reservation (Upper Sičangu or Brulé), Lower Brule Indian Reservation ( Lower Sicangu), the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Ogala), Cheyenne River Indian Reservation (Mnikoju, Itazipco, Sihasapa and Oohenumpa), and Standing Rock Indian Reservation (Hunkpapa). Additional Lakota people live on Ft. Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. The Dakota in Minnesota are divided among two Reservations, that of the Lower Sioux near Hastings and the Mdewankanton reservation near Shakopee, as aformentioned. In North Dakota the Nakota reside on Fort Berthold Reservation. The Lakota also have small reserves in Canada in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Large numbers of Lakota-Dakota also reside in metropolitan areas such as Minneapolis, Rapid City and Denver.
Operating under the umbrella organization of AIM (American Indian Movement), Lakota-Dakota people began the pursuit for modern autonomy in 1974, citing the 33 treaties signed by the US Government--all of which have been violated--as the pretext for separatism or autonomy. In 1980 the United States ruled in favor of the Lakota people and offered 133 million in damages or reparations, but ceded no lands. The Lakota refused the offer. Following the signing of a non-binding resolution on indigenous rights by the United Nations in 2007, the Lakota Freedom Delegation, led by long-time activist Russell means, traveled to Washington DC and informed the United States Government that the Lakota were officially withdrawing from all 33 treaties previously signed by the Lakota people. The Lakota Freedom Delegation subsequently split into two factions and both are still active at the time of this writing (September, 2012).
Justice References: Dakota-Lakota-Nakota People
If you are a member of the dominant culture attempting to work in a minority culture, a number of attributes and attitudes will serve you well. Based on 25 years of working on Indian reservations throughout North and South Dakota and in working with Lakota and Dakota Peoples in urban settings, we have learned some lessons to share with others who wish to bridge the cultural distances. First I must acknowledge that I am, by no means, an authority on native traditions and cultural ways. I am born of the dominant culture, raised in its belief systems and prejudices. My own biases do not allow me to accurately see my biases. Think about that, ponder it well. Your own biases do not allow you to accurately see your biases.
Carroll, Jame Lamm, Native Americans and Criminal Justice on the Minnesota Frontier, Dr. Carroll is a historian with the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and teaches American history at the College of St. Catherine, Minneapolis, MN, Minnesota History, Summer, 1996
We have brought people together to begin discussions of traditional Lakota government. This is a nation. Clinton came to Oglala country. We were there. We held signs, banners --"Free Leonard Peltier", "Stop Ethnic Cleansing". During the time he was there he came over and endorsed the banner. What does this mean? Does it mean stop ethnic cleansing? Honor commitments to the treaty? Does it mean stopping Bill 739 forcing Black Hills money into commercial banks? It is time for people to establish a traditional form of government. It is time to begin the process and not sit back.
Eagle, Harley, Prisons and the pre-contact worldview of the peoples of turtle island, By Harley Eagle, Restorative Justice facilitator
Harley Eagle is of the Dakota/Salteaux First Nations, enrolled in the Wapaha Ska Dakota First Nations Reserve, in Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his wife Sue share a position in Winnipeg as co-coordinators of Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s work with Indigenous people. In addition, Harley is a Circle facilitator and Dismantling Racism trainer. He has co-facilitated workshops for the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking in Minnesota, with a Tribal Judges Symposium in Montana, with the Black Feet Tribal Courts, and in numerous other locales. Foundational to the life ways of Indigenous* peoples, to the cultures of Turtle Island* prior to contact with Europeans, was the need to maintain a respectful, balanced existence in all relationships, including our relations with the land, plants, and animals. There was no need to dominate, control, conquer or eradicate the life around them. What resulted was the development of complex societies that helped maintain long-term sustainability and diversity within the natural cycles of the entire environment, rather than just for humans or a select few humans.
Earle, Kathleen A., Bruce Bradigan and Leonard I. Morgenbesser, Mental Health Care for American Indians in Prison, Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, Vol. 9(3/4) 2001, 2001 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Echo-Hawk, Walter R., Tribal Efforts to Protect Against Mistreatment ofIndian Dead: The Quest for Equal Protection of the Laws, Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Legal Review, National Indian Law Library, 1989
End the Continued Genocide of the Lakota People--- Lakota Activists and Allies March for Justice Always in memory of Wally Black Elk and Ron Hard Heart On Saturday, June 9th at 12:00pm members of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and their allies, including Deep Green Resistance, will rally in Pine Ridge, SD and march for justice to demand an end to predatory liquor sales in the border town of Whiteclay, Nebraska.The town of Whiteclay, Nebraska lies less than 300 feet from the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited. While Whiteclay has a population of 14, there are 4 liquor stores in the town, selling tens of thousands of cans of beer each day The stores knowingly sell to bootleggers, intoxicated people, minors, and trade beer for sexual favors. The alcohol border town is feeding off the continued destruction of the Lakota people, and it must be stopped.
Florey, Katherine J. (Keker & Van Nest) Choosing Tribal Law: Why State Choice-of-Law Principles Should Apply to Disputes with Tribal Contacts, bepress Legal Series, Year 2006, Paper 1023
This article considers a problem in Indian law that has been much commented upon but little explored: When a state court exercises jurisdiction over a case with tribal contacts, what law should govern? While the Supreme Court has developed a detailed set of rules dictating whether cases with tribal contacts should be heard in a state or tribal forum, it has devoted almost no attention to the question of which law should apply once a forum has been chosen. Thus, many state courts have simply assumed, without explicit consideration of the issue, that state law should apply to any case over which they have jurisdiction, even when one or more of the parties is Indian and relevant events took place in Indian country.
Garry, Patrick M., Candace J. Spurlin, Jennifer L. Keating, Derek A. Nelsen, Tribal Incorporation of First Amendment Norms: A Case Study of the Indian Tribes of South Dakota, South Dakota Law Review, Vol. 53, April 2008
As American culture becomes more individualistic, social and legal opposition has arisen regarding expansive judicial interpretations of First Amendment freedoms. According to this opposition, the courts have interpreted such freedoms in an almost exclusively individualistic light, with little regard for community interests and values. This debate over individual rights versus social and community interests has been raging for decades in the areas of pornography, crime prevention, and national security. In the case of constitutional protections granted to graphically violent video games, for instance, critics argue that courts should take a more balanced view of First Amendment freedoms, giving greater consideration to community interests in healthy child development and crime prevention, and less consideration to the rights of individual game distributors to sell their products to minors whose parents object to such games.
On May 1st, The Aberdeen News of South Dakota reported that former South Dakota state attorney Brandon Taliaferro and court appointed child advocate Shirley Schwab were being charged by SouthDakota State Attorney General Martin Jackley with witness tampering and subornation of perjury. Attorney General Jackley filed these charges in relation to the separate criminal prosecution of Aberdeenbased foster parents Richard and Gwendolyn Mette. Mr. Taliaferro is a well-known South Dakota Indian child advocate and, as a former Assistant State Attorney, he was in charge of prosecuting child abuse cases in Brown County. Mrs. Schwab is the widely respected court-appointed child advocate for Brown County. Richard Mette had been charged in 2011 by Mr. Taliaferro with a total of 23 felony counts of aggravated rape of a child and aggravated incest against two of four young Native American sisters who had been placed in his and his wife Gwendolyn Mette’s custody by the Department of Social Services (D.S.S.) over the protests of the children’s Lakota family. Gwendolyn Mette had been charged with 11 felony charges of aiding and abetting his crimes, and with neglect of the children.
Macaroni, Reflections on the Dakota War, Monday, August 6, 2012
The Minnesota Historical Society has mounted an engaging exhibit about the Dakota War that erupted in the summer of 1862 in the Minnesota River Valley. There is nothing flashy about the exhibit itself—just text and maps and a few photos. It’s the events themselves that are engaging. To their credit, the designers of the exhibit have brought those events to the forefront, examining them from various perspectives in an effort to get a “true” picture of what really took place, and why, with nary an interactive kiosk or a “talking head” in sight. It’s a harrowing and heart-rending tale, to say the least. I first heard about the war, formerly known as the Sioux Uprising, when my sixth-grade class took a field trip to Fort Ridgely in 1966. Since that time, my attitude toward it hasn’t really changed: the Indians got screwed, the settlers got massacred. Neither outcome is “acceptable,” as they say nowadays, but that’s what happened, and there’s little point trying to figure out how things might have been different. You accept and ponder history, or you ignore it. Or you twist it to suit your own agenda.
The South Dakota Supreme Court created the Equal Justice Commission to investigate, among other things, perceptions of unfairness in our state judicial system based on race, ethnicity, or minority status. Upon completion of its investigation, the Commission was required to submit a public report with recommendations to the South Dakota Supreme Court. The following is the Commission’s Final Report and Recommendations.
Publication of The South Dakota Tribal Court Handbook represents the culmination of a two-year project of the Indian Law Committee of the State Bar of South Dakota to prepare an informative booklet concerning the history, requirements for practice, and jurisdictional parameters of the nine tribal courts in South Dakota. The Handbook is designed to provide an informative and ready resource for the practicing bar in this state as well as for the tribal and statewide community at large. The overarching objective of this effort is to facilitate ongoing communication, understanding, and respect for tribal courts and tribal court personnel. The Committee believes that this Handbook is the first of its kind in the country and that it marks a significant accomplishment within the State.