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

Ivan Star Comes Out: Breaking out of dependency and poverty in Indian Country

Trying to remove ‘colonialism’ from our minds

By Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

Prior to the arrival of the European, our ancestors, the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) lived a thriving near-perfect society. In this day and age though, their descendants residing on the Pine Ridge as enrolled members of the federal government’s own “Oglala Sioux Tribe” are enduring life in perpetual poverty. What caused this calamity?

Was it because the ancient cultures and languages of the North American continent became old and useless? It was certainly not God’s intervention. This destruction resulted from an earthly papal belief that God chose the Caucasian to enslave, kill, and dominate all other races of the world. Actually, this was used to justify their insatiable greed for material wealth.

Poverty is a demoralizing experience. Many years ago, I asked what would happen if state welfare benefits were banned on the reservation. Many of my native classmates were horrified that I would even think of such a thing. My comment had touched the dependent nature of our existence. In the long run though, if such a thing were to be carried out, it would beneficial for everyone.

The state would save money and it would move us toward that autonomy that many have been incessantly pining. Then there are a few who are still looking to a coup d'état or removal of this “tribal” government in favor of traditional government. Anyway, as a group of natives, we are much too acclimated to this government-sanctioned dependency and most prefer to leave things as they are.

On the other hand, I believe some kind of socioeconomic change is inevitable simply due to that fact that Indian people are not “free” in any sense of the word. The new colonial power tried by military force to eradicate natives and then shifted to a hostile self-serving diplomacy to dominate. England and other European nations used such policies to control and influence developing nations.

Anyway, I heard the word “de-colonize” several times in local discussions and it stuck in my mind. Since I did not totally understand it’s meaning, I went to my old dictionary (Webster’s, 1998) and found it doesn’t list such a word. I found “colonize” defined as “to start a colony or colonies.” So, I’m assuming “de-colonize” means the opposite of starting a colony.

America gained its independence in a most violent manner. India gained its independence by peacefully coercing England to withdraw its rule from the country. Can one even imagine congress withdrawing its power over Native America? We know that is not going to happen as long we have land and natural resources corporate America wants.

At any rate, I will say that to get out of this dependency and poverty, we must first “de-colonize” individually. It is at one’s discretion as to how de-colonization occurs. Certainly, persistently lobbying congress for more money to develop our reservation economy and political structure will not produce the desired results. We’ve done this for more than 80-plus years and we are still in the same situation.


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Trying to remove ‘colonialism’ from our minds
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.

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