The Northern Cheyenne Tribe's capitol building in Lame Deer, Montana. Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Tribal achievers series idea

After about ten years of chunking out weekly columns, both for my former little newspaper, A Cheyenne Voice, now and for many years, Native Sun News Today (NSNT) and occasionally even other papers, some new ideas might be in order. Thank you so much to the gracious readers who sometimes send comment, notes of appreciation or disagreement. That’s what keeps us going, letting us know that the ideas we send into the universe sometimes are read and/or appreciated or at least evoke discussion.

Not too long ago, for example, my good cousin Dennis Limberhand who now lives near Chadron, Nebraska visited with some Lakota friends, apparently faithful readers who asked him if I was a "real" Cheyenne.

“Hell, yeah,” he responded. “She’s my sister-cousin.” I guess they were relieved to get this validation. Yet, simply being a weekly columnist does not make me an expert on the Northern Cheyenne as I often remind readers who send in crazy questions.

For years, I was a somewhat harsh and critical columnist about tribal governments – a very easy target and popular with readers as about 99% of us are frustrated with conditions faced by our people on the reservations and indeed even the urban areas where many now reside. Personally, I think that the Indian Reorganization Act style of government has seldom served us well and probably won’t, especially in these dark days under the Republican regime.

Speaking of that, funding for tribal police has been deeply cut. Though most of us don’t care for tribal or BIA police, the schools right on those heels, social service programs for neglected children, etc. At times we do need police and schools for public safety reasons. Is the BIA pulling out of local law enforcement, leading to other cuts in essential social service assistance? Serving on the Tribal Council is a rough job and unfortunately does not often appeal to our best and brightest. (Not to say that we do not have some bright Council leaders).

So, I’m tired of writing about tribal politics – it doesn’t do the least bit of good, except to gain the ire of those folks in office. Funny, when they once again become regular Cheyenne, they agree, sometimes even getting into contact to say things such as “Don’t use my name, but here is another thing going on. Look into that...”

I’m even more tired of reading or hearing awful stories about Indians, a subject which major media seems to relish whenever the occasion presents itself. To hear it from their view, we are all generally a bunch of drunks, drug addicts, petty or major criminals (even some of our elected officials) living in abject poverty, unwilling or unable to do any better.

While a few are stuck in that trap, it is not generally so. Among our ranks, we can count so many tribal achievers: those who have gained or are gaining an education; holding down good jobs; raising wonderful families and even when ‘moving to America’ as I jokingly say, becoming State, County and local tax-paying citizens. However, be reminded that workers on the reservation pay Federal taxes. Nobody can avoid that. And monthly government checks for Indians? Forget that. If so, somebody owes us a lot of money.


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