A #LandBack protest in Keystone, South Dakota, on July 3, 2020. Photo by Willi White, courtesy NDN Collective

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: A state of war?

Native Sun News Today Columnist

Forty years ago Sioux Indians had made their claim that the State of South Dakota and the U.S. Federal Government had violated their rights as dual citizens of this country, another protest case finds its way to the Pennington County Court House in Rapid City August 22, 2020.

Led this time by a coalition put together by Nick Tilsen, the CEO of the Rapid City based NDN Collective, the Magistrate Judge Todd Hyronimus said he found “probable cause” for felony charges against the Oglala tribal member from Pine Ridge Reservation for protest actions at Mount Rushmore during the political speech given by President Donald Trump.

Hyronimus cited a video that showed Tilsen taking a shield from a State of South Dakota Guardsman (called in by Governor Kristie Noem as a protection against “disruptive” protesters), as well as testimony from two Sheriff’s deputies.

Tilsen is charged with second-degree robbery  and grand theft for taking the shield  from the guardsman, two counts of  simple assault and physical menace or “credible threat” which put them in fear of imminent bodily harm,” three misdemeanor counts and impending a highway,  unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.”

It means that Tilsen could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison for saying publicly that the Trump political speech at the Monument is an example of the continuing white supremacy and colonialism in contested native lands, the Black Hills.

The political display of the Trump visit here on July 3, 2020, was seen by many Indians as evidence that the State and the Oyate (Sioux Nation) are still at war from the illegal seizure of half the Sioux Nation 1868 treaty territory boundaries over a hundred years ago and that the Indigenous Black and Brown resistance which is going on throughout the nation today is played out by aggressive law and order systems at every opportunity.

Fifty years after the protest movement history demands answers and young Sioux Indians brought up in poverty and discrimination attempt to not only record their own history, but defend it.


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Professor Elizabeth Cook-Lynn writes a column for The Native Sun News Today, in Rapid City, South Dakota, She is a retired professor of Native Studies and has taught at Eastern Washington University, University of California-Davis and Arizona State University. She is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Fort Thompson, South Dakota.

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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