Ivan F. Star Comes Out. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

Ivan Star Comes Out: Oceti Sakowin lacking in knowledge of our own treaties

‘English education’ and cultural knowledge must be balanced

By Ivan F. Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

A sad and undeserved reality for the descendants of the original Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) is that basic knowledge of our treaties with the United States is unknown.

More than likely, this shortcoming has affected the majority of Natives in the west river area (treaty territory). Then there are a small number of elderly men selfishly claiming to be treaty authorities.

I must point out the fact that these few have isolated themselves from the Oyate (People) with their knowledge. They have been working within a confusing array of Treaty Councils, each claiming to be the one treaty authority. No one seems interested in finding the middle ground for the sake of unity, growth, and advancement.

All the while, the rest of us are without a clue regarding our treaties.

Eager to learn, I attended my first treaty meeting in 1980 at our local school in Oglala. Sadly, that experience left me utterly disappointed. I saw these elderly men sitting around the table arguing as to who was the most knowledgeable. The discussions became heated and one of the men angrily packed up his briefcase and stomped out the door.

The wife and I were the only attendees occupying in the bleachers. I did not attend another meeting until about twenty years later at our casino. Being such a large crowd, I stayed wanting to see some semblance of evolution. However, I saw the same groups vying for prominence and leadership. Thwarted again, I left and haven’t attended another meeting since.

Wanting to learn, I continued by asking questions of the various men that were involved. This didn’t pan out though as the pointless bickering continued within their responses to my queries. One gentleman even told me I was too young to work with treaties. Another told me I should not be involved because my ancestor is not a treaty signer. In other words, I have no business in treaties.

Meanwhile, there are those in favor of accepting the $1.4 billion (now) that Congress “paid” as “just compensation” for illegally taking the Black Hills in 1877. Attorneys are also interested in this so they can get paid for their work with the Fort Laramie treaties. Throughout this blur of activity, the majority of remain unaware and our poverty-stricken youth see only the money and not the history behind it.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: ‘English education’ and cultural knowledge must be balanced

Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at P.O. Box 147, Oglala, South Dakota, 57764; via phone at 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News