"We need to renegotiate the treaties," was the campaign message of Republican Neal Tapio, a state lawmaker, in his campaign for U.S. Congress. He did not win his party's nomination for the seat. Photo: Neal Tapio

Ivan Star Comes Out: Native people go without justice on their own lands

United States citizenry is ill-informed when it comes to native history
By Ivan Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

The South Dakota primaries are over and the winners have celebrated and are now preparing for the general elections. However, there are things that need to be said regarding this primary election.

Neal Tapio (R-SD) wanted to renegotiate treaties to improve something he called the “reservation system.” He did not win but he has a significant following. More than likely, these people mirror his sentiment.

This candidate may have had some legitimate points otherwise. I tend to think his “reservation system” idea classified as an impulsive reaction, sometimes called a brain fart. The English dictionary defines this informal noun as a temporary mental lapse or failure to reason correctly. This ill-considered afterthought is definitely founded on his biased and flawed knowledge of Native America.

This state’s long-standing inimical relationship with Indians is also based on this flawed information. For instance, although I contributed to Rapid City’s economy most of my adult life, I received less than quality service at its various businesses. Initially, the looming likelihood of unjust incarceration forced me to remain docile. Now, as we enter the 21st century, this practice is now out in the open.

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

A classic example of this double standard occurred when a returning decorated Indian Vietnam combat veteran was hitchhiking home to the reservation. He was threatened by a group of young, beer-guzzling, white cowboy-type males in a truck. I will say those young men were lucky and leave it at that. The veteran didn’t have to spend the rest of his life in prison.

We are aware of the incident at Rapid City Civic Center where a drunken white man poured beer on some Indian elementary students attending a hockey game. The outing was the student’s reward for school achievement. Ultimately, the state court slapped the drunken man’s hand and is free while the students had to go through therapy for post-trauma stress which many will carry for life.

The state does administer justice and has respect for people, but not for “Indians.” Although there may be some sentencing discrepancies regarding federal and state crimes, the disproportionate percentage of imprisoned natives in South Dakota still stands. The state’s native population is 8.5%, but comprises 60% of the federal case load (Flanagin, 2015).

Asking Anglo-Americans to reexamine their history sincerely and with impartiality is like trying to stop the sun from rising. Perhaps with awareness of the 90 to 112.5 million native men, women and children of the Americas that perished due to deadly European diseases and ruthless massacres since 1492 (Dobyn, 1966), they could procure for themselves a chance to be human again.

By comparison, during the German Holocaust (1933-1945), two thirds of more than 9 million Jews (men, women, and children) were murdered as part of Hitler’s “final solution.” In view of the current state-of-affairs regarding the Republicans or the Grand Old Party (GOP), this country is on the verge of recreating that horrific historic era right here in the United States, South Dakota included.

The American establishment taught us about the Louisiana Purchase of 1804 but from an imperialist perspective, which is not the entire story. The U. S. was trying to explore the Missouri River but France declined to issue a passport to Meriwether Lewis in 1803. Eventually, France made the sale to offset its national debt and the U.S. got the right to explore the area along the Missouri River.

The Lewis and Clark expeditions (1804-1806) were organized immediately and the government entered into nation-to-nation treaties with various indigenous nations in the area. The Oceti Sakowin (Seven Fires) land base is established via the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties at the center of this area.

America has always and continues to teach the biased idea that it purchased land from France. Actually, much of American history, including South Dakota, was altered to hide its coordinated inimical land transactions initiated by settlers and miners vying for statehood (1889). Most of this activity occurred in the wake of the 1851 and 1868 treaties.

This is not to mention the fact that the United States never intended to honor even one of its 300-plus treaties with Indigenous nations. It is now obvious that those treaties were initiated only as a strategy to fulfill their 19th century belief that U. S. expansion was both inevitable and justified. Expansionism teaches that Anglo-Americans were destined by God to expand their dominion over the “new land.”

Today, it appears South Dakota officials are comfortable with ignoring Indian-White relations so they can look to their future without guilt. What I see is the misinformed leading the uninformed to oppress, incarcerate, murder and rape natives even now in the 21st century. The state is a democratic dud since it does not deal rightly with the violent transgressions of its denizens toward natives.


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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 Today

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