|The following story was written and reported by Clara Caufield. All content © Native Sun News.
Wilmer Mesteth, Oglala Lakota, Phyliss & President Llevando Fisher, Ronni Rae Brady, Northern Cheyenne Chief Judge and William Walksalong, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Cheyenne Tribe.
Llevando “Cowboy” Fisher, sworn in as Northern Cheyenne president
By Clara Caufield
LAME DEER, MT - The atmosphere at the Charging Horse Casino on October 21st during the Inauguration for Llevando “Cowboy” Fisher, newly elected Northern Cheyenne Tribal President was subdued. Master of Ceremonies, Don Shoulderblade explained that Cowboy did not want a gala ceremony out of respect for the many Cheyenne families who are in mourning. (There have been many recent deaths among the Tribe.) The ceremonies included a moment of silence and a Memorial Song by the Birney Drum Group for the families of those who have made the journey to the spirit world.
A number of speakers addressed the packed crowd including: Hugh Clubfoot (opening prayer); Ronni Rae Brady, Chief Judge (conducted the swearing in ceremony); William Walksalong (representing Winfield S. Russell, Vice-President, who could not be present due to a death in his immediate family); Wilmer Mesteth, Oglala Lakota (guest speaker) and Alberta Fisher (closing prayer). All of the speakers encouraged the Northern Cheyenne leaders to work together in a spirit of traditional cooperation to improve conditions for the Cheyenne people. “We need a lot of help and a person with a good heart to make life better for us,” said Shoulderblade, a former Council member and former Sacred Hat Keeper. “I know Cowboy will be kind to the People.”
Alberta Fisher, a Cheyenne Sacred Woman, urged the Cheyenne leaders to “Put differences aside. Let’s not be divided like we have been. It has brought us nowhere. Give your people a chance. Make room for us. Think about us.”
Wilmer Mesteth, an Oglala Lakota with many family ties to the Northern Cheyenne and the founder of the annual Sioux ride to the Battle of the Little Big Horn, reminded the Cheyenne “We take courage from the strength of our leaders. The U.S. is on shaky ground today. We warn our people to get prepared for what is coming. Conditions at Pine Ridge and Northern Cheyenne are very similar. We must stand together, like we did in the old days.”
President Fisher first asked his daughter Palmeda to explain why he finally consented to run as a write-in candidate, making it through the Primary Election, a historic footnote. “Dad did not want to run,” Palmeda explained, “but so many people contacted us that he decided to give it a “test”. And now here we are. Thank you to everyone who supported my father.”
President Fisher’s remarks were brief: “We face a long hard road,” he said. ‘The Tribe is broke and programs are drying up. You know my campaign agenda: revising the Tribal Constitution; improving the Law and Order Code and making tribal programs more accountable and professional. We must step us and treat our people with respect.
We must figure out how to be self-sufficient, he warned. I am calling for a true referendum on coal development (on the reservation). If you vote yes, we will go strongly in that direction. If not, we have to look at other alternatives. My door is always open to you.”
In the meantime, the election protest filed by losing candidate L. Jace Killsback is still pending with the Tribal Courts. Killsback unsuccessfully sought an injunction to stop the swearing in ceremony though he and other Council members did attend.
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