Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, addresses a #NoDAPL rally outside of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on August 24, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
'I am not shocked': Harold Frazier on forced separation of families

Response to United States of America’s actions on immigration

By Harold Frazier
Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
@CRSTChairman

I often consider the Lakota Oyate as strong patriots and warriors that have taken up the cause of the United States of America. Despite the way we have been treated in our collective past. Our history together has been filled with death and destruction resulting in a devastated society that is doing its best to heal our wounds and look past our differences.

Recently, Americans have reacted with shock as they realize the actions their government has taken by breaking up families and incarcerating children by the hundreds. I am not shocked however. This country has witnessed this before.

When the Americans came to this continent they brought with them slaves that they separated from their families far away. They then took our children away from us under the pretense that we do not know what is best for them.

Today, many Americans are again justifying the barbaric practice of incarcerating children to further political and financial goals. At what point does the United States have to realize they are the bad guys?

The United States has woven a society of immigrants and Tribal nations under a beacon of hope. This is a dark time when our children will talk of the damage we have done to the fabric of that society.

The devastation done is nothing new to us, our people know the devastating effects that separation policies have on a generation of children that were removed from their families. Indian people are still recovering from the United States’ failed boarding schools in which religion was used as justification. It shows a lack of morality to brandish faith as a justification to dehumanize the most sacred of us to walk this earth, the children.


Families are the most important foundation of society. It is a law of nature that family members protect each other and nurture what is best of humanity, love. To break that sacred bond between family is crime that has been done to my people and would never wish on another.

It is obvious the American government has failed the people of the United States as it has failed the treaties it has made with the Great Sioux Nation. The voices of reason are speaking and I have faith in the American people, I hope they do not continue to let myself and the rest of the world down. I hope they do the right thing without trying everything else first.

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.

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Indian Country remembers the trauma of forced separation (June 19, 2018)
Mark Charles: Separating families of color is a long tradition in America (June 18, 2018)