Harold Salway-Left Heron is making his third Oglala Sioux Tribe presidential bid in the 2012 election. Salway-Left Heron has previously served two terms as OST president.
Salway seeks 3rd OST presidency
By Native Sun News Staff PINE RIDGE — A former two-time president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe has made the decision to return to politics on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Harold Salway-Left Heron filed a petition with the tribe’s election commission in August for the office of president. Salway-Left Heron recounted his ancestral history for Native Sun News. “My great-grandfather on my father’s side was the man Left Heron. He was known as ‘Makula’ (Breast or Chest). He was best known for his spiritual prowess. My Aunt Cecelia told me he accompanied Chief Red Cloud from 1865 to 1868 during the treaty negotiation era and was the holy man for the Oglalas during that time. He would pray all summer with other spiritual people to obtain prophecy or spiritual knowledge as to how to defend the people’s best interest in the treaty negotiations for the Oglala people. His father was Walking Eagle from the Red Leaf Tiospaye from Rosebud, so I have a lot of relatives from there. My father’s grandmother was Louise Red Cloud, aka Weasel Woman. Louise’s mother was Pretty Bird from Chief Good Owl. My mother’s father’s side was from four generations back, to Frank Salway. Cousin Terry told me he researched the Salway history, and there were four brothers that came from Ireland in the early 1700s to work for the Hudson Bay Company, trapping fur. One got killed in the wilderness, one settled down south, around Arizona, one settled up north, around the Fort Peck area, and the fourth brother settled around here. And that’s where most of the Salways around here are from, that man. My mother’s grandmother is the daughter of Red Shirt. Her mother’s grandfather was Arthur Ruff, and from mother’s side of the family tree are Lone Wolf, Makes Cloud, Afraid of Bear, Eagle and Staring Woman.” Salway-Left Heron grew up in the Bear Creek community just north of Martin, where Lakota language and customary practices were the way of life. He said he grew up riding horses from childhood, graduated from Bennett County High School, went on to Haskell junior college, then the University of Colorado, and finished his education at Oglala Lakota College. “I have one class left to finish my master’s degree in management, and I have two bachelor’s (degrees),” he said. “In another semester, I will have a third bachelor’s in business administration.” Salway-Left Heron has four children, Sharla, Tyrel, Cassie and Harold Jr., and five grandchildren “with more to come,” he added. In addition to his two terms as president, he has previously served on the OST Council as a fifth member and vice president. Native Sun News: The biggest problem on Pine Ridge is unemployment. What would you do to bring jobs to the reservation?
Salway-Left Heron: When I was president in 1998 to 2000 and hosted the presidential visit with President William Clinton and Cabinet secretaries of Agriculture, Housing, and assistant secretary of Interior, the Empowerment Zone award was activated. I received the award from Vice President Al Gore in Washington and was accompanied with Secretary of Agriculture Daniel Glickman and South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson. That should have created major development, which equates to jobs of all types in the professional, technical, science, skilled and unskilled industries. Other projects I attempted, but they were not successfully carried through by succeeding administrations were:
District development corporations under OST constitutional authority, which would have allowed the nine districts to become economically self-sufficient and autonomous to develop as their district deemed prudent and necessary.
Proposal/grants center and hired numerous professional and experienced writers to access funding and write proposals and grants for organizations, communities, districts, tribal charters, tribal programs, and all public entities and institutions on the reservation. Oglala Sioux tribal construction company which would allow every enrolled tribal member that owned or is part owner to register their company or business and share all the construction and A&E projects on the reservation and/or where TERO (Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance) law applies. I campaigned on this numerous times in the past and feel this can still happen.
Collaborated with U.S. Department of Labor to develop employment programs and opportunities on and surrounding the reservation. Hired a statistician to profile the employment sector and network with tribal, state and federal agencies to create outlets for tribal members to find the jobs they are skilled and trained for.
Established an OST Department of Labor task force to evaluate creative and innovative methods of job development at every sector, district, community, tiospaye or wherever they have the capability to establish land and assist them with financing and bonding.
Put constant diligence in cottage industries because I believe that when economic need is monopolized it takes away the survival of people that do not believe in centralized existence, such as homes, jobs, service needs, etc., that city-type dwelling does. We were able to live off the land and in our tiospayes in the past, and that was our way of life. Now we have a hard time intellectualizing how to go back to live off the land and in our communities.
A strategic planning task force would be created to assess, evaluate, research and design Lakota economic development. What our ancestors done to survive is very different from how we live on the reservation, in out-districts and communities, so how do we recreate means of survival today? The task force will be composed of an elite cross segment of tribal members as well as professionals in the field of economic development. The key to our survival is economic development, like one well-respected elderly gentleman told me, and I feel that is the critical factor to our future so I am going to continue to work with it whether I am elected or not. This task force will also be a part of overall planning, research and design. Native Sun News: Another major problem is housing. What would you do to alleviate the housing shortage?
Salway-Left Heron: Once again, President Clinton, Secretary of Housing Andrew Cuomo and I discussed this at length when we were walking through the new housing site directly east of the new IHS compound. What came up was the same talks they had with other areas that were a model from his New Markets Investment Act – and Pine Ridge was one – and they explained how to provide the various types of housing. Numerous types can be created: apartment complex in all the district township sites, quadraplex homes for elderly and the disabled, and duplex for tribal membership that can afford to live in a comfortable home but still pay a reasonable amount that won’t be as exorbitant as city dwelling.
The other probability is to network and collaborate with the housing charter, partnership for housing and all other entities that are entrusted to provide homes and dwellings for the membership. The sovereign ability to make this happen rests with the Oglala Sioux council to create and change ordinances, resolutions and policy matters to make it a possibility.
This is one of my priorities because there is a very large percentage of the younger generations that don’t have a home that have a family, or as a single parent that cannot live continuously in a crowded house with multiple families. I know the young families have that as their greatest need, and I will constantly work on that and continue to as one of my priorities. As most of you can recall, I hosted the visit with the secretary of housing and know that I would be able to start back up a relationship with the agency in Washington, D.C., to make the dream become a reality.
There are also numerous types of innovative housing types of construction going on presently on our reservation, straw-bale housing, compact-brick housing, etc., and they are helping so they need to be supported. Not all tribal members can build their own house, and that’s where creativity comes in to put many of the young couples, single parents and overcrowded families into homes. Native Sun News: The Prairie Wind Casino needs to increase the revenues from gambling. Many Oglala thought it was a bad idea to build a casino at Martin. The casino most have been pushing for is the one that would bring the tribe the most income, and that would be a casino at Interior. Do you see that ever happening?
Salway-Left Heron: That is a natural to promote, but even more enticing is to continue building the one in the very northeast corner of the reservation that was attempted a few years back and add on to it a truck stop/plaza and sell at a cheaper price to spur visitation. It is approximately 10 miles off Interstate 90 and would be an excellent project. I have a contact with a corporation that helped set up numerous economic development projects, such as a truck plaza next to the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona. In their first year, they generated such a huge profit that they invested it in other efforts that the communities were in great need of, and now are living very well with the truck plaza they built.
Discussions have to be held with the council to research whether that is one of the project they wish to put their efforts into. Mind you, it is only a two-year term, so the time spent has to be utilized for the best quality effort possible that would net the best reward. Native Sun News: A visitor center and a museum at Wounded Knee would bring many tourism dollars to the reservation economy. Senator Tim Johnson says he could raise the money to build such a tourist site through the National Park Service. Would you recommend this for economic development?
Salway-Left Heron: I would take it one step further and truly put effort into developing what was and is identified as the tourism loop from Red Shirt Table through Cuny Table on into Wounded Knee and back up through Pine Ridge. But I too am like my elders and relatives: I have a great-grandfather, No Ears, who’s buried at the gravesite, and have considerations to analyze. Do we leave the sacred area with as little development as possible? Or do we dive in with economics as the prime factor in bringing people around the world to hear our side of the story. I am torn at this time on what direction to take with it, but I have to follow what the position the elders had on it and pray about it before I take on the task. Of course the people that are stakeholders also have to be consulted with. I remember my uncle William Horn Cloud also had ideas about erecting a monument to the tragic event, so everyone has to have input on the topic. That’s where my leadership would be valuable in that I would have a council of elders to assist me and provide direction for the people on this as well as all major topics and projects. Native Sun News: There will be a push to drill for oil and natural gas in the next few years. What would be your approach to doing this?
Salway-Left Heron: I would go to my grave fighting this atrocity, just like Crazy Horse fought for what he envisioned as desecration to the very existence that gives us life, Mother Earth. There are other ways to create economic survival, and I would rally other leadership not only in our reservation but in our treaty territory, as well as with other countries that went through what the drilling and mining corporations have done to their countries as well. The world needs to hear through alliances that I will work with them to empower attention for global support to eradicate the capitalistic approach for the almighty dollar corporations have the addiction for.
During the month of May of this year, I traveled to Arizona where I met with an embassy composed of a confederation of countries from Mexico and South America called Tonatierra. It is a part of an organization called Abya Yala. It has been in operation for decades and has country members that have full status at the United Nations. During the meeting, as well as some I have attended in the past, we discussed the issue of mining and drilling for gas and natural resources. What they informed us was that there are countries in South America that have gone through the very thing that we are up here. The corporations come in with promises of exploration and ended up leaving miles and miles of dead zones which destroy all life, and they have to find ways to live in the aftereffects of all the poison left behind. We were also informed that they discovered that the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation has a living existence, and that they can be charged criminally for the damage they leave behind which kills natural resources, wildlife and humans from poisonous water, air and passing of radiation and deadly chemicals and gases behind that people consume and end up with various deadly illnesses.
Before we left, we were informed the country Mapuche, which connects Mexico and South America, wishes to meet with the Seven Council Fires up here in Sioux country to strategize with us and develop strategic planning for consideration by the United Nations. I realize that this is a major effort to indulge my time as president in, but I believe in what my ancestors fought against, and that is to protect my people, my land, my way of life. And my generations to come won’t have a place to live in health if I concede to capitalism. There are some things money will not buy, and that’s my spirit.
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