Chairman Harold Frazier leads in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe riders who arrived at Fort Laramie in Wyoming after a 350-mile trek from South Dakota. Photo by Richie Richards / Native Sun News Today

'Pandering to the bigots and racists': Harold Frazier on tribes and treaties

Neal Tapio comments on tribal reservations

By Harold Frazier
Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

Today I have read the comments from Neal Tapio regarding the treaties and reservations.

I am deeply offended by these remarks about our children. The children that struggle everyday with poverty and broken families do not need a desperate politician desperately trying to gain votes by pandering to the bigots and racists to remind them of their predicament.

But let me talk of our children. Before South Dakota was ever a state the Great Sioux Nation had a natural and peaceful way of taking care of our children that never placed them in a position to be taken advantage. I would like Mr. Tapio to know that has changed since the introduction of the boarding schools and social services.

The South Dakota Department of Social Services is the program now responsible for the placement of children. Along with the many state and private institutions given permission to traffic our children these organizations are the real source of this tragedy. Indeed, many times the tribal governments were historically powerless to take actions and when we did it was not a quick process.

The failing of certain programs and pocket lining Mr. Tapio is referring to were actually state endeavors and not tribal. It has been though, a common tactic of the attacker and accomplices to blame the victims for the problem. Anything to take blame from themselves and justify the guilt they refuse to acknowledge. Once that lie is accepted then you are either all in or part of the problem.

Neal Tapio: Neal Tapio Calls for Renegotiation of Indian Treaty--End to Reservation System

Now let me talk of the treaties. It is painfully obvious Mr. Tapio has not read the treaties. Because if he had, he would realize the treaties are not the problem. The problem is the United States has never honored any treaty they have made with us. If those treaties were honored then who knows how prosperous our Tribes would be and healthy our family environments would turn out.

Which leads me to our reservations. We have been forced onto these lands and then systematically swindled out of these lands by illegal acts of Congress. The reservations have incubated our people as we come to terms with the genocidal destruction of our families and culture.

But we have become stronger and smarter. Our forefathers did the best they could for our survival. It is an attitude we still carry with us today.

Reservations are no longer a problem for us, but it appears they are for Mr. Tapio. I propose then Mr. Tapio work to return our treaty territories to the Great Sioux Nation and we would gladly leave the reservations. Of course, Mr. Tapio would know this if he would have visited with myself or any other tribal leader.

Lastly, let me talk of South Dakota. We do not need another oil industry opportunist willing to sell the people of South Dakota out for self-gain. Together Sioux Tribal members and South Dakotans can make a prosperous future where everyone has an equal opportunity for success.

If we stand together and vote to send what is the best of South Dakota to Washington D.C. and not what is the worst of South Dakota.

Harold Frazier is serving his second term as chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, based in South Dakota. He also serves as president of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association. He previously served as vice chair of his tribe and as an area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians.

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